The Cleveland Fan on Facebook

The Cleveland Fan on Twitter
Browns Browns Archive The Year This Week Didn't Suck: Week 15
Written by Jonathan Knight

Jonathan Knight

browns bills 2007As we struggle to survive another season with the new-era Browns, one way we can try to get through it (besides alcohol or heavy medication) is to look back at the best individual weeks of the Browns’ new era to remember times in recent memory when this particular week didn’t suck.

For as much as we hate driving in it, shoveling it, and generally dealing with it in any way, shape or form, snow has a tendency to make things special.

We dream of white Christmases. We pray for snow days. Showing our kids how to make snowballs and snow forts is more important than imbuing them with the family history.

Maybe it’s because the initial appearance of snow reminds us of being children ourselves, before we reached the point in our lives when a fresh layer of powder simply meant more work and more pains in the ass instead of sledding and snowmen.

Remember that moment in the middle of the morning of an otherwise ordinary day in elementary school when you glanced out the window and saw big, white fluffy flakes swirling through the sky? You’d give yourself epilepsy trying to stay in your seat until recess. You’d do the exact same thing on the playground you would have done anyway, but the whole experience would become genuinely special.

Similarly, five years ago this week, a sudden burst of snow turned an otherwise ordinary Browns game into something special.

For as much foul winter weather as Cleveland gets, in recent years the Browns haven’t generally had to play in it. Since their return, you can count on one hand the number of times they’ve played a game with flurries swirling through Cleveland Browns Stadium, and those were generally only half-hearted snowstorms - the kind that are only a big deal in October.

In Week 15 of the 2007 season, they finally got to play in a real one.

Ironically, their opponent that day was from another snow-belt city, and there was actually something at stake. Both the Browns and the Buffalo Bills were fighting for a playoff spot, and with only three games to go, the loser of this contest would almost certainly be eliminated from the race.

And adding to the drama, about 90 minutes before kickoff, a cold front steamed in off the lake and began dumping torrents of snow on downtown Cleveland. Though the grounds crew worked feverishly, it couldn’t keep up, and by game time, the field was blanketed. Adding to the fun, the wind was gusting up to 40 miles per hour, creating almost zero visibility and near-blizzard conditions.

For as pretty as it was (if you were sitting in your living room watching on TV and not snarled in traffic on I-80, that is), the snow provided a little bit of trepidation for the Browns and their fans going into this crucial game. They’d built their 8-5 record on a potent passing attack, and on this day, that was clearly out the browns bills 2007 2window.

And from the first two possessions, with players slipping and sliding across the field like Baryshnikov, it was clear points were going to be at a premium. After two quick punts, the Browns pulled a surprise with a 25-yard pass to Cleveland native Joe Jurevicius, who likened the experience to playing in his backyard as a kid and seemed to be enjoying every second. His catch pushed the Browns into field-goal range - or at least what would have been field-goal range on a normal day.

But Browns fans needn’t have worried. For this was Phil Dawson, who read the wind and ignored the snow and drilled a 35-yard field goal as if it were a sunshiny September afternoon. The Browns were up 3-0, and it felt like 20-0.

The lead then felt like 40 points early in the second quarter when a bad Buffalo punt snap resulted in a safety to make it 5-0. But the real highlight of the contest occurred just before the half, when the Browns lined up for what appeared to be a foolhardy 49-yard field-goal attempt.

On a day like this? Had Romeo Crennel missed breakfast? But once again, Phil Dawson added to his legend, aiming the ball like a golfer anticipating a slice and firing a rocket that gracefully curved through the wind gales and between the uprights. And then, in the final master stroke, the ball kissed off the neck support holding up the crossbar, neatly removing a clump of snow and reminding everyone of the last time Dawson had hit that bar with a kick in Baltimore a month earlier.

browns bills 2007 3It was 8-0 and the party was on. The teams slogged through the remainder of the afternoon, with Buffalo’s offense unable to adapt. The Browns weren’t much better, completing barely a third of their passes, but were able to saddle up Jamal Lewis. Like a Clydesdale in one of those Budweiser Christmas commercials, Lewis carried the football a season-high 33 times for 163 yards, moving him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.

But still, this being the Browns, there had to be a little drama.

With less than two minutes to play, they punted back to the Bills, who took over at their own 30. As if on cue, the snow stopped and the wind died down, enabling Buffalo to put together its first real drive of the day. With the Cleveland defense now on its heels, the Bills rode their sleigh to the Cleveland 10, and Browns fans couldn’t help but imagine a score, a two-point conversion, and an overtime loss that would ruin not only the Browns‘ playoff hopes, but this unexpected snow-day party.

The defense rose to the occasion, stuffing a short pass on fourth-and-five with three seconds left, and the Browns had captured one of the most memorable victories since their return. And, as it happened, won the first 8-0 NFL game since 1929.

A loss in Cincinnati a week later spoiled the Browns‘ playoff march, but the Snow Bowl triumph over Buffalo endures as one of the most enjoyable victories since their return. Not so much for the outcome or the impact. Or even because of the the players’ and coaches’ ability to adapt in a pressure situation.

But because there was snow.  

The TCF Forums