The Cleveland Browns finish Fan Appreciation Week and conclude the home portion of the 2013 regular season Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
And according to the Browns’ players and coaches, there will be nothing sweeter than giving the fans a victory over the Bears and ending the year with a 4-4 record at home for the second consecutive season.
“I definitely want to get this win for our fans,” Browns safety T.J. Ward said. “We want to put on a good show for them, show our support, show our appreciation for them coming out and supporting us. It’d just be great to get back in the win column.
“We’ve played some good ball these last couple weeks and just haven’t been able to pull out the win. It would be great to get the win in front of the home crowd this week.”
Ward wants to win Sunday because he knows what it will mean to the fans, especially after bringing 71,239 fans to their feet by sealing a 37-24 win over the Buffalo Bills with a 47-yard interception return for a touchdown at FirstEnergy Stadium on Oct. 3.
“I definitely feel this is the best crowd in the NFL,” Ward said. “They show endless support for us. They’re loud when we need them to be on defense, and they always sell out. It’s definitely the best place to play in the NFL.
“Absolutely, they’re very emotional. They get on our backs when we need them to, and it’s just a great crowd.”
And while they want to win in front of the home fans one more time this season, the coaches and players have more than just talked about their goal for the week. They spent many hours breaking down film to discover Chicago’s tendencies and showed focus during their on-field work and meetings.
“We’re looking to be committed to being at our best for this game and excited about being at home and this being our last game at home,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. “It’s important for us to play this December.
“These are important games for us, and that’s been our approach all along. I want to see us continue to make progress, and as I’ve mentioned before, I feel like we’re on the right track. These games are important for that.”
Chudzinski said Sunday’s game, and the final two on the road, at the New York Jets (Dec. 22) and Pittsburgh Steelers (Dec. 29), could go a long way in setting up the offseason program and 2014 regular season.
“There’s aspects and elements that can carry over,” Chudzinski said. “Certainly, what you do at the end of the season doesn’t necessarily guarantee what you’re going to do at the start of the next season, but I think the thing that I like is that we developed a mindset with this team. I’ve seen that evolve, and it will continue to evolve.
“I think there’s a number of things, from a player development standpoint that we’ve been able to do. I think you’re seeing some guys taking some steps. Those are the things that you would want to go forward as you’re pushing through an offseason and into the next season.”