CLEVELAND — The final time the Cleveland Browns gained 4 of their first 5 video games to start out a season, Invoice Belichick was their head coach. Present coach Kevin Stefanski hadn’t even entered highschool.
With Sunday’s 32-23 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland moved to 4-1 for the primary time since 1994. The Browns went on to complete 11-5 that season to make the playoffs, defeating New England within the wild-card spherical. However following a dropping season a yr later, then-owner Artwork Modell relocated the franchise to Baltimore and fired Belichick.
Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland delivered one in every of its greatest victories since.
The Browns dominated the primary half offensively, then pressured Colts quarterback Philip Rivers right into a pair of crucial errors within the second, leading to 9 defensive factors.
“We’re coming collectively as a crew,” mentioned defensive finish Myles Garrett, who was on the infamous 0-16 Browns crew as a rookie in 2017. “Doing all of it in each section.”
Indianapolis’ protection entered the weekend ranked No. 1 within the league in fewest yards allowed with 236 per recreation. But even with beginning operating again Nick Chubb sidelined by a knee harm, Cleveland rolled up 284 yards within the first half alone and scored on all 4 possessions earlier than halftime, with large receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. propelling each landing drives with a sequence of spectacular receptions.
“That is the belief I’ve in these guys. Very gifted gamers,” mentioned quarterback Baker Mayfield, who wasn’t even alive but in 1994. “Even when they’re lined, it is one-on-one — we belief them to win these matchups.”
Mayfield suffered a rib harm within the fourth quarter of Sunday’s recreation however X-rays got here again unfavorable.
Within the second half, Cleveland’s protection turned it on, as Ronnie Harrison Jr. intercepted Rivers for a 47-yard pick-six on the opening possession. Then within the fourth quarter, Garrett pressured Rivers into an intentional grounding from the top zone, giving the Browns a security and a 29-20 lead.
Cody Parkey‘s game-clinching, 46-yard subject aim with 21 seconds to go gave Cleveland 30-plus factors for a fourth consecutive recreation for the primary time since 1968.
“Very particular,” Landry mentioned of the Browns’ four-game successful streak. “We proceed to take strides each week.”
Cleveland returned to the NFL in 1999 — one yr earlier than Belichick took over the Patriots — however has made the playoffs solely as soon as since. The Browns personal the league’s longest lively postseason drought at 18 years.
“I feel we now have a methods to go,” mentioned Stefanski, who already has extra wins in a month as Cleveland’s head coach than the Browns had mixed from 2015 to 2017. “We’re on this to win it. We all know that. Each week we’re attempting to win these video games, and they will be exhausting. … However we’ll have fun this one first.”