This is why you can’t just look at the schedule at the beginning of the NFL season and count wins and losses in order to figure out how the team will do. Who would have thought after a week of concussion and injury talk that the Browns could go into New Orleans and take down the world champions in convincing fashion from wire to wire? Who would have thought the Browns would put together a conservative gameplan to protect their rookie quarterback and still find a way to get the job done? They play the games for a reason, and the Browns threw everything including the proverbial, clichéd kitchen sink at the Saints.
Let’s count up all the trick plays. Josh Cribbs throws a cross-field lateral to Eric Wright on his first punt-return attempt of the game, which Wright returns to the N.O. 19 yard line. Reggie Hodges runs a fake punt up the middle for 67 yards (see picture.) Peyton Hillis passes the ball to Colt McCoy for 13 yards and a first down. On top of that David Bowens had two interception returns for touchdowns. The Browns led the league this week in trick plays and gimmickry. But who cares? The Browns take a victory into the bye week and have created some scary game film for future opponents.
Look. Drew Brees had a bad game going all by himself even without the Browns’ forcing their will on him. Scott Fujita intercepted a horribly thrown ball. T.J. Ward dropped two easy interceptions and Abe Elam dropped one as well. The Browns defense did what they had to do in a lot of cases, but the Saints didn’t have their best game on offense either. Brees finished the game with a 65.8 passer rating while throwing 4 INTs and 2 TDs. One of those touchdowns came very late when the Browns had already pretty well iced it, so it wasn’t even as good as the final numbers look.
Credit to Rob Ryan and the Browns’ defense though. Ryan earned himself a Gatorade bath in the closing seconds of the game from his players. They kept the Saints from killing them on the long plays. They played smart, didn’t seem to over-blitz like they have been on occasion. Also, they got lucky, which I would argue any good team does multiple times per season.
It just never seems to happen for the Browns. Eric Wright appeared to be torched for another touchdown, but offsetting penalties pulled the score off the board. That would have made it 10-7 Browns early in the second quarter, but instead Scott Fujita got his interception at the Browns’ three yard line. Those are the breaks that good teams seem to get. Whether it is just luck or doing the little things to put yourself in good positions, the Browns got all the breaks on this day.
So the Browns win an unlikely one and all is right with the world heading into the bye week. The Browns took down the world champions with two defensive touchdowns by a defensive lineman, three field goals, fewer than 100 passing yards, and a whole host of trickery. You certainly can’t count on getting production this way in the NFL on a weekly basis. Then again, as Browns fans, we know that you can’t count on much of anything in the NFL anyway.