The Cleveland Browns are in the midst of a three-game winning streak, and the last two victories have come in front of the home fans at FirstEnergy Stadium.
One of the team’s mission statements before the start of the 2013 season was to create the best home-field advantage in football, and after the last two weeks, the players are well aware of the passion the city has for the Browns. Before heading on the road for games at Green Bay and Kansas City over the next two weeks, they want to get a victory against the Detroit Lions Sunday.
“If you want to build a solid team, you’ve got to win at home,” said D’Qwell Jackson, an eight-year NFL veteran and captain of the Browns’ defense. “You’ve got to win your division games. You’ve got to win at home. It’s hard as heck to win on the road in this league, let alone any game.
“Detroit’s coming in, and we definitely want to take advantage of this three-game stretch where we do have the ability to play at home because right now is the most important time where you can tally up the most wins you can so when you get to late November, early December, things kind of fall into place for you.”
After an emotional, 31-27, come-from-behind victory at Minnesota on Sept. 22, the Browns returned home for a game against their in-state rival, the Cincinnati Bengals. In front of 71,481 fans, Cleveland earned a 17-6 victory.
Then, four days later, the Browns registered another come-from-behind victory, as safety T.J. Ward punctuated the comeback with a 44-yard interception return for a touchdown, followed quickly by a leap into the stands to celebrate with the fans, whom he brought to their feet with the takeaway.
According to Jackson, the players could feel the emotions within the stadium after the back-to-back home wins.
“I’ve felt the emotions of the fans for eight years, so I totally understand,” Jackson said. “It’s a great time to be in the city. With the Indians, they finally got a Wildcard spot, and the fans deserve it. The fans deserve a winner, and that’s what we’re trying to do here. We’ve just got to keep building, keep putting out good practices, and actually be able to win some tough games.”
The excitement Weeden saw in the days following the win over Buffalo only helped to confirm something he has felt since joining the Browns in April of 2012.
“I personally think we have the best fans in the National Football League,” Weeden said. “These are some of the best people, smart football fans in the league, and I get it. They get it. You don’t want to hear those (boos), but if you can make a couple throws and put a couple drives together, hopefully, you turn those into cheers, and as a player, that’s what you want. That’s why I love playing in Cleveland. The people here, the fans have been nothing short of extraordinary.”