Reporting Daryl Ruiter
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns paid tribute to the greatest running back of all time Thursday night.
Hall of Famer Jim Brown was honored at halftime and officially inducted into the team’s ring of honor established in Sept. 2010.
A dispute with former team president Mike Holmgren caused Brown to boycott the original ceremony to unveil the ring of honor. Brown’s name was ceremoniously unveiled again.
Brown returned to the franchise in May when he was re-hired as a special adviser.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson also issued a proclamation commemorating the day as “Jim Brown Day.”
After the 37-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills on national TV, head coach Rob Chudzinski presented Brown with a game ball.
Happy Returns – Browns receiver Travis Benjamin provided the spark to get the Browns going Thursday night.
“He’s a real weapon back there and he showed it tonight,” Chudzinski said. “It was a huge, huge play and a great run. He broke multiple tackles and obviously you saw his speed. He’s an electrifying player and he did that tonight.”
His 53-yard return set up a field goal to get the Browns on the scoreboard before he left the Bills’ punt coverage team falling over themselves on a 79-yard return for a TD to give the Browns their first lead at 17-10 late in the second quarter.
“First time I let him push me out of bounds so I came to the sidelines thinking I can’t let the punter tackle me,” Benjamin said. “So, the second time when I came to him I just cut back inside and I knew he missed the tackle.”
Benjamin racked up 179 punt return yards to shatter Eric Metcalf’s record of 166 set on Oct. 24, 1993, against Pittsburgh.
“It means a lot,” Benjamin said. “Knowing that I can come in and give my team great field position and make that play; be a game changer and put my team on top.”
Turning The Tide – Although it might be temporary until Sunday but the Browns are atop the AFC North in first place.
They lost their starting quarterback, fell behind 10-0, rallied for a 17-10 lead, fell behind 24-17 before rolling off the final 13 points of the night.
Normally the Browns lose games like that but not this time.
“This is a different team, it’s a different feel, it’s a different vibe,” cornerback Joe Haden said. “We feel like that at any time we can come back from behind. We feel like if everybody keeps slowing down and doing their jobs – offense puts the ball in the end zone and defense gets the ball back to the offense – we feel like that’s the way it works.”
Thursday night’s 37-24 win moved the Browns above . 500 for the first time since the 2011 season when they started 2-1 and for just the 6th time since 1999.
The Browns also have their fifth 3-game win streak since 1999, and first since weeks 12-14 in 2012.
“It’s a great turnaround for this city,” receiver Josh Gordon said. “It’s exactly what we’ve been striving for, for people to just notice us as something else. We’ve been wanting to turn that page in this city and I think that’s exactly what we’re working for.”
The last time the Browns started a season 3-2 was 2001 and they finished the season 7-9.
Beaten To The Punch – Cornerback Joe Haden has never had a pick-6 in his career since converting to corner at Florida 7 years ago.
Neither did safety T.J. Ward – before Thursday night. He beat Haden to the punch.
“That’s my best friend on the team,” Haden said. “I kinda felt like I got it so it was all good. I almost passed out I was celebrating so hard for him.”
Ward picked off rookie Jeff Tuel’s pass and returned it 44 yards for a TD with 1:44 left to end any comeback hopes for the Bills.
Ward doesn’t plan on rubbing it in.
“Joe, that’s my guy,” Ward said. “He’s probably going to get the next one. He was just as happy for me as I am for myself.”
Brownout – The Browns dressed in all brown for Thursday night’s national TV audience in honor of Jim Brown.
It marked the first time the team wore all brown for a regular season game.
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