Wow. The Browns' 51-45 shootout victory over the Bengals was the single most
confounding and befuddling event in Cleveland sports since…well…since Indians
second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera
first took the field while wearing Barbara
If we take the Tribe out of the mix, Sunday's game was the single most
confounding and befuddling event in Cleveland sports since…well…since the
Cavaliers made the FCC twitch all spring by inundating the airwaves with the
Okay, on second thought, it has been a shockingly eventful year in Cleveland
sports. But the point is that nobody saw this game coming. Nobody. If you had
asked me on Sunday at noon to write down 200 potential final scores for this
game, "Cleveland 51, Cincinnati 45" would not have made it onto the slip of
paper. Even if I decided to mix in a few joke scores, I probably would have
opted for "Cleveland 4, Cincinnati 4 (tie)" or something as equally preposterous
as "Cleveland 51, Cincinnati 45."
What a mind-bender. 96 points? 1085 yards of offense? So many first downs
that the referee appeared to be doing the Tomahawk Chop? The only rational
explanation I have is that both teams were videotaping each other's defensive
signals and putting the information to good use. ("They're using their
Cover-Zero defense again! Throw deep!")
Other thoughts on the game…
* So what's the deal with Derek Anderson? Couldn't beat out Charlie Frye over
the course of several months, then he gets a start and has a 5-TD game? How is
that even possible? It would be like some chick losing the Miss Genius USA
Pageant to Miss South Carolina, but then serving as an emergency back-up speaker
at a Nobel science conference and eloquently explaining and demonstrating the
nuts & bolts of the working time machine she built in the garage while Grey's
Anatomy was in re-runs.
* The Bengals' offense was clicking on all cylinders, but the Browns' offense
out-Bengaled the Bengals' offense. A quarterback making all the throws, two
sure-handed playmaking receiving weapons, a battering ram running back running
wild, and an offensive line opening holes and keeping the QB's uniform
clean… it's the Bengals' offense, but the Browns did it better. Deep down,
isn't this secretly what you dreamed the Browns offense could be like when you
looked at a roster with Edwards, Winslow, Lewis, Steinbach, Thomas, etc?
Isn't this what you secretly dreamed it could be like if the team had a real
quarterback and a real offensive coordinator? And don't you feel giddy and
internally vindicated for your daydreams now that the Bengals let Derek Anderson
play Franchise Quarterback For A Day?
* Since when does a second-string quarterback start a game and throw for a
gazillion yards and a bunch of TDs…and the Browns WIN? Somewhere, Kelly Holcomb
heard about this game and thought "WTF?"
* Despite an exhausting pre-game tonsil hockey session with a couple members
of the Dawg Pound, Bengals blabbermouth Chad Johnson still found enough energy
to surpass 200 yards receiving on the day. On his second touchdown, he leaped
into the Dawg Pound as promised. It was then that a few fans tried to restore
some dignity by treating the tabby-striped interloper to a beer bath and bird
show. My favorite part of the whole sequence was when the Cincy players were
sniffing Johnson's jersey on the sidelines. Given the number of breathalyzers
the Bengals have failed over the last few years, you'd think they'd already know
what beer smells like. (Then again, maybe it was a friendly game of Guess the
Jersey's BAC. "That's a Chris Henry .092!"…."Naw man, it's way more than that!
It's an Odell Thurman .180!"….."Too high! It's more of a Justin Smith .152.")
* You know how a striker can have a horrible game for 89 minutes of a soccer
match, then make one brilliant play in the 90th minute to win the game and be
the hero? Okay, probably not. But as a soccer fan, that's immediately what I
thought of when Leigh Bodden made the game saving interception in the final
minute. Usually one of Chad Johnson's toughest opponents, Bodden and his mates
allowed Mr. Gold Teeth to rack up 216 yards and two touchdowns. But inside the
final minute, with the game on the line, Bodden rose to the occasion and made an
eye-popping, over-the-shoulder, double-toe-drag pick on the sideline to clinch
the game. Trust me, Barry, that soccer analogy was perfect. Stop smirking.
*I know Romeo lost another replay challenge, but at least he was right. Even
T.J. Hooschmannzahddeh (or whatever) looked stunned when the officials upheld
the TD call. And I also know I made fun of Romeo for resembling a taxidermic
moose last week. When the refs upheld the Houshmunzaddahh touchdown, Romeo
displayed some real emotion this week, even if it was comical to watch. When the
referee announced that the TD would stand as called, Romeo looked like a
contestant who accidentally picked the million dollar briefcase on "Deal or No
* Credit where credit is due. After the Charlie Frye trade, Romeo said he
told Derek Anderson to go out there against the Bengals and play like the second
half of last year's Kansas City game. When I heard that, I laughed so hard that
it appeared I was auditioning to be a panelist on an NFL pre-game show. "If only
it were that easy!" I said to myself. But then Anderson played as if it were the
second half of last year's KC game. So full credit to Romeo, who also told Jamal Lewis to "pretend you are running AGAINST the Browns instead of FOR the
* From the My Family Is Full Of Idiots Department: First, my brother bought
tickets to Sunday's Tribe game and then watched almost the entire Browns game on
the TV at the beer stand. So instead of watching the game on TV for free in his
living room, he paid a $20 cover and gulped $7 beers while watching the game on
TV on a Jacobs Field concourse. Then my dad called me at 5:00 and wanted to know
"how bad it was." He had decided to work in the yard instead of watching the
Browns "get killed", and figured it would be more fun to listen to me "rant
about the loss" than to "waste time" watching it. Re-reading those last few
sentences, I wish both of them were Asian or something, so I'd KNOW I was
adopted instead of merely wishing it were so.
As I mentioned last year, two of my best friends in Columbus are Bengals fans.
They are REAL Bengals fans, not Who-Dey-Come-Latelies. We have developed a
non-aggression pact that involves rooting for our own teams, but not rubbing it
in. And for the regular season, it's better that an Ohio team wins over a bunch
of bloody-gummed Yinzers or team-thieving Harbor Hobos.
I have come to learn how important it is to have such a pact in place. Ben
Kriegmont, an OBR reader residing in the notorious Browns hotbed of Juneau,
Alaska, told me the following harrowing tale from his college years at Ohio State:
"The drunks I lived with were four Bunghole fans and one other Clevelander,"
he wrote. "Boy, was that fun. The first Cincy-Browns game we watched
together was our last. We both invited a bunch of friends to help root for our
respective sides...and things got ugly fast. The coffee table didn't make it
through the first half, then a fight broke out. One Cincy guy got a broken arm.
I knocked the TV off the stand and out the window when someone nailed me in the
back of the head with something."
Rather than breaking bones and launching TVs out of window like rock stars,
we used cell phones to keep in touch throughout the game. My friend Rob and I
talked through much of the game, trying to make sense of it. Early in the fourth
quarter, Rob gave up. "I am going to be like you in the 58-48 game from 2004,"
he said. "I am just going to sit back and enjoy it for all the offense,
regardless of what happens." (During the Browns' 58-48 loss in Cincinnati, I
gave up at one point and announced to one and all, "I don't even give a crap who
wins this game anymore, so long as they keep scoring. I would totally buy this
game on DVD!") (Hmm….maybe they'll make a two-DVD set?)
My good buddy Flick, meanwhile, so was so flustered, he could only text. Here
are some actual text messages:
3:14pm—"I've just about had it with sports."
3:18pm—"This is a joke."
4:00pm—"To hell with these clowns."
4:44pm—"(Bleeping bleepholes.) That's damned ridiculous. I am so disgusted
right now. (Bleepholes.)"
After the game, I steered clear of my Bengal buddies. I got to bask in the
glory of the game by recounting it for my yard-working father. Then another
Cleveland friend of mine called to discuss the game, and we both laughed at how,
with the Bengals starting at their own 9 with no timeouts and 1:03 to play, we
were convinced the Browns had lost. Then he said, "Well, since the Browns
somehow pulled it out, that probably means the Tribe will get swept by Detroit
to make up for it."
So much for enjoying the Browns' improbable win. I immediately went into 2005
Pennant Race Paranoia. Happy frickin' Sunday to you too, pal. (Thankfully, it
turned out to be Theme Week in Cleveland Sports, and the theme was Kitty
Killers. By Wednesday afternoon, Cleveland Sports had moved up to #2 on PETA's
Before I go, I have one last little Columbus story to tell you. One of the
perils of living in a sports melting pot is that I have to mingle with The
Misguided every single day. I have to be on high alert at all times. Even the
most mundane of conversations can turn into a sports team sparring match.
This week, the Steeler fan who sits next to me asked me about a minor
SteelerFan: Why didn't you tell me about that?
Me: Because I'm a jerk.
SteelerFan: Well, you ARE a Browns fan, and "Browns fan" is a synonym for
Me: Congratulations. Most Steeler fans think "synonym" is something
you put on your toast.
It's these little battles that I must fight day after day after day.
Well, that's all for now. I am looking forward to this weekend, which is
another theme weekend-- Smoke Oakland. I have some Tribe tickets versus the A's,
and of course the Browns will be playing the Raiders. I trust that Romeo told
Derek Anderson, "Play like you did last week against Cincinnati", so there
should be nothing to worry about.
Until next week,
Steve Sirk, once Art Bietz's co-conspirator at the TruthCenter, has taken to
sending a weekly letter to "home base" about life as a Browns fan struggling in
the NFL mixing pot of Central Ohio. At some point in life, Sirk determined that
suffering through the nexus, dips, valleys, and various low points of being a
Cleveland sports fan within geographic proximity of Cleveland itself did not
create sufficient emotional pain. Sneeringly dismissive of even basic survival
instincts, Sirk elected to reside in Columbus, Ohio, so that he could better be
surrounded by fans of winning franchises who could mock his very existence. If
you wish to contact an individual of such clearly questionable judgment, you may
do so at email@example.com