CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It wasn’t the ending Cleveland wanted, but the Browns gave the Dawg Pound an unforgettable 12-6 season as they played through the pandemic.
The Browns winningest season since 1994 ended in the AFC Divisional Round by falling to the Chiefs in Kansas City 22-17.
After the game, Head Coach Kevin Stefanski said, “I’m extremely disappointed that we weren’t able to get the job done today... We had our opportunity there late in that ball game and we didn’t do it. So, we’re gonna share in this defeat like we share in those victories. And it hurts... and there’s a finality to this when you don’t get it done in the playoffs. That really hurts. I appreciate how our guys battled. They fought like they do every single week, and it just wasn’t enough today.”
DE Myles Garrett kicked off his interview by saying the team was praying for Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes after he was taken out of the game in the third quarter following a hit from Browns LB Mack Wilson.
The Chiefs confirmed Mahomes was being evaluated for a concussion and later downgraded him to being out.
Garrett simultaneously stood up for this teammate, saying “nobody on our team is headhunting, or going after a guy, trying to hurt a guy, no matter how good he is.”
Before the first question could even be asked, Garrett wanted to make it known “I’m proud of my guys, before that question is even asked. I’m proud of everything they’ve done this year. They fought, they battled, they made plays, and we were one play away from being where we were supposed to be. But, sometimes, that’s just how it rolls. Those guys never stopped fighting on offense or defense. That’s what I’m looking forward to next year- getting another chance and being one play away and making the next one count.”
When asked about what he made of WR Rashad Higgin’s fumble into the endzone, QB Baker Mayfield said, “obviously, it was gonna be a big play, and that’s the easy finger-pointing answer. But there’s so many other plays we could’ve done.”
“We hurt ourselves in the first half and they capitalized. That’s what the good teams do. They were better than us.”
The flicker of danger in our QB1′s eye came back when he talked about what’s to come for the Browns.
“Each year, there’s turnover inside the locker room, which is unfortunate because we had an extremely special group here... I told some of the guys that for sure are gonna be back that we will be back. As I’ve said and restated as the seasons gone on: There’s a new standard here, and that’s to be expected. We’ve come a long way since I first got here, but we’re not done yet. And, that’s the best part…”
G Joel Bitonio faced his media availability with optimism towards the future as he said, “I think coming back next year, I think we’re gonna have a lot more experience, you know. If you’ve been on Cleveland before, you know, you maybe won.. seven games was the most wins you’ve had. So, we learned how to win a little bit this year and hopefully, we can use that experience next year and take it a little bit farther.”
All in all, it’s a tougher loss when you come so close.
But take heart, Cleveland...
ESPN pointed out that the Browns ended the longest winning-season drought and the longest playoff drought in the NFL.
Oh, and you can’t forget kicking the Steelers out of the playoffs in the Wild Card Round 48-37 with the Browns’ first playoff win since the 1994 season.
NFL Network host Rich Eisen also gave Cleveland words of encouragement by referring to how the Browns proved Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster wrong after he called the Browns “nameless gray faces” when he said, “the Browns is the Browns.”
Even GV Art + Apparel, who clapped back at JuJu by sending him their T-shirt that reads, “Same old Cleveland Browns... Not anymore! There’s a new breed in town,” tried to lift fans’ spirits.
“One thing is clear. This is not the ‘Same Old Cleveland!,” the Northeast Ohio creative boutique said.
Cavs player Larry Nance Jr. may have been upset over the Cleveland loss, but he knows this is just the beginning for the Browns.