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Ingraham: Who'd believe a 1-14 record could bring so much Christmas joy?


And the streak continues.

For the 70th consecutive year the Browns have won at least one game in every season.

It got a little dicey this year, but a clutch 20-17 win over the sloppy San Diego Chargers on Saturday kept the streak alive and the holiday nog eggier.

With the win the Browns improved to 1-14.

There’s a sentence you don’t see every day.

“At least we got that monkey off our back,” said circus master Hue Jackson of the Browns first win since Dec. 13, 2015. Since then they were 0-17 in the regular season and 0-21 counting the preseason.

Not anymore.

“Most teams would have said, ‘Forget about it. It’s done.’ Not these guys,” Jackson said.

The Browns coach had a right to feel proud. The Browns -- are you sitting down? -- actually played a pretty good game. For the most part they played with the desperation of a team desperate for a win, and only two chances remaining to get one.

Now they’ve got one. Two games away from the infamy of an 0-16 season, the Browns improved to 1-14.

“Many teams in our situation would have shut it down,” Joe Thomas said.

“We haven’t experienced the euphoria of winning a game,” Jackson said. “Now we have that. We want to have that feeling week in and week out in our future.”

Jackson pointed out that the Browns hadn’t given out a game ball all year because they hadn’t won any games.

“Today the whole organization gets one,” he said.

Who’d have thunk it? And who won’t remember where they were in 2016 on the day the Browns improved to 1-14? There certainly was no inkling of it happening when the sun came up.

T’was the day before Christmas, and a bad way to spend it. At least that’s the way it seemed when it started.

For 0-14 Browns fans: a Christmas grieve on Christmas Eve -- a game between a visiting team going nowhere and a home team already there.

Four quarters later: 1-14!

It was a game that had everything, including the most apropos halftime entertainment ever for a game between two teams with a combined record of 6-24: two dogs catching Frisbees.

Apparently the guy spinning plates on the end of a stick couldn’t make it.

Great as it was, the game could potentially cost the Browns the first pick in next year’s draft, and there are still tons of questions surrounding the team and the questionable progress they’ve made this season in trying to get the bus turned around.

The game included the Browns’ obligatory quarterback concussion, Robert Griffin III being forced out of the game after getting hit in the head early in the fourth quarter.

For most of the game the penalty-prone Chargers played like a team wondering how soon they could get this thing over and get home so they could hit the beach.

The Chargers had nearly 100 yards in penalties, most of them coming at crucial times. The Browns were outgained by over 100 yards, but none of that mattered at crunch time, when, late in the game, the Browns blocked one potential game-tying field goal attempt and then pressured Chargers kicker Josh Lambo into missing a 45-yard field goal attempt that would have tied it on the last play of the game.

Ah yes, the last play. When 0-14 became 1-14.

“We’ve got a long way to go, but this is a heck of a Christmas present,” Jackson said.

“Everyone recognized the gravity of the situation, of us coming down the stretch trying to get a win,” Thomas said. “So it definitely felt like more than just a win. You don’t want to say it was our Super Bowl, but it was. It was our first win.”

In their second-to-last try.

“I know 1-14 is nothing to celebrate,” wide receiver Andrew Hawkins said. “But as a veteran to these guys, for Coach Hue, it feels incredible.”

When the Chargers’ game-ending field goal attempt sailed wide right, Browns players and coaches raced onto the field in celebration. There were hugs. There were high-fives. You could almost hear babies weeping.

“The emotion, the joy, the happiness in the locker room, it felt really good,” Thomas said.

Imagine if they had improved to 2-13.

Waiting in the wings, of course, is the season finale in Pittsburgh next week, which could bring one more sobering dose of reality before the Browns adjourn for the year. You are what your record says you are, and even with the euphoria of their win Saturday the Browns are still 1-14.

But that beats 0-15, and, for one day, anyway, in their last home game of the season, the Browns played well, and won a game of tackle football.

Imagine that.

“It feels great,” defensive lineman Jamie Meder said. “This is what Cleveland should feel like every week.”

Contact Jim Ingraham at 329-7135 or Follow him on Twitter @Jim_Ingraham.

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