In 1994, the Browns qualified for the playoffs and were rewarded their first playoff victory against the New England Patriots under Bill Belichick, head coach of the Cleveland Browns at the time. Since then, they have not returned to the playoffs until their 2020-21 season this year. They won their first playoff in 26 years against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the week 17 matchup.
In the ‘94 season, the Browns met their defeat in the divisional round game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, 29-9. Since then, their only other playoff appearance was in 2002 and was their last appearance up until this season.
Over the last 18 years the Browns have not been able to show any true worthiness to the league. With their 2017 blowout season (0-16), and their 2018 season (7-8-1) and 2019 season (6-10), it was a surprise they had made it this far in the current season.
Without New head coach Kevin Stefanski’s help this season nor without the Browns Stellar starting lineup, there is no doubt the Browns would not have made it this far. Running back Nick Chubb with a career best record of 20 overall receptions, 1,067 total yards, 12 touchdowns, and on average 5.6 yards per attempt. Running Back Kareem Hunt with a record of six touchdowns, 841 yards, 198 rushing yards. Finally, last but not least, Quarterback Baker Mayfield with a record 62.8 percent completion rate, 3,563 yards total, and 26 touchdowns. With these stats the Browns have proven themselves worthy of being a part of the 2020-21 playoffs.
“I want to congratulate our fans– I grew up one of them,” said Browns special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer in an article for ESPN.
Priefer had filled the job at head coach for Kevin Stefanski during game 17 against the Steelers due to Stefanski being infected with COVID-19. The Browns tied a NFL playoff record for number of points in a quarter.
Students here at OHS have insight on the wild card game against the Steelers.
“Honestly it was a surprise to see them pull themselves up after the previous game against the Jets, which resulted in the Browns losing 16-23. I kind of lost hope for the Browns and Stefanski after that poorly executed game,” Jackson B. ‘21, said.
With the Browns’s final game of the season in the divisional round against Kansas City, it is still a proud moment for Browns fans due to the fight Mayfield and Stefanski put up.
“Obviously pleased with this season because with being 0-16 a couple years ago and then having a winning record this year and being pretty optimistic with the off-season made the season that more intense and unpredictable,” Keaton H. ‘22 said.
Other local Browns fans have also shown their support for our coach and the path he has made for our players this season.
“As a Northeast Ohio girl, I have been a Browns fan since birth,” Nikki Weber, Science teacher, and life-time Browns fan said.
Overall, Weber says that she could not be more pleased with the season the Browns had. Weber says that after years of turnovers to the coach staff and players, she thinks Browns fans have finally found a great coach in Stefanski and a great leader in Mayfield.
“I think we have surrounded Mayfield with talented guys that can execute at their positions,” Weber said.
All things considered, weber says that Browns fans are lucky to even have the chance at the AFC Championship game. To finish the season 12-6 and to beat the Steelers, or twice in one, this makes for a season no Browns fan will ever forget.
Though the Browns put up a good fight against the Kansas City Chiefs, fans are anticipated to see Stefanski return for another overall successful season in 2021-22. Go Browns!