Saturday, November 28, 2009
This just in: Browns can score... touchdowns?
Cleveland opened up with a 9 play drive lasting 3.5 minutes scoring a field goal. I mean, hell, I'd have been excited if I saw that. Field goal range for the Browns. INSTANT WIN! After the ensuing kickoff, I then watch the defense give up a 63 yard pass to Calvin... I mean Bryant... No, I mean Kevin Smith... You know... The running back. Yeah... Luckily, Detroit only gets 3 points out of it.
A 13 yard kickoff return later and Brady Quinn proves to Derek Anderson and all of his haters that he, in fact, CAN throw the long ball, hitting Mohamed Massoquoi in stride for a 59 yard touchdown on the first play of the drive. Stunning, right? Following that, the Browns defense played like they did against the Ravens for a drive forcing a 3 and out, allowing Quinn and Co. to come back on the field. After a few small pickups, Quinn hits newly acquired wide receiver Chansi Stuckey down the field for a 40 yard touchdown. That's a total of two touchdowns in the game so far for the Browns offense who scored I believe all of 5 touchdowns in it's first 9 games of the season. I mean, this is some record setting stuff, right?!
Browns kick off giving the Lions the ball at the 32, when Eric Wright (Eazy-E) picks off a deep Stafford throw only to return it 47 yards giving Cleveland the ball at the Detroit 13 yard line. After an a Jeff Backus unnecessary roughness call, Cleveland starts at the Detroit 6. This couldn't end up being 3 touchdowns in one quarter of play.... could it? Indeed it was. After a Jamal Lewis 2 yard scamper, Quinn hits Joshua Cribbs for a 4 yard touchdown. So not only did the Browns get 3 touchdowns, but they got them through the air. We haven't had a QB throw 3 touchdowns in a game since November 11th.... of 2007, when Derek Anderson threw 3 touchdowns against the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Which ironically enough ended up having a similar outcome with the Browns defense blowing a big lead). The Browns are now leading 24-3. This is exciting stuff, right?! Well, who'd of thunk it, that the Browns defense could fail? On the next 3 Lions drives, they score touchdowns, now making it squared at 24 for the day. The Browns drive down the field and kick a field goal with 4 minutes left in the 1st half, and go into the half up 27-24. Man. What a first half for the offense. They score over half the touchdowns that they have in the previous 9 games of the season. Brady Quinn provided sparks of life for the offense, making very nice throws, while still being the victim of a few dropped touchdown catches.
So what went right in the first half for the offense? Pretty much everything, right? The difference was that the offensive line was holding their blocks, and Quinn was making his reads. He was patient with the ball, and found his open receivers, while not forcing the ball and making accurate throws. Yes... We were playing the Lions who's defense is was 26th against the pass prior to the game (they are now dead last). But it's a spark right? Perhaps it's momentum so that this offense can continue to improve.
The second half wasn't nearly as fun to watch offensively as the first, but on the bright side, we only had 2 three and outs in 5 drives, which isn't bad at all, especially considering that we are used to 6-7 three and outs a game. The Browns were only able to muster up another touchdown in the 2nd half, on a 2 yard pass to newly acquired tight end "Ross" Michael Gaines. (Ross is his given birth name, and Randy Lerner has given him permission to put it on the back of his jersey. Reebok is currently buying out all 71 "Gaines jersey's, and reprinting ones to say "Ross" on the back).
Unfortunately for the Browns, the defense continued to give up points only contributing positively in the 2nd half with a sack and an interception, and a forced fumble, that Detroit recovered. Despite the Browns success with the football (34:46 to 25:14 with time of possession), the Browns defense just could not keep the Lions out of the end zone. The heartbreaking part of the game was the final 2 plays. The "last" play of the game, Matthew Stafford threw the ball into the end zone, which was intercepted to end the game. Unfortunately, Hank Poteat was literally hugging his man in the end zone, resulting in a defensive pass interference call giving Detroit the ball on the 1 yard line, as the game cannot end on a defensive penalty. On that play, C.J. Mosley hit Stafford hard, injuring Stafford's left shoulder. Because of the rule, an injured player must sit out for one play... That is of course a timeout is called. Eric Mangini called a timeout to gather his defense to instruct them on what to do in this situation. This let Stafford come back in for the last play, in which he completed a 1 yard touchdown pass to rookie Brandon Pettigrew who was virtually uncovered. With the extra point, the game was over, and the Detroit Lions won the game by a score of 38-37, most likely saying "At least we're not Cleveland" on their way to the locker rooms.
Ok. I may have made up that last part.
Regardless, the story here today was that the Browns proved that they could, in fact, score not just points, but touchdowns. The offense looked great, despite dropping a few very easy catches that would have turned into 6 points easily. This had to be a huge boost for Brady Quinn and the offense. An offense that has looked no more than anemic put up big numbers on Sunday and was a big boost for the fans, the coaches, and most importantly the players. On third downs, the Browns were 10/19, or 52% completion, which is well beyond what the NFL average is (around 42%). The Browns had an 8.8 yard per pass average as well, which is also well beyond the NFL average (around 7.8-8.0). 16 passing first downs which trumps the average of around 12-13 a game, was also a big positive for the passing game. There really wasn't much the Browns couldn't do offensively on Sunday. Overall, the offense gets an A in my book for performance. Sure you want to take the defense that you played against into account, but when your offense has been as bad as the Browns this year, you look at any positive you can. The biggest test comes the next 3 weeks as the Browns travel to Paul Brown stadium to face the much improved Cincinnati Bengals defense, and then come back home for a 2 game stretch against two teams that get to the quarterback and force turnovers in San Diego and Pittsburgh. If we can muster up 2-3 passing touchdowns in each game, I'd say that we may very well be improving.
However, the most important portion of this blog is that my other half did end up forgiving me for repeating that she was a "dirty liar", and at the end of the day, while the outcome wasn't what I wanted, we were still smiling at the fact that the Browns offense actually proved that they can score... touchdowns.