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LB In NFL: Wilson Alum Joel Bitonio Snags Historic Win With Browns

It finally happened.

On national television last Thursday night, the Cleveland Browns finally won a football game. It had been 635 days since the Browns’ last win, on Christmas Eve of 2016, and their 19-game winless streak was the second-longest in NFL history. For Wilson alum Joel Bitonio, a stud offensive lineman for Cleveland, the streak was even longer.

Because the Browns have been dreadful the last few years and because Bitonio missed the end of the 2016 season with an injury, he hadn’t been on the field for a Browns win since October 11, 2015, a 1,076-day long span.

“We needed that,” said Bitonio via text message after the game.

The Browns had come tantalizingly close to winning earlier in the season, ending in an opening-week tie with the Steelers. The 21-17 win over the Jets set off a raucous celebration in the stands as Cleveland improved to 1-1-1, their best record through three weeks in five seasons.

Bitonio got his hands on the ball in the win after a fumble fell right in front of him; showing the footwork that made him a threat in the post for Wilson’s basketball team, Bitonio scooped the ball and rumbled nine yards before being taken down.

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Monday Night Football turned into a Jackrabbit lovefest on ESPN as the Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster and the Buccaneers’ DeSean Jackson squared off. The duo entered the game as two of the top five receiving yards leaders in the league. ESPN put them on a graphic next to other notable Poly alums and shouted out the school.

Smith-Schuster was one of the stars of the Steelers’ 30-27 win as he had nine catches for 116 yards in the game, putting him at 356 yards on the year, third-best in the NFL. He’s one of only two players with 100+ receiving yards in all three games and is now just 30 yards away from the NFL’s all-time record for yards gained by a receiver before turning 22 (which he won’t do until November). He’s currently second to only Randy Moss.

Smith-Schuster’s next chance to shine will be on national television again as the Steelers host the Ravens on NBC on Sunday night.

Jackson had three catches for 57 yards in the game and is now eighth in the NFL with 275 yards.

In the Titans’ 9-6 win over the Jaguars, Jayon Brown had seven tackles, second-best on the team, while Jurrell Casey had his third sack of the season, the 42nd of his NFL career.

Kaelin Clay didn’t make the trip with the Giants due to an ankle injury, while Marcedes Lewis’ Packers lost to Washington and Jamize Olawale’s Cowboys fell to 1-2 against the Seahawks.

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Panthers alum John Ross had three catches for 16 yards in a loss to Carolina last weekend, and now has five catches for 27 yards and a score this season. Ross was targeted on two bad Andy Dalton passes that were picked off on Sunday, leading Bengals coach Marvin Lewis to say the second year player needs to “protect his quarterback” by breaking up interceptions.

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Lancers alum Matt Pryor continues to spend his rookie season learning, as he was inactive for the Eagles for the third time this season.

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Compton alum Datone Jones made his debut for the Cowboys last week in a loss; Jones missed the first two weeks with injury and had a QB pressure on Sunday, narrowly missing a chance to record a sack on Russell Wilson.

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Mike Guardabascio
Mike Guardabascio
Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for a decade, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards and is the author of the books "Football in Long Beach" and "Basketball in Long Beach."
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