What was that sound? Perhaps the sound of 70,000 Cleveland Browns fans simultaneously breathing a sigh of relief as they watched Seneca Wallace and the Browns offense come out in the victory formation after the two minute warning Sunday. After watching their Browns blow leads in the first three games of their 2010 season, the fans at Cleveland Browns’ Stadium were prepared for another disappointment. The Browns, however, were able to hold off a late come back attempt led by the play of Bengals receiver Terell Owens, and hold on for their first victory of the season.
This was very much a game of ebbing and flowing momentum. The Browns gave back an early 10-0 lead, before regaining momentum in the third quarter and taking a 23-10 lead. The momentum shift actually came just before halftime when Browns LB Scott Fujita blocked a field goal attempt that would have given the Bengals the lead. Wallace and the Browns offense took advantage of the prime field position and quickly moved the ball to get a field goal of their own as time expired on the first half. They carried their good play into the second half, taking the ball 64 yards on an eleven play drive that spanned nearly six minutes for a touchdown. On the ensuing Bengals possession the Browns would force and recover a fumble deep in Bengals territory, which they converted into a field goal. It was all Bengals the rest of the way getting a field goal in the 3rd quarter and a touchdown early in the 4th, it seemed like this was going to be another disappointing loss for Cleveland. The Browns defense, however, was able to do just enough to stave off defeat in this one.
The difference for the Browns defense in this game was their ability to occasionally get pressure on Bengals QB Carson Palmer. LB Matt Roth led the way with two sacks and DE Kenyon Coleman played a solid game recording one sack and two fumbles recovered. There still appears to be holes in the Browns secondary though as the Bengals were able to throw for 371 yards, highlighted by T.O.’s ten catch, 222 yard performance. This marks two weeks in a row that the Browns were unable to cover a big time receiver, interestingly both wearing jersey number 81. We’ll know something is up next week if Falcons undrafted third string tight end Michael Turner (who has no career receptions) manages to get loose on the Browns secondary.
No report on a Browns game would be complete nowadays without mentioning the hard running of Peyton Hillis, who is quickly becoming a folk hero in Cleveland. Hillis gained 102 yards on twenty-seven attemps with one touchdown Sunday, which included a crucial 24 yard scamper late in the 4th quarter to ice the game. The Browns seem to be forging an identity as a tough, physcial team which is led by the play of Hillis and the offensive line, as well as FB Lawrence Vickers. Hillis agrees that Cleveland, which he considers to be a very blue collar working man’s town, is the perfect place for his bruising style of play. Cleveland is happy to see that the tough guy attitude seems to be carrying over to the defensive side of the ball as well with hard hitting rookie safety T.J. Ward. Ward was flagged for a what could have been a crucial unnecessary roughness penalty which allowed the Bengals to get a touchdown when they would have had to settle for a field goal. Ward knows that he will have to be careful with his aggressive style of play, but insists that he will not change the type of player he is and always has been. Instead he vows to be more precise and smart about it going forward.
Was it a perfect performance? No. Was it a pretty win? No. What’s important at the end of the day the Browns got a tally mark in the win column. With a team that lacks elite talent at QB and on the defensive side of the ball, winning ugly might be the only way this team can win consistently. Learn to love it Cleveland.
About the Author
Written by Fran Berkman
Francis (Fran) Berkman is a graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY with a BS in Human Development. He is currently working towards a master's degree in journalism at Hofstra University. He lives in Massapequa, NY.