Off the Injured Reserve

So first I want to apologize for making you wait for Week 5’s post. I came down with a cold Saturday night that the team trainer (aka my husband) upgraded to a sinus infection on Sunday. And although my ability to watch the game was questionable, the coach (aka my husband—he’s a man of many talents) gave me a solid game time pep talk, and I hung in there. Unfortunately, it took everything I had to get through the game, and I had to put myself on injured reserve until today.

The silver lining, however, is that I’ve had more time than usual to process the highs and lows from the last game against Buffalo, and here’s where I’m at—

1. The first two minutes of that game were excruciating.

Greg Little should not be returning kickoffs. He caught one glimpse of the Bills’ special teams running at him and froze. (Update—Apparently, Chud totally disagrees with me, and Little will be returning kickoffs again this week. The Browns did, however, pick up Fozzy (not the bear) Whittaker on waivers from the Chargers this week, so Little will at least have a backup if he totally chokes. Which, you know, is likely.)

And then Josh Gordon missed an opportunity for a HUGE play on 3rd down, and the Browns had to punt it away. So, listen, Joshua, Josh, Josh-y… You have to catch the football before you turn to run. Otherwise, the whole running part is pointless. I have full confidence in you. You can do this. (You’d better do this!)

Then, Joe Haden, who is arguably one of the best corners in the league, got called for pass interference in the endzone. While this is uncharacteristic of him, I was out of patience and unforgiving at the moment, especially after his “oops” led to Buffalo scoring their first touchdown of the evening.

All in all, pretty bad first two minutes of football.

2. But apparently, it could get worse.

You see, God hates Cleveland. Listen. I’m not trying to be sacrilegious. It’s just that there is no other explanation for what happened next. Brian Hoyer, our knight in shining armor, our hometown hero, our… you get the picture… is driving the ball down the field, and Browns fans are cheering, and I’m cheering (hoarsely), and then—

Hoyer scrambles for 11 yards to get the first down, goes to slide, and the Bills’ rookie superstar Kiko Alonso slams him on his way to the ground. It was ugly. (Which of course means that the NFL Network unnecessarily replayed it a bajillion times. Can we stop doing that?) And that was it—a torn ACL, and Hoyer is out for the season.

Andrew Sharp, a staff editor at Grantland.com, jotted down three thoughts that crossed his mind at that moment:

How is this even possible? Are you serious?
The jokes about God hating Cleveland… they are not jokes. (See, it’s not just me.)
When do these fans just light themselves on fire?

And I have to admit. That’s about where I was at that point.

(PS—You should really take the time to read Sharp’s entire article about his weekend in Cleveland at http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/76925/a-field-trip-to-believeland. He really captures what it means to be a Cleveland sports fan, you know, in a nice way.)

3. And yet, it still got worse.

Brandon Weeden took the field to the cacophonous booing of heartbroken Browns fans. (Side Note—This is something I absolutely do NOT condone. It’s not like Weeden or the coaching staff had a choice at that point. Also, do you think booing makes your quarterback play better? I’m going to go with “no” here.) Anyway, Weeden proceeds to be Weeden in every way. He can’t get rid of the ball fast enough, and the O-line can’t protect him, and the Browns get nowhere.

4. And then, a tiny man from the U saved the day!

I have been loving on Travis Benjamin since Week 1. (www.brownsbabe.com/2013/09/17/oh-and-two) And, man, did he put on a show—a punt return for 57 yards that led to a field goal, followed by a punt return for 79 yards and a touchdown!

Now, most special teams coaches will tell punt returners that you almost never try to cross the field at the beginning of your return. Most people are simply not fast enough to cross the entire field (53 yards and a foot) and then gain any substantial yardage before the other team makes contact. But Benjamin is not most people. In 2012, he bested all other draftees at the NFL Combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds. 4.36 SECONDS! The man is fast.

And just like that, the Browns are back in the game.

(PS—For more on why his teammates are calling him Rabbit, check out this great ESPN article on Benjamin: http://www.espn.go.com/blog/cleveland-browns/post/_/id/818/the-rabbit-from-the-glades-to-cleveland.)

5. And then The Nasty Boys put it away.

Even though they allowed more run yardage than in weeks past, the defense really looked good the whole game.

Ahtyba Rubin announced the end of his injured status with a HUGE sack on E.J. Manuel in the first quarter. And the Age of Barkevious continued on. While Mingo didn’t record a sack against the Bills, he recorded 4 solid tackles and even showed off some new skills in the secondary, lowering his shoulder like a veteran safety and taking out wide receiver T.J. Graham on a big hit. But the defensive star of the night was undoubtedly T.J. Ward, who recorded his first Pick-6 in the NFL off backup QB Jeff Tuel at the end of the fourth quarter, clinching the game for the Browns.

Hell yeah, they’re The Nasty Boys. And their nasty defense chalked up 18 fantasy points for yours truly in that game. Go D!

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