The Green & White's postseason aspirations disappeared as Baltimore K Justin Tucker knocked through a game-winning 61-yard field goal at Detroit on Monday Night Football.
But there are still two games left to be played, and while it won't do anything to vault us into the playoffs, this week's matchup against the Cleveland Browns will have some added meaning for rookie Brian Winters.
Growing up 45 minutes outside of Cleveland in Hudson, Ohio, the 320-pound guard said, "I was kind of suckered into becoming a Browns fan. That's just kind of how it worked. I didn't really have a favorite team growing up, but if there was a team that I watched, it would be the Browns."
And if there was a player that he watched, it would be seventh-year veteran T Joe Thomas.
"I was a big fan of Joe Thomas and grew up watching him," Winters said. "I always, obviously, watched the offensive line, so that was big. I liked the way he played."
The 6'6", 312-pound tackle has been both durable and reliable for the Browns, having started all 110 games since being drafted third overall in the '07 draft.
Of course, Winters only has to turn his head to the left to find another player who's accomplished that feat – T D'Brickashaw Ferguson, the leader among active NFL players in consecutive games started since Week 1 of their rookie season.
Brian Winters will not be fortunate enough to share this impressive accomplishment with his childhood team's left tackle and his current team's left tackle. A third-round pick out of Kent State, he was injured during much of training camp and ultimately missed the first two preseason games. He replaced Vladimir Ducasse as our starting left guard back in Week 5 of the regular season and has held the position ever since.
Two more games mean two more chances to prove he belongs as a starting guard in the NFL. The fact that one of those matchups happens to come against one of his favorite teams is just an added bonus.
"My friends and family are messing with me a little bit because it's pretty important going up against my hometown team," Winters said, "so it's obviously going to be awesome playing against people that I grew up watching. It's going to be fun."