Entering this past weekend, nearly three years had passed since the Browns celebrated a Victory Monday.
That changed yesterday when Cleveland slipped past the Baltimore Ravens in overtime, notching its first win on a Sunday since December 2015.
In the process, the Browns improved to 2-2-1 (their best start since 2014) and remain undefeated at home with two victories and a tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener. After three games decided in overtime and five that have come down to the wire, there's a certain optimism that abounds in Berea that this year's team can go toe-to-toe with anyone.
"I think our team has shown that they can compete and play against anybody when we do things right and we do the things that we are coached to do. I feel comfortable with our team playing anybody," coach Hue Jackson said Monday.
"At the same time, we know that there is still work to be done. We know that we have a lot of things to continue to clean up. Hopefully, as we keep going, we will be a team that can play anybody at any place and at any time."
The Browns' five games — win, lose or draw — have been decided by an average of 2.6 points.
— Rashard Higgins will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis with an MCL sprain, Jackson said. The third-year wide receiver suffered the injury Sunday after catching three passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. "He played well, obviously he was doing some really good things," Jackson said. "We'll miss him until we get him back. He's been very consistent for our football team."
— With five catches for 69 yards against the Ravens, wide receiver Jarvis Landry surpassed Larry Fitzgerald for the most all-time by an NFL player through their first five seasons. Landry now has 429 receptions against Fitzgerald's 426. On the field, the former Miami Dolphins standout leads the team in receptions (29) and receiving yards (381) this season. Off of it, Landry has been a fiery tone-setter.
"I think that what he says, he means. He walks the talk, as I should say," Jackson said. "The guy loves football. He is always out there. He is very competitive. He has not really missed anything. There was one day in practice, but this guy is trying to be out there every day. I know that sometimes physically he is hurting, but he fights through it because I think that he understands how important it is to be out there at practice. In games, he shows up and makes plays. At times, when we need big time plays, he makes plays. That, to me, is invaluable in this league."
— After Sunday's win, veteran running back Carlos Hyde called rookie Baker Mayfield "a different breed" of quarterback. He further outlined that belief Monday, saying the 23-year-old's charisma and confidence at Oklahoma struck him before either player was members of the Browns.
"When I first saw the video, it was him dancing when he was in college in Oklahoma. That's when I knew that Baker was a different breed," he said, laughing. "He's not like most quarterbacks. He has some swag to it, and I love it especially from the quarterback position. I say that because of the way he plays. The way he carries himself – a guy who has been here and done it before. It's nothing new to him."
Mayfield passed for a career-high 342 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 25-of-43 attempts. In overtime, he engineered a late drive that set up a game-winning field goal with 2 seconds to go in the extra period.
— With two more takeaways against Baltimore, the Browns lead the NFL with 15 forced turnovers in five games as opposed to the 2017 team that finished with 13.
"It's very rewarding because it's the thing that we've focused and preached about most throughout the whole offseason," linebacker Joe Schobert said. "To be able to preach about it, practice it, be able to do it in practice and then be able to take it over to game day is extremely rewarding. It is what you do as a professional. You try to take stuff from the practice field to the game, and apply it and be able to contribute and do it. The fact that we have been able to do it just shows how hard and how focused everybody on the defense has been this whole offseason and in training camp. We are just starting to see the rewards of our hard work."