There were the highest of highs, when the Indians clinched a playoff spot Sunday and the Browns beat a division rival to put themselves in a tie for first in the AFC North.
There were the lowest of lows, when the Indians were bounced from the playoffs after just one game – a 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays – in front of a raucous sellout crowd at Progressive Field.
Then, there were the surprises. The Browns, after falling behind 10-0 and losing their starting quarterback for the remainder of the season on national television, rallying to score 37 points and trounce the Buffalo Bills in primetime.
The future holds many questions. Can the Browns remain a viable contender for the remainder of the season without Hoyer, who was the largest glimmer of hope in an offense that was just starting to get it? Will the Indians find the necessary pieces to catapult them to further success in 2014, or was this just a “one hit wonder” for the current roster?
For now, though, Cleveland fans can breathe. The past week, an unquestionable emotional roller coaster, delivered its highlights and low points. But at the end of the day, Cleveland avoided following up one of the best sports weekends in the city’s history with possibly the worst two-day stretch, just three days later. For this town, that’s an accomplishment.
As fans, we spent all day Sunday raving about how the tide was finally turning. How we had hope again as a city. How #Believeland suddenly wasn’t a pipe dream, and was inching closer to reality. It’s not often that we’re able to feel that way. But if the Indians and Browns would’ve lost in successive days, just three days after the birth of such amazing hope and pride … well, all of those feelings would be out the window. For a moment, the worst-case scenario almost came true. The Indians, who carried an aura of “magic” about them for the month of September, watched that come to an abrupt halt, in front of a fan base that was finally starting to believe again. Then the Browns, in the national spotlight at home for the first time in who knows when, lost their starting quarterback, fell behind 10-0, and looked like a team #battling it’s way through another lost cause, instead of contending for first place in the division.
Admit it: If you were at both games, or watching both games, you were thinking “here we go again” midway through the first quarter on Thursday. We all were. It’s the Cleveland way. We’ve been stung so many times that it’s almost stopped hurting.
Thankfully, this time it was different. This time, the Browns rose to the occasion. They stopped the bleeding, regained their composure, and put together a gutsy comeback effort that displayed the fingerprints of all three phases of the team. So they lost their quarterback? Fine … special teams and defense would rise to the occasion. So they gave up the lead early in the second half? Fine, the backup quarterback would manage to get it back.
The tide was turning for this city last Sunday. It almost turned around last night. But it didn’t. And even though the baseball team is out of the playoffs, and even though the football team might not finish the year in first place … the current state of Cleveland sports can presently be celebrated. Let’s embrace that celebration.