One day after their 28-14 victory against the Titans, several members of the Cleveland Browns gathered with their wives and girlfriends back at FirstEnergy Stadium for the annual Taste of the Browns event, a charity event held in the City Club benefitting the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
On Victory Monday, nearly 1,000 Browns fans showed up in their fancy business attire for a few hours of heavy hors d'oeuvres and cocktails. Joe Haden helped emcee a silent auction, Joe Thomas mingled with the crowd, Christian Kirksey posed for selfies and both Isaiah Crowell and Paul Kruger escorted their moms around the sprawling community event and Sunday's hero, Travis Benjamin received an enthusiastic welcome. Over 25 current and alumni players came out to support feeding hungry Clevelanders, and those in the 6 county reach of the Food Bank. Haden and Judge Dick Ambrose returned as the Honorary Co-Chairs of the evening
"It's much easier to emcee this after a win," Haden joked with the playful crowd.
The 17th annual Taste of the Browns event, hosted by the Browns and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, featured unique and acclaimed culinary talents - all while providing hundreds of thousands of meals to needy Northeast Ohioans. The event is projected to help provide more than 800,000 meals this year.
Dinner party chatter revolved around 22-year-old quarterback Johnny Manziel winning his first NFL game, Benjamin's ability to hit home runs as a playmaker and the defense cranking it up a notch.
The other hot topic was the passionate way the city of Cleveland welcomed back its football team to the gridiron nestled next to Lake Erie.
We get it: Every team around the NFL says they have the best fans in the league.
But coach Mike Pettine gave a detailed answer at his Monday press conference, profoundly praising the Dawg Pound for helping befuddle the Titans offense. Tennessee committed two delay of game penalties and one false start; rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota burnt up five of his timeouts throughout the game; confusion before the snap became the norm.
"I thought the crowd did an outstanding job," Pettine said. "I think it is a good blend. It is a good marriage from a standpoint of what we do defensively requires a lot of communication on offense. We move guys around. We will line up in some different front. We are not a standard four-down team where it is a little easier to identify, make protection calls and those types of things. We force teams to communicate a lot. When it is noisy at our place, it is certainly an advantage."
Joel Bitonio said it was so loud when the defense was on the field, he and the offensive linemen were having serious trouble hearing each other.
"We had to lean in to talk to each other," Bitonio said. "We paused for a minute there and were like, 'It's so loud in here.'"
"We couldn't really hear our checks on defense, so we were using hand signals," Haden said. "I think that definitely helped throw Mariota off. It helped us out a whole lot on third downs when he couldn't really hear what was coming through his headset. Cleveland came out there and helped us."
All of a sudden, a Week 3 game against the Oakland Raiders at FirstEnergy Stadium is sneaking up as one of the more underrated NFL matchups.
The Raiders are coming off a confidence-boosting 37-33 victory against the Baltimore Ravens – who dropped to 0-2. Quarterback Derek Carr, wide receiver Amari Cooper and linebacker Khalil Mack have the Oakland fan base buzzing with what's to come.
Whether it's Manziel or at quarterback, the Browns' formula will be similar every week at home: Start fast on offense, force three-and-outs on defense and unleash the crowd once the early lead is seized.
"We need you Cleveland," Haden said.