The Cleveland Browns beat the Miami Dolphins, but it was a game that gave pretty much the entire Browns rooting world a heart attack. The Browns scored a go-ahead touchdown to lead 17-16 with 0:43 remaining in the game. Colt McCoy found Mohamed Massaquoi in the end zone after picking apart the Dolphins’ prevent defense for 80 yards. The subsequent Browns kickoff was 15 yards back after an excessive celebration penalty by Ben Watson and Mohamed Massaquoi for both being on the ground at the same time. The Dolphins needed to move the ball at least five yards in order to have a realistic shot at a field goal after setting up at the Cleveland Browns’ 47 after the kickoff. The Browns’ defense heroically held and Mike Adams intercepted Chad Henne on 4th and 10 to seal the victory for the Browns.
The Cleveland Browns missed Peyton Hillis mightily today. That isn’t to say that Montario Hardesty played badly, because he didn’t. Hardesty had some decent runs including a long one of 19 yards on his way to 67 yards on 14 carries. That being said, it never appeared that the Dolphins truly respected Hardesty and the Browns never established him enough to force the issue. The results seemed to be Dolphins pass rushers pinning their ears back and receivers not being able to get open in the minimal amounts of time that McCoy had to throw.
Meanwhile the Browns defense was bending in spots, but didn’t break a lot. With hefty time of possession deficits the Browns defense managed to keep away from giant plays. Chad Henne, Daniel Thomas, Reggie Bush and Brandon Marshall were somewhat productive in spots, but they weren’t able to deliver consistently as the Browns defense managed to make big plays on third down with decent frequency.
The Browns gave up one touchdown on a perfectly executed play that had the Browns defense going right as the Dolphins blocked a screen perfectly to the left. That was about halfway through the first quarter. The Browns defense only gave up three field goals from 23, 41, and 38 yards. Not bad on a day where the defense spent 37:51 of game time on the field defending the Dolphins.
The Browns lone first half offensive highlight was a great pass from McCoy to Josh Cribbs. Cribbs soared above his defender in the end zone to pick the ball out of the air and bring it in for the TD. McCoy placed it high where only Cribbs was likely to get his hands on it.
That was the problem though. Before the final drive for the Browns offense versus the Dolphins prevent, Cribbs was the only receiver on the team with a catch. He had three for 49 yards. Mohamed Massaquoi and Greg Little finished the game with five catches and 50 yards, but all those yards came against soft prevent coverage on the last drive.
The Browns will have to do better than this and I think they will. That being said, they might just want to take a look at getting Peyton Hillis locked up to a deal. The team looked pretty ugly without having the big bruiser and pass-catcher out there to keep the defense honest. Or at least more honest.
But the Browns are over 500 at 2-1 on the season. They welcome the Tennessee Titans to town next weekend.
Stay tuned to WFNY this week as we will have a lot more about the Browns defense’s great day and the offense’s difficult one.
(Top Photo – The Official Cleveland Browns Bottom Photo – @WFNYCraig)