The Browns’ defense largely played pretty well. Montario Hardesty gave the Packers a very short field on the first play of the game with a fumble. Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson had Joe Haden beat badly and the ball fell harmlessly incomplete off of Nelson’s fingers. A play or two later, Haden had beautiful coverage, got his hand on the ball, and somehow Nelson and Rodgers managed to score a touchdown. Bad coverage, incompletion. Near-perfect coverage, touchdown. Those are the breaks when playing against all-NFL talents like Rodgers and Nelson.
Seemed like a very Browns-like start to the game, but the Browns and Hardesty fought back. After two first quarter field goals by all-world kicker Phil Dawson, the Browns finally put a TD drive together. It wasn’t the first quarter when Hardesty crossed the goal line , but most of the yardage occurred during the first quarter. In all Hardesty had a good day with 12 carries, 45 yards and a touchdown. It also gave the Browns a 13-7 lead which technically could be considered over the Green Bay starters.
If nothing else, the Browns faced adversity via self-inflicted turnovers and still managed to hold their own for the first quarter. Baby steps.
What else is there to say? Phil Dawson. Mr. Cleveland Brown was at it again. All by himself, Dawson gave the Browns a 9-7 halftime lead (16-7 for real) and nearly made it 12-7 Dawson, if not for a missed 54 yarder to end the half.
As for the rest, the Browns first team defense did well against the Packers and Graham Harrell at quarterback. That’s not a bragging point. That’s a relief.
Greg Little and Josh Gordon both had nice catches and some frustrating moments. Brandon Weeden was nearly picked off in one of those frustrating Josh Gordon moments. Overall though, Weeden seemed cool and calm even after taking his first big shot from a Green Bay defensive back.
We will see if Weeden comes back in the third quarter, but you have to think that Pat Shurmur will at least feel confident that the Browns’ first team was able to shrug off some of the rust, cobwebs and newness that slowed them down in their first game against the Detroit Lions.