Last night the Cleveland Browns used a mixture of luck, good offensive execution and Pittsburgh turnovers to go up 28-0 in the first quarter of their NFL Playoff game against the Steelers.
The good news for the Browns was that they were up 28-0 in a playoff game. The bad news? Well, there was a lot of game left, and this was the Cleveland Browns. Prior to last night the Browns hadn’t won a playoff game since 1994. Prior to last week the Browns hadn’t finished a regular season with a winning record since the same year. In the 27 years between then and now there has been a lot of heartbreak for the Browns.
There was also plenty of heartbreak prior to 1994. The Browns have been part of choke jobs that were so epic that they have names. There was “Red Right 88” in 1981, John Elway’s “The Drive” and Ernest Byner’s infamous “The Fumble.”
As a Georgia fan it would be unfair to compare our heartbreak to the stink that has wofted over the Cuyahoga River since Bill Belichick left town the year after that 94 run to the playoffs. Georgia has been good enough to play in and win some very big games over the last two-and-a-half decades, and nobody ever packed up Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall and moved it to Baltimore.
That being said, we Georgia fans know the doubt that starts to creep in when things are going too well with too much time left on the clock. I want to keep myself out of a depressive hole, so I won’t recount them all here, but y’all know what I mean. I’m sure you can imagine how Cleveland fans everywhere must have felt when suddenly a lead that was 28-0 after the first quarter and 35-10 at halftime had shrank to 35-23 late in the 3rd quarter.
(This is where Falcons fans start nodding sadly to themselves)
On top of all the history that the Browns have, their quarterback also had some playoff demons in his past. Insert Baker Mayfield, last seen on this blog at the 2018 Rose Bowl.
Mayfield lead his Oklahoma Sooners to a 31-14 lead by catching a touchdown pass right before the half. Following that play he ran up and down the Sooners sideline, slashing his throat and mouthing “it’s over” to the Georgia bench. This is where we remind everyone to never celebrate anything until the clock hits zero.
With things heading south for the Browns, some folks couldn’t help but remember Baker Mayfield’s last appearance in a playoff game.
I apologize to the OU fans who still follow me, but I have seen Baker Mayfield lose a playoff game in the second half.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) January 11, 2021
2018 Rose Bowl, Georgia came back to win 54-48 after OU led 31-17 at half. (thanks for reminding me, @JoeBuettner).
Two things turned the tide in that Rose Bowl. The first was Rodrigo Blankenship’s 55-yard bomb before halftime. The second was this run by Nick Chubb in Georgia’s first possession of the second half,
As it looked like Cleveland might be on its way to an epic choke for a new generation that would also lose me a moneyline bet on the Browns I vacillated back and forth between sadness at losing money and amusement at the potential of someone topping 28 to 3.
But I of all people should have known that there is one major difference between Baker Mayfield in the 2018 Rose Bowl and Baker Mayfield now. In 2021 he has Nick Chubb on his team.
Full disclosure here, loving Nick Chubb is canon in this house. He is one of my favorite Dawgs of all-time, and when my now fiancé and I first started dating he was the first player she latched onto. Our Toyota 4Runner was bought just a few months after the aforementioned Rose Bowl, and she has affectionately referred to it as Chubb since the moment we drove it off the lot.
I’m not an avid watcher of the NFL, but I do love playoff football in all forms. A small wager made me a Brown fan last night, and I must admit that I had forgotten how much damn fun it is to pull for a team that Nick Chubb plays for. There was something comforting about watching one of the greatest Dawgs ever do what he does best to the tune of 145 all-purpose yards and the touchdown that broke Pittsburgh’s back.
A lot has changed in our world over the past twelve months, and at times the future feels uncertain. However there are still sure things in life, and we must tip our cap at our former nemesis Mayfield for knowing the Golden Rule.
GIVE NICHOLAS JAMAAL CHUBB THE FOOTBALL AND GET OUT OF THE WAY