Who: Browns at Bills.
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
Where: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, N.Y..
TV/radio: CBS WOIO Channel 19; WKBN-AM 570, WNCD-FM 93.3.
Coach Eric Mangini believes his boss is pleased with the progress the Cleveland Browns are making.
Team president Mike Holmgren told him as much on the flight home from Miami.
“It’s been positive,” Mangini said Monday of the feedback he’s received from Holmgren, approaching his one-year anniversary in Cleveland.
“We weren’t high-fiving and belly-bopping on the plane or anything, but it was a much better plane ride than some I’ve taken.”
For the moment, the turbulence has eased in Cleveland. The bumps are smoother.
Slowly, steadily, Mangini has the Browns (5-7) climbing toward .500 and legitimacy.
On Sunday, they got their second straight last-second victory, 13-10 over the Dolphins on Phil Dawson’s 23-yard field goal as time expired — a kick set up by safety Mike Adams’ interception and return with one minute left.
Last week, the Browns edged Carolina 24-23 when Panthers kicker John Kasay caromed a ball off the left stanchion on the game’s final play.
Thirty years ago with MVP Brian Sipe at quarterback, the Browns were nicknamed the “Kardiac Kids” for their knack of playing — and winning — close games. This group of Browns sends pulses racing, too.
After starting 1-5 in games decided by seven points or less, the Browns have won two straight nail-biters.
“It’s about time for us to win some games like that,” Adams said.
“Two years ago, or even last year, you can remember us losing a game like that. Fortunately, this year, it’s turning our way. So a win is a win.”
There’s no such thing as an ugly win to an NFL coach. Mangini says each one looks like Miss America.
“They’re all beautiful,” he said, “special in their own way.”
Mangini has been preaching the one-game-at-a-time mantra to his players, some of the same ones who tuned out his messages last season when they started 1-11. Getting the Browns to believe has taken time. Mangini feels his system has finally taken root.
He sees it in them matching their win total from last season with four games left. He sees it in their intensity at practice and a selfless attitude among rookies and veterans.
“It’s all that same single-mindedness,” he said. “And when you have that, you can make strides.”
Holmgren wants significant ones.
Last month, when the Browns were 2-5 at their open week, Holmgren promised he would wait until after the season to evaluate Mangini and decide whether to bring him back. At the time, Holmgren was excited about Cleveland’s competitiveness, but equally disappointed by the team’s inability to win tight games.
Mangini knows this recent stretch of success will only help his security if it continues.
“Really what I want to do is move the team forward,” he said. “I want them to be better this next week than we were the last week, and the same thing through the remainder of the season. All the other stuff will take care of itself. What I want to do is make sure I do the best job with these guys and the coaches do the best job and collectively we do the best job to improve.
“I like the way, as a group, the coaches and players have worked and fight and I’m proud of that. Now I want to see us getting rewarded with wins.”