What a difference a week makes.
One week after a deflating loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, the Cleveland Browns knew they could not waste their final chance for victory before heading into their annual bye week.
And in snapping a three-game losing streak, as well as an 11-game slide to the Baltimore Ravens with a 24-18 victory at FirstEnergy Stadium, the Browns feel momentum is on their side.
“It’s a big win for us, for our organization, and our guys in the locker room, a real team win,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. “We were able to make the plays when we needed to on offense, defense and special teams. Everybody had a hand in that victory.
“I think our team and our guys showed the type of toughness and resiliency that they’ve shown all season. That’s no surprise to me. From my standpoint, we were able to do what we needed to and really rise up to this challenge. This gives us a nice chance to have nice momentum going into the bye week, where we can focus on what we need to do going forward and getting ready for the last seven games.”
“To come out here and do it with my boys, man, that means a whole lot,” Haden said. “We’ve been working hard and coming up short, and just to get a good win, a good division win like this, it just feels good to do it with my guys.
“If we would’ve lost to the Ravens going into the bye week, it would’ve just left a sour taste in your mouth. Just winning this game makes you realize how good our team is, how good we can really be. It feels like we’re going to go up from here.”
With the win, the Browns find themselves at 4-5 and in second place in the AFC North Division heading into the bye week.
They trail the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals (6-3) by two games, and will face the Bengals, whom they defeated, 17-6, in a Week Four meeting in Cleveland, in their first game after the bye.
Following the game against the Bengals, the Browns return to FirstEnergy Stadium for the first of two games with the Pittsburgh Steelers over the final six weeks of the 2013 regular season.
“I think it’s huge because it gets us ready for the division games we’ve got coming up and it gives us an opportunity because if you win the division, you’re going to the playoffs, and that’s what it’s all about,” said tight end
“I think we’re clicking on everything right now. There’s still some mistakes that we’ve got to fix on both sides, and we’re going to do it. It’s easily done, and that’s what the bye week’s for. We’ll come back, get it all ready to go and be ready to go next week.”
After starting out the season 0-2, and then, suffering through a three-game slide on the heels of a three-game winning streak, Browns left tackle
“It was a special game because we haven’t beaten Baltimore in a while,” Thomas said. “They’re a rival. They’re a division opponent. They’re right even or right near where we are as far as the division race. These games get bigger as you move down the stretch and as there’s a race at the top of the division.”
And being in the hunt in the AFC North Division is exactly where the Browns plan to be at the end of the season.
“We’re in a perfect position right now,” outside linebacker
“We just need to focus like this every game. The city gave us so much support tonight. The fans made it a hell of a game for us, and against a team like that, a rival, especially a conference game, that was just a big deal for us.”