Yesterday, the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers played to a 21-21 tie. It’s noteworthy, not because ties in the NFL are as rare as hen’s teeth, but because the Browns somehow didn’t find a way to lose.
That means that, for the first time in 17 games stretching back to the 2016 season, the Browns didn’t end the game by chalking another one up in the loss column. It also means that, for the first time in the collective memories of every member of Browns fandom, the Browns won’t be starting the season 0-1. (For the record, the Browns had lost 13 straight season openers before yesterday.) And, as anyone who watched the game yesterday saw, the TV commentators repeatedly listed, with an air of wondrous amazement, other ongoing records for futility that the Browns have been setting — like the fact that it has been more than 600 days since the Browns won on a Sunday. Because we’re talking about a tie game, the non-winning streaks continue, but at least the losing streaks have been snapped.
It was a sloppy, poorly played game that occurred in a rainstorm. The Browns had a game-winning field goal blocked, were repeatedly penalized at key moments, at times looked like they couldn’t block the Little Sisters of the Poor, and failed to take full advantage of six turnovers by the Steelers — and yet, still, they didn’t lose. It’s not exactly progress, but at least it’s not more of the same steady diet of outright failure.
They say that a tie is like kissing your sister. For Browns fans, a kiss — any kiss — is preferable to the normal punch to the face when autumn Sundays roll around.