The Browns Played on TV Last Night

That’s Jim Brown. In action-figure form. I’m getting married in two weeks, and presents have been arriving from our Amazon registry. Jim Brown is the only gift we’ve gotten that I picked. It’s otherwise been sheets and kitchen accessories like a turquoise teakettle. I wanted Jim Brown, and my aunt Judy in Ohio got him for us. Look at how awesome he is.

Jim Brown is my favorite football player even though I’m too young to have ever seen him play; he retired 16 years before I was born, as an eight-time NFL rushing champion. I worship him because he’s a Brown, and because the Browns are “my team.” Judy is a favorite aunt, so this curse is partly her fault.

The Browns played in prime time Thursday night, against the Baltimore Ravens. It was the only game you could watch. Two things:

1) The Browns have been so consistently terrible that they almost never play at night on national TV.

2) The Baltimore Ravens WERE the Cleveland Browns. Here’s an ad the announcer read during the game, for an upcoming documentary: “Well, in 1995 the Cleveland Browns picked up and dramatically moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens. That move forever linked the football fortunes of these two cities. Wednesday, take an in-depth look at how it changed the course of history for two great franchises and the people who ran them. Don’t miss ‘Cleveland ’95, A Football Life,’ Wednesday at 8 eastern exclusively on NFL Network.”

You wanna know how it changed things for Cleveland? They watched the Ravens win the Super Bowl and become one of the few consistently good teams in the NFL. Meanwhile, Cleveland was given a new Browns, out of thin air, which has had six different head coaches and 18 starting quarterbacks. That’s right. We’ve covered this before.

It’s so hard not to be jealous. The best kind of football is hard-core defensive football. That’s what really cool. The Ravens have been an awesome defensive team. Future-Hall-of-Fame linebacker Ray Lewis would be an absolute God for Cleveland if the team had never left. And Ed Reed is a safety who scores touchdowns. At quarterback, Joe Flacco has won more games in his first four NFL seasons than any other quarterback, ever.

The Browns have Joe Thomas now, a badass left tackle. That was the best thing about them until they drafted Trent Richardson this year. Richardson does just what he was built for: carries the ball at a high velocity while ramming would be tacklers with his knees and huge, rock-hard arm muscles. He hurts defenders, and he has a feel for the end zone. (On his first TD, he did a high front flip over the goal line.) Richardson fights for yards, dragging defenders with him.

Down 9-0, the Browns made a long drive to the goal line late in the second quarter Thursday night. Richardson ran left at the snap, caught a pitch from his quarterback (Brandon Weeden, a fellow rookie), then won a pure foot race against the defense for the corner of the end zone. He scored untouched.

Weeden, though, threw an interception that got returned for a touchdown at the end of the third quarter. It was the difference in the game, which ended as a 23-16 Ravens win. With 15 seconds left in the fourth, Weeden almost hit a long touchdown that would have tied it. Ed Reed, though, flew through the air and tipped the ball away just as it was just about to be caught.

The Browns are 0-4, destined to take yet another quarterback with their top-three pick in next year’s draft. They are young, though, and look like they’ll get better. They have yet to be blown out this year, which is something. And they have Trent Richardson. He’s no Jim Brown, but the team Jim Brown played for is competing for Super Bowls in Baltimore.

Sigh….

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