I’ve been waiting for the Browns to have a convincing victory from beginning to end, and I think this one suffices as the Browns defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 30-7. Three wins in a row too, if you need them. Yes, the Browns started the game in a 7-0 hole after the first play from scrimmage after deferring, but that terrifying play was all the Chiefs could do all day to score. Brady Quinn, Peyton Hillis and Romeo Crennel didn’t get to exact any revenge for any various reasons they might have had, instead proving once and for all why the Browns need not regret the departures of any of the three of them.
There’s no such thing as a perfect game in the NFL and I’m sure there will be some detractors even as the Browns beat a bad team at home by more than three touchdowns. Sure, the Chiefs dropped a couple interceptions, Montario Hardesty put the ball on the ground and the Browns were far from perfect in the red zone. Those things matter so much less when the Browns win so big. It’s the benefit of the big win and the Browns deserve it to a large extent.
The defense largely played excellent, physical football. Brady Quinn was on his back a lot of the game as the Browns amassed five sacks and an interception. The hits were big and the Chiefs paid the price as Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe were both banged up and played more limited roles than I’m sure the Chiefs planned on coming into the game.
So the Browns improve to 5-8 and continue to look to be improving, albeit against a decidedly bad team. It goes into the files of Pat Shurmur, Brandon Weeden and the rest as the auditions continue for next season. It will be up to Joe Banner and Jimmy Haslam to determine if this is the real thing or fool’s gold. One thing’s for sure, no matter what they decide it beats the alternative – losing in December – by a wide, wide margin.
Now, some notes on the rest of the game…
The Browns had to feel fortunate at halftime with a 10-7 lead. A special teams TD isn’t something you really hang your hat on as something to plan on repeating in the second half. The Browns’ offense had tons of work to do as Weeden was just 8/16 for 118 yards and Trent Richardson had only 24 yards on 9 carries. Josh Gordon and Greg Little had nice numbers with 57 and 52 yards respectively, but as a unit they just seemed inconsistent and largely ineffective as they mustered only a Phil Dawson field goal while punting four times.
The Browns were gashed early by Jamaal Charles on the first play from scrimmage for 80 yards. They over-pursued the rushing lane – namely James-Michael Johnson – and Charles missed D’Qwell Jackson and T.J. Ward on his way to proverbial pay dirt. It was extremely disheartening, but the Browns responded well on defense thereafter and even knocked Charles out of the game with a rib injury when Jabaal Sheard landed on Charles after a short gain. Charles did return to the game, but he didn’t seem quite the same. After being spotted 80 yards, Charles finished with the first half with a gaudy 128 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown. For the game he had 165 yards on 18 carries.
What else is there to say about Phil Dawson? It wasn’t his most difficult kick, but on a 23 yarder Phil Dawson knocked through his 300th field goal. That wasn’t even the special teams highlight though as Travis Benjamin returned a punt 93 yards. Obviously punt return TDs don’t happen without a great team effort most times, but it’s undeniable just how much faster and elusive Benjamin looked than Cribbs has all season long. Oddly enough, even after Benjamin’s long punt return, Josh Cribbs returned punts the rest of the game.
Josh Cribbs is one of the best returners of all time and probably one of the most popular Browns of all time, but without any malice at all, you have to think it will be a tough sell for Josh Cribbs to be back as a free agent. That’s OK. We’ll reserve his spot in the team Ring of Honor just the same.