Brown, in the other locker room, did some interviews. He was a thoughtful conversationalist, a spokesman for the Browns' disappointment. The Cleveland angle was, How did we let this one get away? If we can't beat these guys, whom can we beat? Brown said all the right things about how the next few weeks would be a test of character, how everyone had to draw together or the group would fall apart.
He had showered and dressed. The locker room was pretty empty, most players having escaped in a hurry. He was wearing an outfit that looked like pajamas, except it was made from the same blue pinstriped wool as a businessman's suit. He looked like a record company executive. Or maybe someone important in Hollywood. "What about Copeland and you?" he was asked. "How did that come out?"
"One-on-one?" Brown said. "I think I did good. I can't say I won, because when your team loses, everybody loses, but I think I did good."
"Copeland talked about that third-down play, the stop on that final drive."
"He thought he did that?" Brown rolled his eyes. He had a different opinion.
That might be the final beauty of this anonymous matchup. Who won or lost the individual game within the game often depends on whom you ask. There are times when one lineman destroys another, when the defensive player is in the backfield the entire day or when the offensive lineman buries the man in front of him. This was not the case here.
Copeland had his two tackles, one of them the sack on the play in which Brown blocked someone else. There was no other real statistic. Who really won? Who really lost? Who knows? The only permanent score is kept in the two men's heads, separate subjective judgments filed next to the memories and grudges from the other meetings. The last time mostly is fodder for the next time.
"I'll try to hurt him," Brown says.
"I want to bring some pain," Copeland says.
On Sunday, Dec. 12, the two men will meet again, in Cincinnati. The game again will mean nothing. The Bengals are 2-10 after last week's victory over Pittsburgh. The Browns have the same record, with last-minute wins over the New Orleans Saints and the Steelers.