The Browns game was all but lost. I had already gone “Zen” with the fact that they were going to lose as has become my custom ever since the Indians loss in the ALCS sealed the worst sports year in sports fan history. You see, I have to just go “Zen” with it because my spiritual being can’t possibly handle the downward propulsion that is the Cleveland sports roller coaster any more. So, toward the end of the game as the Ravens were driving and as Matt Stover kicked a 47-yarder to put the Ravens up 30-27, just like he did last year in Cleveland, I had already committed to emotional neutrality. Not to rip off a certain sportswriter who is a Boston homer on ESPN’s Page 2, but for me it is like being Ivan Drago in Rocky IV saying “if he dies, he dies” only with more resignation than indifference. I just say to myself, “If they lose, they lose” and try to watch without letting my heart explode.
That emotional neutrality was intact until Phil Dawson’s game-tying field goal bounced off the upright, through the goal posts, off the curved center support bar, back through the uprights and into the end zone between the officials. As one official shook his head yes, the other shook his head no. The no’s won it, albeit temporarily, and the teams started shaking hands. I came out of my cocoon to start screaming that the ball had gone through and should have been counted as a field goal, much to the surprise of my wife who had already been the recipient of the announcement that I was officially emotionally detached from the outcome of the contest.
The moment of honesty comes now because I was really just guessing that it should have been a field goal. I had no idea whether or not the ball just had to cross the plane of the goal posts like a TD or whether it had to go all the way through and hit dirt below. Turns out that it just has to cross the plane. The field goal counts. The Ravens have to get back on the field. We go to overtime. The Ravens inexplicably kick to Browns MVP Joshua “Soulja Boy” Cribbs and a few plays later the Browns are kicking a game winning field goal.
I am not ready to announce the end of my “Zen” moments as they relate to Cleveland sports because frankly, I have let my guard down many times before. I will say that the Browns might have finally turned some kind of a corner where the weirdness that can occur during an NFL contest actually benefits them and causes them to be on the winning end of games occasionally. So, for one day the Browns snapped me out of it. The whole emotional neutrality thing is just a defense mechanism against getting my heart stomped week in and week out. I would happily give it up some time down the line. It probably won’t be this season though.
Other game notes:
- Two weeks in a row now the Browns game has been featured in HD! After being snubbed in all games previous to last week’s, this is an improvement.
- The unhappiness of Brian Billick, Ray Lewis, and Bart Scott is a glorious thing. This trio of personalities might be the cockiest in all of the NFL. Seriously, Belichick is as cantankerous as Billick is cocky.
- Can’t Matt Stover just retire already? He is STILL the last little link between the present day Ravens and the old Browns who were shuttled out of town by Art Modell.
- Kyle Boller is not the answer at QB for the Ravens.
- Derek Anderson looks like the answer when he is hot, but against the Ravens he was far from hot. I am not suggesting any changes for the Browns at QB anytime this season, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that Brady Quinn could eventually UPGRADE the QB position.
- The Browns D still looked bad, but for the second week in a row they were able to get sacks. Now if they could do that, while also containing the QB and keeping him from running, that would be swell.
- Eric “Eazy E” Wright went down hurt with a knee injury. Brandon McDonald filled in and looked ok, but Wright will be missed if he is down for long.
- The Browns haven’t lost two in a row yet this year. You have no idea how surprising that statistic is for me.
- The Ravens’ season is all but over as their next three opponents are San Diego, New England and the Colts.
- The Browns’ next three opponents are the Texans, Cardinals, and Jets.