Even up

The Browns improved to 12-4 all-time against the New Orleans Saints with a dramatic 26-24 home win, the first NFL head coaching victory for Mike Pettine. Here are a few fast facts in the wake of a hard-fought Cleveland triumph.

  • Today’s triumph breaks the Browns’ eight-game losing streak. Their last win before today came at home against the vile Baltimore Ravens, who return to town next week.
  • Billy Cundiff‘s last-minute winning field goal was set up by Andrew Hawkins‘ 28-yard reception, which was 11 yards longer than the Browns’ otherwise longest play from scrimmage all day.
  • The Browns’ defense also didn’t allow a play longer than 28 yards.
  • Other than the game-ending squib, Cundiff’s kickoffs — as was the case last week — were all either touchbacks or returned shy of the 20 yard line.
  • That final play was officially a fumble recovered by the Browns, improving their takeaway-giveaway margin to 3-0 on the season.
  • Tashaun Gipson‘s 62-yard interception return for a touchdown was the Browns first “pick 6” since he did it last December against Chicago. It was Cleveland’s third such scoring return off Drew Brees in their last two games against him.
  • Giving literal meaning to “pick 6,” the Browns failed to convert the PAT. It was their first unsuccessful conversion since Phil Dawson had one blocked in Chicago in November 2009.
  • Isaiah Crowell is averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Terrance West is on an early pace to rush for 1,344 yards this season. 
  • The two rookies have accounted for three rushing touchdowns so far. The Browns had four all last year.
  • Johnny Manziel saw his first regular-season action and now has the lowest completion percentage in the history of pro football. (I kid, but it’s true.)
  • In each game, the Browns have been significantly outgained (total yards and yards per play), allowed more first downs than they’ve made, and kept the ball less than half the game. Yet they’re now 1-1 and have only been outscored by one point.
  • The last time the Browns won a game 26-24 was also a Week 2 game (2005) against an NFC opponent (Green Bay) with a future Hall of Fame quarterback (Brett Favre), the first head coaching victory for a former defensive coordinator (Romeo Crennel). And as with today, the Browns got a solid contribution from a tight end (Steve Heiden) playing in place of their injured star starter (Wheelie).
  • New ILB Karlos Dansby has made an early impact in each game so far, intercepting Big Ben last week, and sacking Brees out of field goal range late in the fourth quarter today, possibly the biggest play of the game. He led the team in tackles with eight solo (two for losses) and four assists.