The Browns are close to breaking a record, though not one they strived for. They'd like to avoid it, actually.
They've already played in four overtime games with nine more chances to play another, which is only one shy of the record set by the 1983 Green Bay Packers. No one in the Browns' locker room will admit they're tired, nor has Hue Jackson seen any atrophic symptoms from the additional snaps. If he could barter wins for more overtimes periods, he would. But he did acknowledge that, man, his players have seen a lot of action.
"The overtime [games], I have never been through anything like this." Jackson said. "Our team has probably played a whole other game in overtime. It has been a lot of snaps."
Cleveland's defense played a season-high 95 snaps Sunday. Browns defensive players have logged at least 84 snaps in the four overtime games.
The Browns are 1-2-1 in overtime this season, making their unintentional march toward the record books even tougher to swallow. Theoretically, more overtime experience should amount to more overtime success. That formula hasn't proved true in reality.
"We are not in the game or the league of moral victories. We come out here to win," Browns center JC Tretter said. "We have been frustratingly close at this point where we have been right down the wire, and we feel like almost every game – obviously the Chargers game stands out as one we did not play near well enough to win – but other than that, we have been there in all those instances. I do not think anyone leaves the game like thinking 'Oh, at least we were close that time.' We expect to win football games here. Coaching staff, management, owners and players, we all expect to win now.
"We do not take anything from being close. That is not good enough. That is not what we play this game for. We play to win the football game."
In reality, the Browns have committed as many penalties as any team in the NFL (tied with Kansas City at 58). They also have failed to score a touchdown in the first quarter all season. And while execution in overtime has also been an issue -- they've scored just three points in overtime periods -- the Browns believe they should be winning in regulation. The penalties are self-inflicted. The Browns believe that the slow starts are self-inflicted, too. And if they correct these problems, they believe they won't need overtime to finish opponents.
But if necessary, if they do tie the record, they believe their seasoned five-quarter team will tap into their experience, and that their experience will eventually shine through.
"We feel like we have the upper hand," Jacksons said. "We will play as long as anybody wants to play."