Do you know how bad the Browns’ offense was today? The Dolphins turned the ball over three times and the Browns still needed to kick a short field goal to win the game 13-10 as time expired. If Mike Adams didn’t return his interception all the way to the Miami two yard-line, there is no telling how long the game would have taken to complete with potential overtime. In the end, the Browns took a truckload of lemons and somehow found a way to make some kind of consumable beverage that we fans could choke down at the end of this Sunday.
I don’t want the offensive stink-fest to overshadow an impressive day of defense. There were still a couple of lapses in the tackling department, especially on screens, but it can’t overshadow the day.
Joe Haden might have officially “arrived” today (if he hadn’t already.) Haden seemingly was in on every single play. He defended passes. He made a great wrapping tackle on Ronnie Brown, who had his eyes on the open field in front of him. Haden even intercepted another pass (5th this season) making a nice catch-up play on an underthrown Chad Henne ball. Yes, Haden looked beaten and a better throw is probably completed, but Joe Haden showed incredible closing speed in recovering to make the interception. Put him toward the top of the list of things for Browns fans to be excited about this year along with Peyton Hillis and the early signs shown by Colt McCoy.
Other than Haden, David Bowens almost had another pick six and he tipped the ball that Mike Adams returned to the two yard line for the game winning field goal. Not bad for an old guy. Also, give Shaun Rogers big kudos for his game. Rogers disrupted the pocket all game long. He sacked the QB and also tackled him by the shoestrings for a short gain that looked like it could have been bad for the Browns.
Jake Delhomme was nearly the goat, but thankfully we don’t have to talk about that storyline as his easy interception was dropped on 3rd and 10 from the Browns’ own 31 yard-line. The Browns used a conservative plan, held onto the ball, and played a game of field position. I know it was ugly and a lot of you still hate Brian Daboll, but credit where it is due. Daboll and company saw something from the first half over the middle and had Ben Watson and Jake Delhomme work it. That was all they needed. That opened things up just enough for Hillis and even Mohamed Massaquoi who had two long catches. On the 2nd and 3rd drives of the third quarter, Ben Watson caught five passes for 65 yards and a touchdown while helping set up Phil Dawson’s missed 47-yard field goal.
In the end, the Browns hung in there and found a way to beat a superior opponent who was still thinking about sniffing a wild card playoff spot. A week after looking lethargic and lucking into a win over the Carolina Panthers, the Browns played a very smart football game. They played within themselves and trusted their punter Reggie Hodges and their defense.
This style of football reminds me of Mike Fratello’s Cavs teams that played a slow-down style to make the playoffs and lose early every year. We all know that it isn’t sustainable in the long run. It would be nice to have the superior team, outplay opponents and outscore them by multiple scores more weeks than not. Still, as the Browns look to close the talent gap on their roster this off-season, these types of wins should pay dividends in the culture of the team going forward.
There were whispers a week ago that maybe the Browns were starting to be known as a team that plays up or down to their opponent. We will have an opportunity to find out next week as the Browns travel to Buffalo to face a woeful 2-10 Bills team that dropped one on the road to the Vikings 38-14.