Oh, Browns. You were so close. You were so devastatingly close. One kick, and you sweep the hated Ravens for the first time since 2007 -- on a national stage no less. One kick, and maybe the Johnny Manziel-Josh McCown era is thankfully over, overthrown by a validated and undefeated Austin Davis. One kick, and you complete a near-miraculous fourth-quarter comeback to stay out of the AFC North cellar and give your fans something to cheer for.
Unfortunately for the Browns -- and the city of Cleveland -- that one kick was blocked, at the hands of a debuting defensive end, resulting in the most devastating loss of the season.
Topping Week 12's Top 10 "Performance Moments of the Week" presented by Bridgestone is the Ravens' miraculous Monday Night block-off touchdown.
Monday night's test between the Ravens and Browns had been originally sold as the "Johnny Football show", but when Manziel was benched due to off-the-field behavior, the game lost whatever rusting luster was left. Even ESPN was having trouble pitching its product. Expectations for the McCown vs. Matt Schaub matchup were so low that anything slightly above mediocre football would be considered a boon for fans.
What transpired at FirstEnergy Stadium was a wild back-and-forth affair between two hard-nosed division rivals, who, despite falling on hard times, played with their hair on fire on cable television. This game had everything. There was a Baltimore punt return touchdown, followed by a Cleveland pick six. The Browns lost their starting quarterback to a broken collarbone, only to see the backup -- recently signed off the streets -- tie the game late with a perfectly-thrown bomb to Travis Benjamin. To top off their run of good fortune, the Browns then picked off Schaub with nearly a minute to go and marched into field-goal territory, destined to pull off the comeback.
Of course, as mentioned above and in other installments of Browns history, it was not meant to be. Cleveland kicker Travis Coons' 51-yard attempt was blocked by Brent Urban, a Ravens defensive end who had been activated to play in his very first game just that day. Urban surged through the Browns' offensive line and stuck his right hand in the path of the ball, deflecting the pigskin toward the right sideline. Ravens safety Will Hill, who had dropped off the rush, snagged the bouncing ball and sprinted down the sideline.
The return, at first, looked improbable, what with a massive throng of Browns trailing Hill and the safety nearing the sideline's edge. But Hill shed Browns linebacker Armonty Bryant's tackle and then sped past the rest of Cleveland's heavy-set blockers, toeing the boundary all the way down the field for a game-sealing touchdown. The yet-to-be-named play -- I suggest 'Hill's Thrill' or 'The Block-Off' -- drove the Ravens' sideline into hysterics, Browns fans into depression and the NFL world into total disbelief.