The Cleveland Browns played a very exciting four quarters of football on Sunday afternoon against the Chicago Bears and were able to pick up a 20-17 victory in a miraculous way.
Although the Browns were trailing 17-7 heading into the fourth quarter, the Browns top ranked defense against the run and the pass was able to limit the Bears ability to move the ball efficiently in the later stages of the game.
This dominant defensive performance allowed the Browns offense time to regroup under the direction of former Super Bowl MVP Quarterback Joe Flacco.
I guess there is a reason we always hear that "Defense Wins Championships."
Although not entirely accurate, a great championship defense can sometimes make up for a less than stellar offensive performance.
That appears to have been what happened in Sunday afternoon's 20-17 victory over the Chicago Bears in which the outcome of the game was in doubt until the last possible instant when the Bears receiver was unable to hold on to former OSU star Justin Field's Hail Mary pass.
Coach Stefanski's Thoughts on the Game
After Sunday's game, Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski talked about the great effort the team put fourth to get the victory and how important the Cleveland Browns fans were in helping the Browns win.
"Obviously, a great team win. You know, I just – I appreciate that locker room," said Stefanski.
"That’s a bunch of fighters in there. It’s not always pretty. Wasn’t perfect, not going to be perfect. But to see those guys fight for 60 minutes – which we needed all 60, to push through. Guys pushing through injuries, guys out of the lineup, guys filling in, that’s a resilient bunch in there."
In addition to praising the effort the team put forth, Stefanski said that the team needed the support that the fans gave them.
"Yeah, it was a beautiful day out there and proud of the crew that was in there cheering and I’ve said this before, we need them," said Stefanski.
"It takes everybody, and I’m serious, it takes our fans, too. I mean, they make such a huge difference. I don’t think anybody likes coming here and playing in front of our fans. We love it.”
As Stefanski said, the Browns had to be resilient throughout the 60 minutes of game time.
During the first 15 minutes, both teams were held scoreless. However, the Chicago Bears got on the scoreboard first in the second quarter when Justin Fields found Cole Kmet open in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown pass.
The Browns tied the game later in the second quarter when Flacco connected with David Njoku on a two-yard touchdown pass.
The Bears scored ten points in the third quarter on a pick six and field goal to take a 17-7 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Browns got to within seven points after Dustin Hopkins connected on a 33-yard field goal with 12:27 left in the game.
Then with 3:08 left in the game, Flacco connected with Amari Cooper on a 51-yard touchdown pass.
After Hopkins converted the extra point, the Browns were now tied with the Bears.
The Browns then took the lead, 20-17 with 32 seconds left on Dustin Hopkins 34-yard field goal.
The Bears got the ball back with 32 seconds left and almost won the game on a last second Hail Mary. However, Justin Fields's pass bouncesd out of arms of the Bears receiver in the end zone and into the hands of the Brown's Ronnie Harmon who made the interception and returned the football to the one yard line as time expired.
Joe Flacco's Excellent Fourth Quarter Performance
Although Flacco did not have a great game (28-44 for 344 yards, 2 TDs, 3 interceptions, and a 77.3 passer rating) he was good enough to help manage the game and was able to put the Browns in a position to win because of this historic defense.
And in the fourth quarter, Flacco was amazing! In fact, Flacco completed 11 of 13 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown.
Many of the passes Flacco completed in the game were to tight end David Njoku. Clearly, it appears the Browns have a star player at tight-end.
Njoku led the Browns with 10 catches for 104 yards.
Stefanski talked about Njoku's excellent game in the post-game press conference.
"Yeah, you know, I just talked about David in that locker room," said Stefanski. "I’m proud of Dave and the person he is and the player he is.
"He’s got that mentality where he fights for everything and I mean, he put it on display today. He really did. So, we needed him. He’s a great leader for our football team."
I hope fans reading had a great time attending the game, and/or watching or following the Browns game.
What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon in December! It's been a long time (33 years) to see this kind of fun from the Cleveland Browns.