Browns showing some swagger

By Nate Ulrich

Akron Beacon Journal

Jimmy Haslam exudes confidence, and the Browns are mimicking their new owner’s personality as they enter the second half of this season.

They have an unusual, almost shocking, amount of swagger for a team that started the season with a record of 0-5. But winning two of the past three games has given the Browns (2-6) a significant morale boost heading into today, when they’ll host the Baltimore Ravens (5-2) at 1 p.m.

“The record is completely different compared to how we feel as a team,” cornerback Joe Haden said. “We know that our record could be so much better - a couple plays here, a couple plays there — but we feel like we’re starting to make those, and we’re starting to get over the hump. We’re starting to just finally climb to be a team that can just go out and win consecutive games. Why not win three games in a row, four games in a row, just get on spurts and keep winning?”

The Browns know they can hang with the Ravens, as evidenced by their 23-16 loss in Week 4 when they threatened to force overtime in the waning moments at M&T Bank Stadium. Now the Browns must prove they can beat the defending AFC North champions. They’re 0-9 against the Ravens since coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco joined the franchise in 2008.

“I think if you go back and actually individually look at most of the games, it’s kind of crazy that we haven’t lost because there have been a lot of close ones,” Flacco said. “Even all the way back to my rookie year, they were beating us up there and we came back. There have been a lot of games that have come down to the wire, including the last one we played against them.”

Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden took three shots at the end zone during the final possession of that Thursday night game Sept. 27, but each attempt was thwarted. In the end, the Browns were haunted by wide receiver Greg Little’s dropped pass in the end zone with 4:38 left in the fourth quarter and Weeden’s interception that was returned 63 yards for a touchdown with 15 seconds left in the third quarter.

Still, the young team learned something about itself.

“For us to be able to go down to the wire with a team like that with a bunch of young guys, it gives us confidence,” Weeden said. “We may not talk about it, we may not bring it up, but mentally it’s got to give us confidence going forward. It’s showing we can play with anybody in this league, and I don’t think teams really take us lightly anymore. I think we’ve got guys that have really raised some eyebrows and really make you stay on your toes. You can’t just come to Cleveland or when you show up on Sunday, you can’t just fold your tent. We’re going to compete and play hard and it shows.”

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