Sunday, October 26, 2008

Browns Jack Jaguars, 23-17

If you were going to use the movie “Major League” to paraphrase the Cleveland Browns last two performances last week versus the Washington Redskins would have used the quote, “These guys ain’t too (expletive) good.” But with the way the Browns’ season has been going, is it any surprise that this week versus the Jacksonville Jaguars, “Who the (expletive) are these guys,” was more fitting as the Browns looked like a major league football team in defeating the Jaguars, 23-17, to improve to 3-4.

It was interesting to see how the game would unfold after the tumultuous week for the Browns as they dealt with the Kellen Winslow saga that unfolded after last week’s loss. Winslow ripped the team for asking him to not disclose that he had a staph infection that occurred during the Browns’ bye week and kept him out of the Week Six game versus the New York Giants.

The Browns suspended him without pay for a week for conduct detrimental to the team, saying that they were only following Winslow’s request for privacy and that he unprofessionally went out of his way to bad mouth the organization.

However, late Saturday night the Browns’ lifted the suspension, but enforced a $25,000 fine for Winslow’s comments, when it was discovered that someone in the Browns’ Public Relation Department has texted him asking to not disclose his illness. But with Winslow in San Diego and unable to practice all week, he was inactive for Sunday’s game.

On their first series, it appeared that the Browns that have been around in most of their losses this season were making another appearance. On 3rd and 1 from their own 34, Derek Anderson ran into Lawrence Vickers while handing off and Vickers was stuffed for no gain and the Browns were forced to punt.

Jacksonville faced a 3rd and 9 from their own 12 yard line on their first series on the game and an old friend reared his ugly head. Dennis Northcutt, former Brown and noted scissors-hands, converted the third down on a 13 yard catch out of the hand from David Garrard. The Jaguars converted another third down when Maurice Jones-Drew swept the right side for three yards on 3rd and 2. But the Browns’ defense stiffened and forced a Jacksonville punt.

With the ball back in their hands, the Browns offense awoke as Anderson took control and drove the team down the field. The Browns got creative as Vickers rumbled with a flat pass for 13 yards. Jamal Lewis then burst up the middle for 19 yards and Vickers followed up with a 10 yard run of his own. Anderson then hit Braylon Edwards and Steve Heiden, starting for Winslow, to put the ball on the Jaguars’ 5 yard line. On third and goal, Anderson found Donte Stallworth in the endzone for a 7-0 advantage.

Jacksonville answered on the very next series behind the legs of Garrard and the hands of Matt Jones. On a 3rd and 10 from the Jaguars’ 37, Garrard busted the pocket for a 24 yard scramble after D’Qwell Jackson whiffed on an easy sack. This after Garrard had already converted a 3rd and 2 earlier in the drive. Jones caught two passes on the drive and would end the afternoon with eight catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. That put Garrard into position to find Reggie Williams in the endzone for the tying score after a 13 play, 74 yard drive.

But the Browns would not roll over and showed some intestinal fortitude. After being stopped short on 3rd and 2 from their own 46, the Browns faced a 4th and 1. Romeo Crennel roll the dice and won, as Derek Anderson faked an hand off and rolled right and found a wide open Heiden. Heiden rumbled 51 yards down to the Jaguars’ 2 yard line when Jamal Lewis rammed the ball in for a touchdown and 14-7 Browns lead.

The Jaguars faced a 4th and 1 of their on the ensuing possession, but Shaun Rogers (9 tackles, all solo, 1 sack, one blocked FG) stuffed Greg Jones and the Browns took possession at their own 37. Anderson hit Edwards for 43 yards but the drive stalled and Cleveland had to settle for a Phil Dawson 32 yard field goal and a 17-7 halftime lead.

Garrard and the Jaguars wasted no time in the second half as they passed the ball effortlessly on the opening drive. Williams, Matt Jones and Mercedes Lewis all got in on the action as Jacksovilee drove to the Brwons’ 10 when they faced a 4th and 1. Jones-Drew took the pitch swept right and converted as he outran the Cleveland Defense. Garrard hit Jones from eight yards out on the next play to cut the margin to 17-14.

Jacksonville looked poised to tie the score at 17 when Josh Scobee trotted out to attempt a 38 yard chip shot field goal. But Rodgers busted through the line, blocked the kick and recovered the football keep the Browns lead at 3. But it was short-lived as on their next possession, Scobee connected on a 53 yard field goal to knot the game at 17.

The Browns then pounded Jamal Lewis four straight times for two first downs but faced a 3rd and 7 from their own 46 yard line. Anderson hit Syndric Steptoe on a perfectly timed crossing pattern and it was off to the races. With the help of a Braylon Edwards block, Steptoe jetted 53 yard down the sideline only to be forced out at the 1 by Reggie Nelson.

It looked as if the Browns’ lost a golden opportunity as they were unable to score a touchdown and had to settle for a 20 yard Dawson field goal and a 20-17 lead. But on the ensuing kickoff, rookie Beau Bell forced Brian Witherspoon to fumble and Josh Cribbs recovered on the Jacksonville 25. But the Browns were unable to gain a single yard on the drive. Dawson added a 42 yard field goal to push the lead to six, 23-17.

Both teams then traded three and outs before the Jaguars took over at their own 30 with 1:51 remaining with no timeouts. Garrard hit Northcutt for 12 yards but Browns’ safety Brodney Pool answered with a sack on the next play. Jacksonville converted a 4th and 3 with 27 seconds left but was pushed back 15 yards after a late hit by tackle Tony Pashos.

Matt Jones hauled it a pass in the middle of the field in Jaguars territory but broke a tackle and ran 35 yards, dragging two Cleveland defenders with him, and got out of bounds at the Browns’ 26 with 16 seconds left. Garrard misfired to Jerry Porter before lofting a pass to Matt Jones in the back, left corner of the endzone.

It bounced off his hands twice and Nick Sorenson came in to apply the hit and the ball bounced off his helmet incomplete with one second remaining. One second and one incompletion later, the Browns found themselves sitting at 3-4 with a 23-17 victory.

The Browns won for the third time in the last four games and did not commit a turnover for the third consecutive game. Add to that the fact that they only had one accepted penalty for 15 yards and held Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor to 29 and 24 yards, respectively, and there were a lot of positives to take from the game.

Jacksonville outgained the Browns, 380 to 327, and also held the ball for 35:05 to the Browns’ 24:55. The Jaguars ran 71 plays to the Browns 51, had 23 first downs to the Browns’ 15 and they converted 11-20 third downs compared to 3-12 for Cleveland. But in the end, the Browns led 23-17 on the scoreboard and that is all that matters.

The Browns head home for a stretch of four homes games in five weeks. The start that off with a rematch with the hated Baltimore Ravens (4-3), fresh off a 29-10 thumping of the hapless Oakland Raiders. It is a prime opportunity for Cleveland to make up some ground in the AFC North as the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) fell to the New York Giants today.

The Ravens beat the Browns, 28-10, in Week Three at Baltimore and the Browns would love nothing more than to even the score. But with the way this Browns season continues to unfold, who knows what to expect next Sunday on the shore of Lake Erie.

1 comment:


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