Drew Brees is in his 13th year playing for the Saints – and it’s been about that long since he’s beaten the Cleveland Browns.
Brees’ first game with New Orleans was a victory at Cleveland in 2006. The Browns have won the past two meetings in 2010 and 2014.
“Man, they’ve been tough games against these guys,” Brees recalled this week as he prepared for his latest clash with Cleveland on Sunday.
While the Saints (0-1) made the playoffs last season, they’ve opened the season with an upset loss at home to Tampa Bay. Cleveland (0-0-1) comes in with a marginally better record after its opener against Pittsburgh finished in a tie.
And Brees doesn’t want to hear about how the Browns haven’t won a game since 2016 – not after watching Cleveland’s defence produce six Steelers turnovers last weekend.
“You hate the fact they haven’t had a win for a while, because you look at their side of the ball and you’re like, ‘Man, that is a really good defence that did a lot of good things,' “ Brees said.
“Forget their record. Forget last time they had a win … Whatever they throw at us, we have to have a plan for, we have to be ready for – do all the things that equate to winning football.”
If Cleveland were to end a long losing streak in the Superdome on Sunday, it wouldn’t be the first time.
When the current incarnation of the Browns joined the NFL as an expansion team in 1999, they arrived in New Orleans winless through seven games and wound up celebrating their first victory after Tim Couch’s 56-yard heave as time expired found Kevin Johnson in the end zone. The lasting image for Saints fans was deflated then-coach Mike Ditka lying face-down on the turf.
For the Saints to avoid falling on their collective faces against Cleveland again, New Orleans’ defence likely will have to improve on the more than 500 yards it allowed to the Bucs in Week 1.
For new Browns QB Tyrod Taylor, the opportunity to play the Saints represents a shot at redemption. He struggled against the Saints last year while playing for Buffalo. He passed for only 56 yards without a touchdown and was intercepted before being removed from that game and benched the following week.
“Of course, I remember that game,” Taylor said. “It didn’t go as planned. So, definitely looking forward to competing against that group again.”