Browns seek to maintain post-1999 perfection in New Orleans

BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns ended a losing streak in Sunday's opener.

They can start a winning streak in Game 2 in New Orleans against the Saints.

These may be baby steps, but such is life with a team coming off a winless season, two seasons with one win combined, and a season-opening tie with the Steelers.

Sunday, the Browns will play in one of the rare places in the NFL where they have had success.

ESPN Stats & Information points out that since 1999, the Browns have won three times in three games in New Orleans. That may not seem relevant given the last win in the Superdome was eight years ago. But when a team has gone 3-44 in the past 47 games, it does matter that its next game is in a place it has gone 3-0.

Since 1999, the Browns' overall road record is 37-115 (.243).

That shouldn't be surprising because the Browns have not been a good team since 1999. They've had just two seasons with winning records and won only 29 percent of their games (88-216-1).

But their record in New Orleans is better than it is on the road against any other team.

Then again, it's not exactly cause for a parade.

The Browns have winning road records since 1999 against two teams -- the Saints (3-0) and Falcons (2-0). They are .500 against the Vikings (1-1), the Jets (2-2), the Raiders (3-3) and the 49ers (1-1).

They have a losing record against the other 25 teams. And they have yet to get a road win over 13 teams: the Cardinals, Panthers, Bears, Cowboys, Broncos, Lions, Chargers (L.A. and San Diego), Patriots, Giants, Eagles, Seahawks, Bucs and Washington.

So a 3-0 record in New Orleans should give reason to believe.

Each of the three wins had its intrigue.

The first came in 1999, when the winless Browns (0-6) used a Hail Mary from Tim Couch to Kevin Johnson to get their first win of the expansion era.

In 2002, Couch threw for 182 yards, William Green ran for 114 and Dennis Northcutt scored on a 36-yard end-around in a win that helped the Browns turn a 4-6 start into a 9-7 finish and the team's only playoff appearance since 1999.

In 2010, punter Reggie Hodges ran for 68 yards on a fake to outgain the entire Saints team. And linebacker David Bowens returned two interceptions of Drew Brees for touchdowns. Brees threw four interceptions in the loss; he hasn't thrown that many in a home game since.

That was the only time Brees faced the Browns at home for the Saints (Billy Joe Tolliver started in 1999; Aaron Brooks in 2002), but Brees has faced and beaten the Browns four times -- twice when he played for San Diego and twice when he played for the Saints. The wins all came in Cleveland.

In the 2010 loss in New Orleans, he completed 37-of-56 passes for 356 yards, with 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He also was sacked three times.

His career rating against the Browns: 73.3.

Like the Browns, the Saints are coming off a tough season opener as they lost 48-40 to the Bucs, a game in which they were a 10-point favorite. It was the first time since Week 8 in 2011 that Brees lost a game when the Saints were a double-digit favorite.

New Orleans is favored by 8½ on Sunday.