After 17 years, the streak has been broken.
The Cleveland Browns finally won a season opener after beating the Carolina Panthers 26-24 on Sunday.
The #Browns have won their season opener for the first time since I was 11 years old.
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) September 11, 2022
The last time the Browns won a season opener was in 2004 when the team beat the Ravens 20-3.
While the win took a team effort, it was a handful of players stood out during the team’s victory.
It was players who stepped up and showed fans that this is a new era of Cleveland Browns football.
An era where the team can win important games and break historically bad streaks.
1. K Cade York
With Cade York’s game-winning kick on Sunday, it feels like the Browns have finally found a kicker.
ROOKIE KICKER CADE YORK GIVES THE BROWNS THE W FROM 58 YARDS OUT 🔥
— Overtime (@overtime) September 11, 2022
There was a lot of hesitancy by fans to believe York was really going to be the answer this season, even with him being drafted in the 4th round of this year’s draft.
Sure, he had a lot of hype on social media, making monstrous kicks in training camp.
But fans remember similar hype with kickers the Browns have drafted in the past, like with Zane Gonzalez or Austin Seibert.
But with York’s performance so far and his game-winning kick, the hype finally feels real.
If the team had decided to roll with another subpar kicker this season instead of drafting York, the Browns would have likely lost another season opener.
2. RB Kareem Hunt
There were a lot of questions surrounding Kareem Hunt this off-season.
Is he going to look the same after being injured most of last season?
Do the Browns really need him with younger running backs starting to step up?
Will the Browns accommodate his trade quest?
With Hunt’s elite performance on Sunday, it seems like those questions may be answered.
After missing a lot of last season and asking for a trade this offseason, Kareem Hunt scored two TDs in the opener for the Browns… Time to extend him? Photo: Joshua Gunter, clevelanddotcom pic.twitter.com/AAqwgdmB5r
— clevelanddotcom (@clevelanddotcom) September 12, 2022
He is back and looking better than ever.
He is an integral part of the Browns’ offense.
And it doesn’t look like he is going anywhere but the endzone.
He racked up 70 total yards and 2 total touchdowns and helped the team secure the win.
Kareem Hunt finds the endzone for a second time 😤
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) September 11, 2022
He was also on the field at the same time as Nick Chubb during a few plays on Sunday, teasing a new dynamic this season for the Browns’ elite running back duo.
3. WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
With how quiet he was in the off-season, fans were ready to see some fireworks from Amari Cooper in the season opener.
But apart from 3 catches for 17 yards and drawing a few key penalties, Cooper continued to have a quiet presence.
Amari Cooper routed this dude up sooooooo bad… pic.twitter.com/5gOzLorc17
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) September 11, 2022
Instead, it was the Browns’ 3rd-year WR that made some noise.
Donovan Peoples-Jones made 6 catches for 60 yards against the Panthers.
While that is not the most explosive stat line, looking at the catches a bit closer reveals why Peoples-Jones had a big day.
Each catch was contested, consistent and key for the team winning that game.
Donovan Peoples-Jones has been spectacular today – 6 catches for 60 yards and every one with a defender hanging on him #Browns
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) September 11, 2022
With how soft and steady his hands looked, it seems like he could move the WR safety valve role that Jarvis Landry held on the Browns for years.
It’s an exciting development for Peoples-Jones, especially considering he was 6th round pick a few years ago.
Hopefully, he and his teammates can continue to step up when the Browns face the New York Jets in week 2.