July 28, 2014

Elyria
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Dulik: Fans finally getting to see a good team

Losing exacts a heavy toll on a football team, and on a football-crazy city. Apparently, it also leads to problems in the dairy aisle.
“When I`d go to buy groceries and we weren`t winning, I`d hear about it,” Browns wide receiver Joe Jurevicius said. “People would tell me things like, ‘The milk is over there,` just to send me to the wrong part of the store.
“It`s nice to be able to get the right directions now – and even nicer to be playing this well as a team.”
Jurevicius` next shopping trip figures to be even more pleasant than his last – he may not even have to push his own cart – after Cleveland posted a 27-17 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon.
The triumph was the Browns` fifth straight at home, making them 5-1 inside the friendly orange confines of Cleveland Browns Stadium this season.
It also guarantees the team of its first winning record on the lakefront since 1994 – two years before the wrecking ball felled Cleveland Stadium and three years before construction began on the present facility.
Talk about a long time coming.
“It`s like we`re finally doing our part after the fans have done theirs for so many years,” said linebacker Andra Davis, a veteran of five Cleveland winters.
“They`re always behind us, whether it`s 100 degrees or 10 degrees at games,” he said. “Seeing the enjoyment on their faces is a great feeling. It`s really sweet.”
The Browns` home success has been totally unexpected, seeing as they opened 2007 with an embarrassing 34-7 loss to the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers.
Nearly three months have passed since that September stinker, and Cleveland has yet to suffer a second loss in front of the Dawg Pound.
With Buffalo and San Francisco comprising the Browns` remaining home opponents, it`s not unrealistic that they will finish 7-1, which would be the best mark in franchise history.
No one in their locker room, though, is daring to dream about that just yet.
“We`re 7-4 (overall), we`re not the Patriots, and we don`t have three Super Bowl rings,” tight end Kellen Winslow cautioned. “We were 4-12 last year. We could very easily be a 4-7 team, but a couple of things have bounced our way.”
Winslow is correct on all points, except for his last one. This Cleveland team has earned every so-called break it has received through hard work and smart play.
Yes, the Browns could be 4-7, but they might be 9-2 if late field goals had split the uprights in Oakland and Pittsburgh.
Instead, they`re 7-4 and in sole possession of an AFC wild-card playoff spot with five games to go.
That should earn Jurevicius a spot in the express checkout line, if not a stack of coupons for all the milk he can drink.
“This is so much fun for all the players and it comes through in every fan, everywhere you go,” said Jurevicius, who grew up in Northeast Ohio. “It makes my decision to come back home even sweeter. No fans deserve this more than Cleveland. There is no better city for this to happen to.”
Contact Brian Dulik at 329-7135 or sports@ohio.net.