Let me be the first to say, when I ordered my tickets for the game last night, I was ecstatic. For about 30 seconds. Then, I realized that I'd be going to my first away game, in Cincinnati, on Thursday Night Football, for a divisional rival game. I suddenly was really nervous.
As the weeks progressed, I felt my confidence build (after the second Steelers game). I then had my confidence shot down (after the Jaguars game). Over the past couple weeks, while my confidence in the team's performances was stabilized somewhat, in the back of my mind I always felt like the Thursday night game could go one of two directions.
First, I thought that the game would be a back and forth battle that would see the good guys ultimately victorious. Or, what I thought I was most likely, was that the Browns would be run out of the stadium. Call me pessimistic, call me negative, whatever you may call me, that was my over-arching feeling. Was that Cleveland would get spanked. Sorry.
Thankfully, the result was the complete opposite of what I was expecting. The Browns came out and dominated in every sense of the word.
I'll save the full game review for Chris, as he does them so well. But, I did want to share some of my sights from the game.
First thing I noticed when walking towards the stadium was that there were TONS of Browns fans walking with us. It seemed like literally every other group of fans I passed were decked in Browns gear. As we walked up the road there were equally loud and combative "Who Dey's" and barking. For every Cincinnati fan we passed, it seemed like there were Browns fans behind them giving them the ole "Here we go Brownies!!"
As I previously stated, this was my first real away game I'd be attending. I understand it was the Battle for Ohio, and a big matchup at that. But, man, this was not the scene I was expecting.
Once we got to our seats, the scene was the same. We shared a row with Browns fans on both sides of our seats. The folks behind us were Browns fans from Dayton. The people in front of us Browns fans from right there in Cincinnati. Hell, three rows back were Browns fan from Lexington, where I'd come up from.
We sat in the east endzone, and I swear it was 50/50 Browns/Bengals fans. While the majority of the stadium still cheered loudly for good Bengals plays (there weren't many), our section was just as loud, if not louder for Browns' plays. It was awesome.
By the end of the third quarter, the locals had seen enough. They fled for the gates as fast as I've ever seen fans bolt for the exits. With the game in hand for the Browns, I guess that was to be expected, Cinci traffic sucks. But, that was a surreal scene as an opposing fan in the Bengals' stadium to see their home fans leaving after three quarters at the hands of the BROWNS. This ain't the same old Browns team.
Once the Bengals fans had filed out, almost the entire fourth quarter was Browns fans in the stands. About midway through the quarter with the Browns running down the clock, there were audible "BRI-AN! HOY-ER!" chants permeating throughout Paul Brown Stadium. The further along in the game, the more Browns fans pushed down towards the field.
With just a few minutes to go, Karlos Dansby could be scene waving his arms up at the Browns fans along the field, as if to say "Make some noise, we own this place." The Browns fans in our section, and fans from other sections, pushed further down until they made a ring around the stadium. There were high-fives all around. I even got a high-five from a gentlemen that gave me a (hilarious) story about how the security officer had thrown him out earlier in the first half for being, well, completely trashed. But, the guy persevered and wouldn't let the Man hold him down. He came back in to cheer his Browns to victory, and give everyone in section 152 a high-five in the process.
Ultimately, it was a perfect night. The Browns trashed the Bengals at home. The weather held up. The Cleveland fans took over the stadium. And it was just an all around damn good time.
I've put a few of the pictures I took in this article, but if anyone else was in attendance last night, post your pictures and share your stories. Go Browns!