This week as the 0-2 Browns head to Baltimore, I thought it might be time for some good karma. Granted, karma has little to do with the Browns’ 0-2 start as we have pretty easily been able to figure out exactly where the Browns have gone wrong with their self-inflicted wounds in second halves. It is time to go down memory lane and remember a game where our typical Browns found a way to overcome their own tendencies to win one.
The Browns took a 13-7 lead into halftime against the Ravens on November 18th 2007. Romeo Crennel was the Browns’ coach. Derek Anderson was the quarterback. Jamal Lewis was still in the midst of his late-career resurgence. The Browns were in Baltimore on the turf and they were playing just like the Browns we know and love. They were threatening to give up second half leads at every opportunity.
We’ll start in the third quarter with Baltimore receiving and starting their first drive from their own 25 yard line. The Browns, holding a lead of fewer than seven points, allowed plays of 16, 7, 21, and 24 yards in over four minutes to give up a touchdown to Willis McGahee with just under 11 minutes to go in the third quarter. The Browns allowed Kyle Boller, Derrick Mason and Willis McGahee to chew them up and spit them out on the first drive of the second half.
But the Browns looked like they wouldn’t be denied on this day. After pinning Baltimore deep on a Zastudil punt to the four yard line, the Browns’ defense held stout. They forced a punt out of the Baltimore end zone. It wasn’t a particularly good punt out to the Baltimore 37 and Josh Cribbs made them pay, returning it 26 yards to the Baltimore 11 yard line. Eventually Derek Anderson would punch it up the middle for one yard. These Browns when faced with adversity didn’t fold. Thanks to Josh Cribbs, they counter-punched and took a 20-14 lead.
Just when it looked like the Browns defense was going to give it right back to Baltimore, they responded with a big play. The Browns were gashed by a 26-yard passing play and an 18-yard McGahee rush. On 2nd and 8 from the Browns’ 20 they brought the heat. Sean Jones arrived as Kyle Boller tossed the ball toward the end zone. Brodney Pool caught it at the goal line with a head of steam. 100 yards later, the Browns were sitting pretty 27-14 with all the momentum.
These are the Browns though, right? They aren’t allowed to make anything easy. In the fourth quarter the Ravens hit a field goal 27-17. Browns do nothing. Ravens get a field goal 27-20. Browns go 4 and out. Ravens smash Browns for a touchdown with plays of 42 yards, 11 yards, 3 yards, and 27 yards passing for the TD. Ravens 27 Browns 27. Browns have given up 13 unanswered points. Make it 16. Ravens drive down and make a field goal with 0:31 remaining in the game.
The Ravens kick off to Josh Cribbs who returns it 39 yards to the Cleveland 43 yard line. On the day, Cribbs ended up with seven kick returns for 245 yards including a long of 50 if you need him. Derek Anderson completed a short pass for six yards to Joe Jurevicius, who got out of bounds. DA throws one to Braylon Edwards (Remember? We didn’t hate him because he went to Michigan.) in the middle of the field for 18 yards and the Browns call a timeout with three seconds left. Then the kick occurred.
As you know, the Browns eventually got the ball first in overtime. They started from their own 41 yard line. Derek Anderson drove the Browns down to the Baltimore 16 yard line thanks to Jamal Lewis and two passes totaling 30 yards to Kellen Winslow. Phil Dawson nailed the 33 yarder snatching a victory seemingly out of thin air.
For one day, the negative vibes around the Browns were seemingly gone. Instead of having a referee decide to replay a play after the next play had been run when bottle-gate ensued, replay worked to the Browns’ advantage. It wasn’t a cheap call. It was a replay used to get the call right. It gave Phil Dawson an improbable 51-yard field goal and it gave the Browns a victory and a season sweep of the Baltimore Ravens that year. Obviously this all has very little to do with the Browns game in Baltimore coming up this weekend, but it is still nice to think about it again.