The Cleveland Browns knew they had a team that could contend since the offseason. Despite what HBO edited and placed in front of millions of people on the show, Hard Knocks, head coach Hue Jackson knew he had something special. The preseason was just a warmup to what was to come once the final score really mattered.
All it took was convincing the rest of the NFL they meant business. First on the list, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The game against the Steelers was more than just the Browns meeting their division rival. The Browns needed to leave the field with a victory or else. When a team finishes a year 0-16, it tends to leave a nasty taste in its collective mouth and a black eye over the organization.
However, after several key offseason moves, this was the year of redemption.
Despite the tie score, the Browns won a moral victory in the 21-21 season opener. Although moral victories won’t get you into the playoffs, the rest of the league, and especially the Steelers know, they are not in this division alone anymore. With Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell holding out, no one still gave Cleveland a legit shot to take this game. And why should they? The Browns won just one game in the last two years, while the Steelers won 24 games in that same span.
The Browns fought, the defense played one heck of a game, and the offense showed life. This was just the beginning for the new-look Browns. There is no reason for them to hold their heads low or to make excuses, what’s done is done and you move on to the next week. Just keep that score stored away until the next time the two teams meet.
Here are three takeaways from the Browns tie against the Steelers.
Next Page: The Defense