What a time to be alive.

After more than 12 months of waiting, hoping and praying, Cleveland Browns fans had a reason to smile. Not in that, 'Life's so bad you can't help but laugh' kind of way, but in a genuine, 'Oh, so this is what happiness feels like' fashion.

Their favourite NFL franchise won its first game in more than a year, beating the San Diego Chargers 20-17 on Sunday (AEDT). They blocked a late field goal attempt from Chargers kicker Josh Lambo to hold on for the victory.

The team's last win came on December 13 2015, and they've gradually turned themselves into the laughing stock of the league since then. They were 0-14 this season and were looking likely to join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams in NFL history to produce an 0-16 season. Including games from last season, their winless streak stood at 17 matches.

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Before today's game they were ranked the league's 31st worst side in both offence and defence. They'd lost six games in a row by 13 or more points and had tried five different quarterbacks.

The Cleveland Browns offensive line is reflected on the helmet shad of quarterback Robert Griffin III as he prepares for the snap. Photo / AP
The Cleveland Browns offensive line is reflected on the helmet shad of quarterback Robert Griffin III as he prepares for the snap. Photo / AP

Quite simply, they were up a certain creek without a paddle. Until now.

Sure, one win doesn't cure all the ills of what's been a horrible season, but it's obviously the biggest bright spot of the past 12 hellish months. And it's Christmas, so what a way to celebrate.

Amazingly, Cleveland won despite copping nine sacks. The last time a team's quarterback was pummelled that badly and won was in 1999 when the Miami Dolphins outscored the New England Patriots.

The drought-breaking win prompted a flood of reaction on the internet.

The Browns lost quarterback Robert Griffin III in the fourth quarter when he suffered a concussion.

Philip Rivers flipped one-yard touchdown passes to Antonio Gates and Tyrell Williams but the Chargers fell to 5-10.

Cleveland's Isiah Crowell scored on an eight-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and again on a four-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that gave the Browns the lead for good.

Cody Parkey added fields goals of 49 and 27 yards to boost Cleveland's lead to 20-10 and the Browns defenders held tough at the finish.