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Cleveland Comeback Makes History

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Johnny Football couldn’t help but laugh on the sideline when the Browns fell behind 28–3 on the road at Tennessee following a 75-yard touchdown strike from Charlie Whitehurst to Justin Hunter late in the second quarter.

“Down 28–3,” said first-year Cleveland coach Mike Pettine, “I think you could term how we were playing ‘laughable.’ But I don’t know the context of (Manziel’s reaction).”

Even in a baseball cap on the sideline, the cameras are always on Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy-winning TMZ star rookie out of Texas A&M. But rarely has the spotlight shined on the Cleveland Browns since the team re-emerged as an expansion franchise in 1999.

And rarely have these Browns been on the right side of recent history, with a 77–163 record (.321 winning percentage) and only one playoff appearance over the 15 seasons from 1999-2013, not to mention seven different head coaches — including last season’s one-and-done hire Rob Chudzinski — prior to Pettine taking over this year.

But everyone associated with the Browns had reason to laugh, smile and dance — which the Dawg Pound locker room certainly did in a video that has since gone viral — following an unbelievable 29–28 come-from-behind win at Tennessee.

“I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I knew we were going to come back and win the game,” said Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer, who has a 5–2 record as a starter. “But I knew we would fight until the clock said zero.”

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The Browns’ 25-point comeback is the largest deficit ever overcome by a road team. And for the Oilers-Titans franchise, the meltdown in Music City brings back memories of the 1993 collapse of the Houston Oilers, who infamously lost a 35–3 lead to the Buffalo Bills.

“It brings you together even closer,” said Hoyer. “And just knowing that 53 guys fought their butts off to accomplish something that’s never been done in NFL history. I think it’s definitely something special.”

Hoyer completed 21-of-37 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns — highlighted by a go-ahead six-yard scoring strike to wideout Travis Benjamin with 1:09 remaining — en route to leading the Browns to their first road win since Sept. 22, 2013, at Minnesota.

Understandably, Titans first-year coach Ken Whisenhunt has taken heat following the unprecedented defeat. Specifically, critics have questioned the coach’s decision to go for it on fourth down from Tennessee’s own 42-yard-line with a 28–22 lead and 3:03 to play. Whisenhunt called for a quarterback sneak from Charlie Whitehurst, who was stuffed by Cleveland’s defense.

“Had we blocked it correctly, we would have made it,” said Whisenhunt. “We didn’t come off the ball correctly. We weren’t ready. We didn’t have a sense of urgency there.”

Instead, the Browns improved to 2–2 this year, while Hoyer posted his third two-minute game-winning drive, something even Johnny Football can’t scoff at.

But Hoyer’s postgame dance-party celebration? Now that’s funny.

“I want to go out and have fun,” said Hoyer. “You never know when it’s going to be taken away from you. To celebrate a victory with my teammates, I don’t care how goofy I look.”