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Monday Morning Pleighbook: The Browns validated our optimism with a tie

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Ryan Fitzpatrick torched the Saints, Denzel Ward has arrived, and many players were dripping sauce in Week 1’s Monday Morning Pleighbook.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Hi, and welcome to the Monday Morning Pleighbook. You knew this space last year as our Things We Loved, and this will largely still be that. It’ll be the good, the funny, and the stupid from across the NFL from my eyes. Let’s have a good season together, y’all. Please clap.

We came into the NFL season not sure how to label the Browns, but that has more to do with them being The Browns than anything else. We could all agree that they’ve got some great young pieces in guys like Myles Garrett, Emmanuel Ogbah, and eventually Baker Mayfield. They added Jarvis Landry, brought in Tyrod Taylor to let Mayfield grow, and have gotten back a rejuvenated Josh Gordon.

But all of those positives were met with skepticism, because they’re still the Browns — a team that always finds a way to lose. They came into Sunday’s game against the Steelers with a 1-31 record under Hue Jackson the past two years, this time with a pinch of hope.

For the Browns, there’s never been a better time to play the Steelers. Le’Veon Bell is holding out for more bread, and some his teammates are mad at him.

The bright spots the Browns had coming into the season made plays on Sunday, too. Garrett finally got his sack of Ben Roethlisberger early on, then stayed on the QB all day:

And Gordon came up with a huge play to tie the game:

Turns out Gordon wasn’t actually supposed to start the game. According to Cleveland.com’s Doug Lesmerises, Jackson told the media that a personnel grouping led to Gordon starting. What a wonderful mistake.

Anywho, it ended up being a good thing, because it got the game into overtime (only after Taylor threw an interception at the end of regulation). Much like you’d expect in a Browns game, the overtime period was stupid.

Both teams traded off a bunch of nothing to start the period, and the Steelers had a chance at the win with a 42-yard Chris Boswell field goal that ended up being no-good. A good chance for the Browns, right? Wrong af. They used only 14 SECONDS OF GAME TIME. 14. ONE-FOUR.

The Steelers got the ball back, and the Browns did A Good — they forced a Ben Roethlisberger fumble well inside Steelers territory with less than a minute to go.

But you know how this goes. The Browns had a nice return nullified by a block in the back, and then they missed the field goal. Browns, what say you?

I could see that. All things considered, though, a tie is literally an improvement from last year. And the Steelers are one of the best teams in the AFC! So it’s not all bad.

The Browns had a +5 turnover margin. +5! Teams have been ridiculously good with that turnover margin, except the Browns:

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

The Browns are back to doing Browns shit (though, they genuinely seem better). Welcome back to football, y’all.

Let’s take a look at what else we’ve got from Week 1.

FITZ-F***ING-MAGIC

I, and probably just about everybody else in the world — Bucs fans included (don’t lie) — thought the Saints were going to smack Tampa Bay. The Saints returned the majority of a talented roster that looked great in 2017, and so did the Bucs, who didn’t look great.

On top of that, Ryan Fitzpatrick was starting in place of the suspended Jameis Winston. Out of nowhere, he carved the Saints like a pumpkin, and it’s only September. It wasn’t just through the air, either. Fitzy got himself a rushing touchdown early in the game:

In case you’re wondering — yes — that’s the same Marcus Williams who missed the tackle on Stefon Diggs to give us the most exciting finish to a game in NFL history. It’s been a tough nine months for that guy.

Fitzpatrick finished 21-of-28 passing for 417 yards and four touchdowns, along with 36 yards on the ground and his rushing score.

Intermission:

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Within the Fitzmagic came some low moments for good defensive players, particularly Marshon Lattimore. He is already one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, but he had a low moment on Sunday.

Let’s take a look:

That was like seeing a car crash coming before it actually happens. Let’s get a still of that moment:

lmaooooo shit!!!11

Oof, yeah. Not great! Lattimore will be fine, he’s undoubtedly one of the best DBs in the NFL. But he ate that fine Mercedes-Benz Superdome turf on Sunday — rubber bits and all.

We’ll see how far the Bucs can ride the Fitzmagic this season.

[whispers]

It probably won’t be far!

WIDE-ASS OPEN

Bruce Arians was built for this analyst job:

He even got an RPO mention in there, which is something we’re talking about regardless of whether or not it’s a thing. Talk about covering your bases.

Don’t sleep on Denzel Ward

On Sunday, Ward showed showed why he was the fourth overall pick, and why you need to pay attention to him. He picked off Roethlisberger twice.

His first was a beautiful diving play:

The second came off of a tipped pass, in which he returned for 26 yards.

Of course, Antonio Brown reminded him that he was still a rookie, and that he was Antonio Brown, the best receiver in the NFL.

Regardless, that’s a hell of a way to start your career as an NFL cornerback, in a world where the rules are largely against you in defending wideouts.

Let’s talk about James Conner’s hair

The Pittsburgh Steelers lead the league in Don’t Give A Fuck haircuts — and that’s a wonderful thing.

Antonio Brown has been rocking the most unique fade with Something Going On In The Byke for a while now, and that’s dope. But James Conner has also joined the wave, and he, too, has Something Going On In The Byke:

It really doesn’t matter how you feel about this. The fact that Conner’s barber was able to get these fades off in such a fashion is a work of art. And if you’re getting your haircut at a dumpster establishment like Great Clips or Sport Clips or Hair Cuttery or any other Easy Mac Ass Haircut Place, your opinion doesn’t count.

Conner had a costly fumble late, but he also had 192 yards from scrimmage and his first two NFL touchdowns. When you do that, you can cut your hair as you damn well please.

POPPIN’ FLAVORS AND DRIPPIN’ SAUCE

I’m not sure if it’s because New York Fashion Week started this weekend or what, but we had some great ‘fits that got off this NFL Sunday.

Let’s start with our trash-talking overlord Jalen Ramsey:

Ramsey talks a big game, and dresses the part too.

Let’s take a look at Tie-ROD Taylor, who was rocking a double breasted suit and a hat, along with some AirPods (always a nice accessory in the year 2018):

And it wouldn’t be a fashion show without Cam Newton, who came in on some fresh pajamas:

There’s not much I need to say here. Stunt, y’all.

Whoever runs the Twitter Moments has clearly never watched Nathan Peterman play football

If you took a moment to open the Twitter app on your phone Sunday, you probably saw this:

Literally — and I mean quite literally — the only way you could “spoil” the Nathan Peterman Experience, is if you let that guy throw a touchdown pass on you.

Need I remind you all of Peterman’s classic Butt Cheeks (it stunk) NFL debut? I will, because it’s just as funny today as it was when it happened.

Firstly, it came in the middle of a playoff chase. He proceeded to throw five interceptions on 14 pass attempts in a single half. His passer rating was 17.9. Had he thrown all 14 of his passes into the ground, his passer rating would have been 39.6. That, is the Nathan Peterman experience.

So the Ravens didn’t ruin shit, Twitter. Mind ya bidnis.

Let’s take a look at Sebastian Janikowski a.k.a Sebastian THICCowski

Look at this plump, doughy boy:

He can kick, so I mean, what can you say, right? Well, I guess you could say he looks like Jared Lorenzen, but that’s about it.

The Seahawks got a legend. Good for them!

The Colts are clearly playing squads on Fortnite

We all assumed that Fortnite celebrations would be coming to the NFL this season. Through Week 1, the Colts brought the best one, as they revived Eric Ebron, and then hit the shoot dance (or “Hype” as it’s called in the game) with him afterward:

The Colts ultimately lost the game 34-23, but that team chemistry is on 100 with the Fortnite celebration. Plus, they’ve got a lot of ground to make up since Andrew Luck hasn’t started a game since the Civil War, or something like that.

The Chiefs were “on the road” this week in Los Angeles

I’m just gonna let this photo speak for itself.

RETURNNNNN OF THE MACK

The Raiders didn’t have to play their first game of the season to regret trading Khalil Mack. First, he forced a fumble on DeShone Kizer, taking the ball away like it was candy from a child:

NBC didn’t let us down going into the commercial break. Play the hits:

Shortly after, Mack was able to get a pick-six on Kizer. It gave the Bears a 17-0 lead going into halftime, something nobody saw coming.

I know the Raiders got a bunch of picks out of that trade, but the odds that any of them turn out to be like Mack are low. That’s the most Chicago Bears Player the Bears have gotten in a while. He’s a defensive monster, and could be placed on any of the glorified teams in their history. Any old person who says otherwise is just being hard headed.

RETURNNNNN OF THE PACK

Aaron Rodgers’ first-half status:

Aaron Rodgers’ second-half status:

All told: 20-for-30, 286 yards, three scores, no picks, and one comeback from a 20-3 deficit after getting carted off in the second quarter. That’s a memorable night — even for him.

Some people try to refer to him as A-Rod, like the baseball player. But that wouldn’t be appropriate. It’s more like A-God.

OTHER THINGS FROM WEEK 1 IN THE NFL

Go Seattle Storm.