BEREA, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns enjoyed ‘Victory Monday’ at their team headquarters as they now get set for another game on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns defeated the New Orleans Saints, 26-24, for the team’s first home opening win in 10 years.
“It did a lot to validate what we’re trying to build here. The only thing that does that is winning football games,” said head coach Mike Pettine, who said he partied pretty hard following the win. “I celebrated as much as any of them did last night; felt it a little bit this morning.”
Pettine has done a good job getting his young team to buy into what they are doing. That’s tough for a team that has had numerous head coaches and numerous regimes in a short amount of time.
“If he is going to lead us, we’re going to buy into it and I think we all bought into it very well. The success has come and I think the sky is the limit for this team,” said safety Tashaun Gipson. “The way coach Pettine has this team and organization going, it’s going in the right direction.”
Last week against the Steelers, the Browns rallied from 24 points down to tie Pittsburgh before losing the game in the final seconds.
On Sunday, the Browns matched the Saints point for point before quarterback Brian Hoyer led the team 85 yards down the field in 14 plays to set up the game-winning kick by Billy Cundiff.
The Browns accomplished the win without their starting WR Josh Gordon who is suspended, without starting running back Ben Tate is who is out with a knee injury, without tight end Jordan Cameron who is out with a shoulder injury and without their linebacker Barkevious Mingo who is also battling a shoulder injury.
“These are the guys we have; this is the best plan we can put out there, to put ourselves in the best chance to be successful and you get the players to believe in that, go out for a week of practice and execute it and go in the game and swing for the fence,” Pettine said. “When you have nothing to lose, that’s a position we are probably going to find ourselves in a lot, not being favored.”
If anyone knows about the underdog role, it’s quarterback Brian Hoyer who continues to hear from critics and skeptics that he isn’t starting quarterback material in the NFL. Hoyer is 4-1 as the starting quarterback of the Browns and has led the team on two, two-minute game-winning drives in his Cleveland career.
“I understand the skepticism. I’m a guy that was cut three times,” Hoyer said Monday. “I played a little bit last year and had some success. I’m coming off a major knee surgery. A lot of people doubt even the greatest coming back from that. I understand it.”
The Browns made one statement on Sunday with the win over the Saints and they can make another this Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens come to town. The message could be quite simple: This may not be the ‘Same Ole Browns.’ Now they just have to prove it.