If there were one thing to take from this game, it's the progression of the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns gave it everything they had for five quarters of football, but it wasn’t enough. A late Shayne Graham field goal in overtime proved to be the difference, as the Bengals outlasted the Browns – 23-20.
Although they lost a close game in overtime, Cleveland has to feel good about the way they performed today. Coming off back-to-back blowout losses on the road, this team showed tremendous heart and played with passion from start to finish.
There was no quit in this football team.
In his first game since being named the starter, Derek Anderson came in and played very well against an aggressive Bengals defense.
Anderson made several plays and rejuvenated an offense which seemed dead in the hands of Brady Quinn. There were a few questionable decisions and off-throws, but Anderson managed the game and gave the Browns a good chance to walk away with a win.
Josh Cribbs continued to prove why he’s the most explosive return man in the NFL. With every punt or defensive return, I felt the Browns had a chance to score before the offense stepped on the field.
Jerome Harrison and Mohammed Massaquoi filled in admirably for their counterparts, and the defense looked as good as it has all season.
0-4 never felt so good.
If there were a such thing as a moral victory, today would be one. There are several mistakes which need to be corrected, but anyone you get the sense the Cleveland Browns are headed in the right direction. The pieces are in place.
Cleveland seemed like a different team today. If they give this kind of effort every Sunday, Mangini will turn this thing around in a hurry.
Ten from the Gentledawg
10. Mike Furrey is a playmaker…
…And not just as a slot wide receiver. With Mike Adams moving to corner, the Browns became thin at safety and Furrey was there to fill the void. Although not targeted exclusively, Furrey broke up a key pass late in the game which helped force a punt to keep the game close. Mangini demands flexibility from all of his players. Having a player able to play offense and defense creates depth and versatility – two areas that have killed the Browns since their return to the league.
9. Defensively, the Cleveland Browns played their first complete game of the season.
Rob Ryan’s defense stepped up big-time against a very potent offense. Carson Palmer did not record a single passing yard in the second and third quarters. That is outstanding. The Browns were fundamentally sound throughout the course of the game. Tackling for the most part was outstanding. Containment in the running game was much better than we’ve seen in the first few weeks. Ryan’s schemes, particularly the stunt blitzes, created pressure on Palmer. If the defense plays like this every week, they’ll be successful.
8. Braylon Edwards was completely shut down.
I’m not sure whether it was Jonnathan Joseph or the particular gameplan created by Mike Zimmer, but the Cincinnati Bengals completely shut down Braylon Edwards. The only time Edwards’ number was called came during the 15-yard personal foul where he was flagged for retaliating against a Cincinnati defender. Based on his actions and body language, I’m beginning to believe Edwards isn’t coming back next season. You can see it in his press conferences. Edwards is simply going through the motions, and this just may be his last season as a Cleveland Brown.
7. Josh Cribbs is the most valuable player on this roster.
Any time he touches the ball, Josh Cribbs gives the Cleveland Browns a chance to score. Cribbs’ vision, strength, and agility allowed the Browns were able to keep up with Cincinnati – even when the offense stalled out. The Browns seemed to have figured out the best way to maximize Cribbs’ talent. Daboll minimized Cribbs’ contributions on offense. This allowed Josh to play exclusively on special teams where he is more dangerous.
6. Mohamed Massaquoi looked very good stepping into the secondary receiver position.
The Bengals did everything to make sure Braylon Edwards would not beat them. Someone had to step up in Edwards’ absence, and Massaquoi was the guy. Mohamed played well beyond his years today. He made a few great receptions – including hauling in the 30-year bomb that sparked the offense. On the flip side, what happened to Brian Robiskie? Although listed as active for the game, Robiskie did not contribute in the game.
5. Eric Mangini’s lineup changes were for the better.
Mangini made several changes to his defense prior to the start of today’s game. Mike Adams and Derek Anderson moved into starting roles while Brandon McDonald and Corey Williams rotated in sub packages. Mangini needed to spark this once lifeless team early in the season, and those lineup changes did just that.
4. Mike Adams had an outstanding game.
Whether it was at cornerback or on special teams, Mike Adams played well all day. The Bengals made Adams the focal point of their offensive attack early. As the game went on, Mike Adams settled in and his play was a big reason Palmer and the Bengals struggled to move the ball. Adams’ skills as a former safety showed up in run support, and if he keeps this up he’ll start again next week.
3. The “Big Dawg” made a few big plays.
If Rogers doesn’t block that kick in the fourth quarter, this game is over. Rogers also blocked a field goal early in the first quarter. Shaun Rogers single-handedly changed the complexion of this game. Romeo Crennel called Shaun Rogers the most dominant defensive lineman he’s ever coached, and today’s game was a good example of why.
2. Jerome Harrison has emerged as a feature back.
He ran hard all day. He showed good hands out of the backfield. Although he lost a fumble, Jerome Harrison showed great balance and surprising power on all 29 of his carries. With the way Harrison has carried the ball these past few weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised if he remained the feature back – even when Jamal Lewis returns.
1.Derek Anderson played very well as the Browns starting quarterback.
Derek Anderson looked like a legitimate NFL quarterback. Anderson did a great job orchestrating this offense and moving the football team. Like many players on this team, it wasn’t all perfect. DA made some questionable decisions, but he didn’t force any throws and that kept the Browns in it. The Browns have a solid foundation to build upon for next week, and that starts with Derek Anderson.