– DC Benincasa
Watching my Cleveland Browns lose is nothing new. However, Browns kicker Zane Gonzalez missed two field goals and two extra points last Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Gonzalez showed me a new way for the Browns to squander a win, costing the team eight points in a 21-18 loss.
The Browns led for most of the game, building up my optimism. We were beating Drew Brees, a future Hall of Fame quarterback, in his home stadium. The Saints are a Super Bowl contender, yet the Browns controlled most of the game with a stellar, young defense. This win would give the team confidence for the rest of the season and finally give the fans a victory. But, as usual, things went wrong for the Browns.
The Browns led 12-3 going into the fourth quarter. Then Brees led the Saints to back-to-back touchdown drives, both capped by passing touchdowns from the Saints quarterback to wide receiver Michael Thomas. The Saints led 18-12 until Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor launched a 46 yard high-arcing touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Antonio Callaway with 1:16 left in the fourth quarter. All we needed was an extra point to take the lead.
Gonzalez ran onto the field, having already missed an extra point and a 44 yard field goal earlier in the game. He pulled his kick to the left of the goalposts, crushing the hopes of Browns players and fans.
The Saints kicked a field goal to take a 21-18 lead with 21 seconds left. The Browns completed a few passes, setting up a 52 yard field goal attempt to send the game into overtime.
However, Gonzales’ missed yet another kick to ruin my Sunday.
Browns fans feel like the punchline of a joke. Every time someone finds out I’m a Browns fan, they’re amazed that we still exist. We endure week after week of brutal losses. I’ve seen the Browns blow leads. I’ve seen the Browns lose games because of missed field goals. I’ve seen the Browns lose because of silly penalties. I’ve spent dozens of Autumn Sunday’s watching the Browns lose.
Our last win was Dec. 24, 2016. The fans erupted in excitement that was almost laughable. This was a meaningless, late-season game that meant nothing to the playoffs, yet we were celebrating like it was a playoff victory. Wins are hard to come by for the Browns, so each one counts.
Browns fans still watch every game. Our optimism survives as we know one day we can become a Super Bowl contender. We love the Browns, and continue to love them because we know that all of our dedication and loyalty will reward us when they become a great team.
The Browns are talented this year. Our defense is young and athletic, led by second-year defensive end Myles Garrett. This group has held future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Brees and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to 21 points each week. Our defense has caused eight turnovers, leading the league in this category.
Our offense is led by Taylor, a veteran, experienced quarterback. He is surrounded by star wide receiver Jarvis Landry, athletic tight end David Njoku and running backs Nick Chubb and Carlos Hyde.
The Browns put themselves into position to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Saints, both Super Bowl contenders. But I’m tired of thinking about positives after we lose. The Browns organization has developed a disastrous, losing identity since 2000. And the only remedy for that is to win.