CLEVELAND — Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett entered this season with the Browns with one goal: win as many games as he could before Deshaun Watson returned from suspension. It wasn't an easy road and his time certainly didn't hold as many victories as he had hoped for—but it was a road that Brissett can be truly proud of, and one that his teammates surely are.
On Sunday, Brissett took the field for the expected last time as the Browns starting quarterback and, like the Browns' season so far, it wasn't always an easy go. After the perfectly scripted opening drive from the Browns offense, things stalled out. But the team didn't quit and with some help from the defense, Cleveland kept themselves in the game.
Brissett was able to show off his connections with Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones and David Njoku throughout the game and tried to lean on the run game with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, as well as Anthony Schwartz, to get it going. Down seven with just two minutes left in the game, the Browns needed those connections more than ever.
So after Chubb broke out for six yards and then a massive 28-yard rush that put them on Tampa Bay's 12-yard line, it was up to Brissett. A few incompletions led to a fourth down with 32 seconds left in the game—and Brissett found that connection with Njoku who stretched out and snagged Brissett's pass with one had in the end zone to tie things up and subsequently send the Browns to overtime.
“I can’t curse because I will get fined, but I said the ‘s’ word. Honestly, it was a great catch – don’t get me wrong – but I wasn’t surprised.," Brissett said after the game. "I threw it, and I thought I threw it too high and I was about to start crying (laughter). I saw him pull it down, and I was like, ‘I could have ran up and kissed him.’ Clearly I didn’t."
Brissett, with his chance to win the game in overtime after the Browns defense stopped Tom Brady and the Bucs' offense, couldn't get it done in the first possession. His second chance in overtime though was a much different story.
The Brissett-Cooper connection shined in Brissett's final drive, first with a 17-yard pass to Cooper and two plays later a deep ball to Cooper for 46 yards and the perfect field position to allow Chubb to rush in for the touchdown that sealed the overtime win.
As Brissett walked off the field, tears could be seen running down his face, complemented by a big smile. Brissett left the field and immediately found his teammate and good friend Anthony Walker Jr. for a big embrace as he departed for the locker room.
Other teammates weren't immediately able to talk with him, but they all shared a mindset throughout the game—win for Brissett. That mindset came to fruition.
For linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, there was no question that they needed to win for Brissett.
"Duh," Owusu-Koramoah laughed. "I don't care if Myles is at quarterback, we want to send him out with a win."
Jadeveon Clowney also shared how important it was for them to get the win, because of what Brissett has come to mean to everyone in the locker room.
"It felt great. Man, I love Jacoby, I think Jacoby's a hell of a teammate. One of the best teammates I've ever had," Clowney said. "He’s all about the team, all about the players, the culture of the team and you can’t ask for a better teammate than that out of anybody in the league."
That message echoed throughout the locker room, with Brissett praised for his efforts Sunday and all season. From the career year he's had through the 11 games as the Browns starter down to the small plays that held big impact, like his pancake block that helped Anthony Schwartz score in the opening drive, Brissett has given his absolute all.
So after the game, Brissett was awarded the game ball from head coach Kevin Stefanski as his teammates cheered him on.
setbacks pave the way for comebacks 📈 pic.twitter.com/AU3XjfEB2Q— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) November 27, 2022
“That was super special. I wasn’t expecting it. Like I said though, this has never been about me. It's always been about the team," Brissett said after the game. "This was our team’s opportunity to step up in a big moment, and I think we did that. I think the belief in the room, in our plan and the guys when we're out there executing, I think that belief never wavered. It's a testament to those guys on the team.”
...that weren't really goodbyes
As Brissett walks off as a winner for what's expected to be his final game as the Browns' starting quarterback, getting a win over former teammate and once mentor Tom Brady, he summed it all up in a way fitting for the moment.
“I mean this in no disrespect, but in the words of Tom Brady, that was ******* awesome. That was ******* awesome," Brissett said.
But while Deshaun Watson is slated to return and make his debut as the Browns starting quarterback next week in Houston, Brissett isn't going anywhere anytime soon. And he wants you to remember that.
“I feel like this week y’all feel like I'm about to die or something," Brissett laughed. "I still have a job to do. I’m still on the team. I'll figure that out when the time comes, but I still have to be the same person every day no matter my situation or status. I think that's what makes me me. I'm excited for [Watson] to come back. Looking forward to next week.”
Camryn Justice is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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