CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns have never played for a Super Bowl championship before, but several former members of the organization were on the field for Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday night.
Many former Browns walked away with a Super Bowl championship after the New England Patriots scored 31 straight points to erase a 19-point deficit and force overtime, where they completed an unlikely come-from-behind victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
Former Browns coach Bill Belichick led the charge as the Patriots’ bench boss, along with quarterback Tom Brady, who engineered the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.
“What a game,” Belichick said. “Can’t say enough about our team. We’ve got some really good coaches. I thought that our coordinators, Matt (Patricia), Josh (McDaniels) and Joe (Judge) did a tremendous job in handling the game.
“There was a lot of great situational football, adjustments, and they just kept coaching. We just kept trying to find a little crack in the armor and keep plugging away. Our team showed great mental toughness throughout the game, never really flinched.”
The Patriots trailed the Falcons, 21-3, at the intermission and 28-3 early in the second half, but something happened over the third and fourth quarters where New England found a groove and kept Atlanta from getting the game-sealing score.
“This team worked hard,” Belichick said. “They deserved to be where they were because of their 14 regular-season wins and two wins we had against Houston and Pittsburgh, two great football teams, so we were here to compete in this game.
“We earned the championship. These guys played like champions when it counted the most, in the fourth quarter and overtime. It is about this team and what this team accomplished. It isn’t about anything else. They deserve it. They earned it and they got it.”
With Sunday night’s win over the Falcons, Belichick became the first coach in NFL history to win five Super Bowl championships, besting the previous record of four from Pittsburgh’s Chuck Knoll and further moving him past other legends like Tom Landry (Dallas Cowboys), Don Shula (Baltimore Colts/Miami Dolphins), Job Gibbs (Washington) and Bill Walsh (San Francisco 49ers).
“The most important thing tonight is the team win,” Belichick said. “I am happy for our team, our players and our organization. Everybody worked so hard for this. The only reason I am here is because of what our players did, what our assistant coaches and coordinators did.
“Chuck Knoll is a tremendous coach, a tremendous legacy. I coached against Chuck in his final game. I always admired Chuck and his style. The way his teams played. It is an honor to even be mentioned in the same sentence with Chuck Knoll. Tonight is really about our team. It is not about some record or something like that. It is about what our team accomplished. They deserve to be champions.”
SHEARD PLAYS ROLE IN WIN
Former Browns second-round draft pick Jabaal Sheard signed with New England in free agency two years ago, and his believe in “The Patriot Way” proved fruitful, as he is now and forevermore a Super Bowl champion.
Earning the start when New England went with five down linemen at the start of the game, Sheard registered two tackles and combined on a sack of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on the way to the win.
MINGO ACTIVE ON SPECIAL TEAMS
Linebacker Barkevious Mingo was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, and registered 108 total tackles, including 70 solo stops and 38 assists, along with seven sacks and his lone career interception in three seasons with the Browns.
However, prior to the 2016 season, Mingo was dealt to the Patriots, with whom he played a key role on special teams throughout the season, including Super Bowl LI.
BROWNS, CLEVELAND INFLUENCE
In addition to Belichick, tight ends coach Brian Daboll served as offensive coordinator of the Browns from 2009-2010. Also, assistant special-teams coach Ray Ventrone was a defensive back for the Browns from 2009-2012.
Lastly, assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski was head football coach at Trinity High School in Garfield Heights, Ohio, from 2002-2006, and the special-teams coordinator/linebackers coach at Case Western Reserve University for six seasons before joining the Patriots’ staff.