Have you ever heard the phrase, “when hell freezes over?” It is often accompanied with a feat that is nearly impossible to accomplish, and up until Sunday, the phrase usually came after a statement about the Cleveland Browns winning a playoff game. Imagine if Cleveland could ever make the Super Bowl.
Well, after making their first playoff appearance since 2002, hell must be getting a little chilly. Somehow, someway, the Browns managed to pull off an upset against the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers to grab their first playoff win since 1994.
Coming into Sunday, it appeared as though the Browns were stumbling toward another Cleveland-type end to the season– a fast exit at the hands of one of their rivals.
The Browns, clearly, didn’t see it that way.
A very unfamiliar sight revealed itself at kickoff: The Browns showed up and showed up big. Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield played excellent, mistake-free football, then ended the night putting his hat on backward for his biggest fan, Colin Cowherd.
Running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt blew up for 206 total yards. Cleveland’s defense forced five turnovers and perhaps the retirement of Big Ben. The biggest surprise was the Browns jumping out to a 28-0 explosion in the first quarter and maintaining the lead. Their 48-37 upset sends Cleveland on to face the Kansas City Chiefs next week.
A playoff win of this stature is big for any franchise, but when talking about the Cleveland Browns, a franchise that has a history of botching everything season after season, this might as well be a Hallmark feel-good movie.
Now hope is alive for a fan base which has been so accustomed to losing that — even with a 28-0 lead over the Steelers — they were still glued to the television screen expecting a collapse. Fans, along with the rest of the football world, are wondering if it was a fluke or not.
While their win Sunday night may have been a one time Corvette-driven win, they could do it again this Sunday against the heavily favored defending champions, the Chiefs. Considering the type of year the NFL has pushed through– along with the rest of the world–wouldn’t a Browns Super Bowl win to cap it off just feel poetic?
The era of the Super Bowl began way back in 1969, since that year’s game (Super Bowl III) between the New York Jets and Baltimore Colts was the first game called the Super Bowl before kickoff. (The first two Super Bowls retroactively received the name, so in a specific sense, the Super Bowl era began in 1967. Both answers, 1967 and 1969, would be allowable on a sports trivia quiz.)
The year 1969? That’s before many of us were even thought of. Since then, rock and roll rose and fell, Michael Jackson and Madonna dated, Tupac was killed, and Lori Harvey was knighted by Twitter. What hasn’t happened during that time is the Browns making the Super Bowl.
The closest the team came to reaching that feat was in 1986, 1987 and 1989, when they reached the AFC Championship Game and lost to the same team, the Denver Broncos. To summarize, the last time they came close to the Super Bowl, Madonna’s Like a Prayer was the top-selling song and Batman was the highest-grossing movie of that year.
Since then, the Browns have been unable to break through– just four years ago failing to win a single game during the regular season.
A team with that level of historical disappointment being able to push through a pandemic season and win the Super Bowl as clear underdogs would not only personify 2020, but also call for Baker Mayfield to be knighted alongside Lori Harvey.
The Browns have a very difficult road ahead of them, one that may be a dead-end this Sunday against the Chiefs. With the current state of global warming, hell freezing over seems highly unlikely. Yet, the Browns showed us against the Steelers that hell is getting a little chilly.