There are times throughout many Cleveland Browns seasons since 1999 that make fans say “you can’t even write that kind of script in Hollywood”. As Sunday’s game rolled along, that statement could be said time and time again. First, it was the Browns not being able to score a touchdown on eight straight plays inside the two-yard line, seven of which were on the one-yard line. Then, it was only notching three points after having 13 plays inside the 10-yard line in the first half, ones that were 14- and 13-play drives, respectively. Then, last but certainly not least, it was Bills quarterback Josh Allen fumbling the ball forward on a play where instead of it being fourth down and Buffalo most likely kicking a field goal, turned into the Bills scoring a touchdown after the ball was recovered by Buffalo for a first down and taking the lead with less than six minutes remaining in the game. Keep in mind, if the fumble would have occurred with less than two minutes remaining, it would have been spotted where the fumble occurred, instead of the Bills being able to advance the ball for a first down.
Only in Cleveland. The Browns will always be the Browns. Browns gon’ Browns.
Those were the types of comments being made by Browns fans after that last Bills touchdown because truly, it’s something that only happens to the Browns.
Much like the Browns had been in search of a win at home this season, the Dawg Pound had been in search of reasons why Rashard Higgins was not only not playing throughout much of the season, but even being a healthy inactive throughout the first eight games of the season as well. After a solid 2018 campaign for the wide receiver, many expected Hollywood to make quite a leap this season, one that would make him WR3 behind Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. At the worst, he would be a security blanket for Baker Mayfield, much like he was last season. At best, he would be the team’s top receiver at times, especially considering this was a contract year and Higgins would certainly be looking for quite a payday next offseason.
With Antonio Callaway inactive for Sunday’s matchup against the Buffalo Bills, it once again led to many believing that Higgins would (finally) have a bigger role in the offense for the first time this season. Yet, the wideout was not only not being targeted but barely seeing the field. But in the most important play of the game, Higgins stepped up.
Following the Bills touchdown, Cleveland trailed by four with just over five minutes remaining and their season on the line. Although they were 2-6, there’s still a small glimmer of hope that they can make the postseason. At 2-7, it’s damn near impossible.
The Browns drove down the field and with 1:44 remaining, finally scored a touchdown inside the 10-yard line. Mayfield connected with Higgins for a seven-yard score, the wide receiver’s first and only target of the game. Even though Higgins has been searching for ways to make an impact for this team throughout much of the season so far, he made a huge play at such a critical time for the Browns, one that gave Cleveland a three-point lead and a catch that turned into the game-winning touchdown.
“Hig just needed to stay the course,” head coach Freddie Kitchens said of Higgins following the game. “I think he is getting back healthy. He has been healthy, but he is getting back to himself per se. He was there where we needed him. He came up big for us. It all comes down to being where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there and how you get there is supposed to be dictated by what they do. We need to be consistent in that, and Hig is getting more and more consistent in doing that. That helps the quarterback out, that helps the offensive line out, that helps the running back out and that helps the offense in general out when you do those kinds of things. He is doing a good job. He has been getting better every week. Some of that came to fruition today.”
Much like Freddie, Mayfield also had things to say about his receiver after Higgins made the game-winning touchdown catch.
“For him, it has been a frustrating year. Getting in there in critical moments and making plays like that can do a lot for someone’s self-confidence,” the quarterback said. “I am hoping that carries over and continues to be a solid guy for us because honestly, everybody is going to say we have (WR) Odell (Beckham Jr) and (WR) Jarvis (Landry), but we are counting on like (WR KhaDarel) Hodge, (WR Antonio) Callaway, Higgins, (WR Damion) Ratley, whoever is in there to step up and be a guy in there that we can consistently trust. Higgins did that today.
“He had not been healthy as much as he was last year. He hadn’t been in there. Just need a consistent third guy. He had not been in the whole time. I don’t miss him anymore. He caught a touchdown. He is back. Red carpet was open.”
Saturday night, Higgins had a dream that he scored a touchdown. He was so excited that he couldn’t fall back asleep. Sunday afternoon, Higgins shined brightest under those Hollywood lights. Even though he has been fighting to get any playing time, let alone targets, throughout the first half of the season, the receiver stepped up when his team needed him the most. It was a Hollywood ending, one that ended a four-game losing streak for the Browns and a touchdown that gave the Dawg Pound some hope heading into the final seven games of the season.
The red carpet is now open, Cleveland just hopes it somehow leads to eight-straight wins to close out the season.