The past few weeks have seen the Cleveland Browns do something they failed to do much of the first half of the 2009-10 season.....play like a professional football team. This was notably true in their most recent showdown with their division rival the Pittsburgh Steelers, a game they won 13-6.
Eight sacks, two field goals by Phil Dawson and a Chris Jennings touchdown combined with the Browns' best overall defensive performance of the year to end the Steelers' string of dominance that lasted 12 straight meetings, dating back to 2003.
Josh Cribbs had a big game that included a 55-yard punt return in the first half.
The final slap in the face to Pittsburgh came in the fourth quarter when LB Arnold Harrison, former Steeler, tackled Hines Ward to end his punt return and the game.
Pittsburgh's longtime chokehold on the Browns has often led some to question whether "rivalry" is an appropriate word for what the two teams have. Games such as Thursday's prove, in the minds of many people, that it is indeed a rivalry.
No matter how bleak the season looks from the Cleveland sideline, when the black and yellow jerseys are on the other side of the field it is always bound to be a true fight to the finish.
This win is comparable to one that came at Three Rivers Stadium in 1999 where a new incarnation of Browns were victorious for only the second time in their inaugural season.
Going back to their 38-37 loss against the Lions to the win against the Steelers, the Browns have shown that they are not a team devoid of talent or heart.
We can only hope Mangini and his coaching staff have noticed whatever has spurred the team's confidence in recent weeks. If the Browns can build on what they've been doing in the closing weeks of the 2009-10 season there may be a ray of hope for better days to come next year.