It was ugly for nearly four quarters on Sunday, so close to it just being “the same old Cleveland Browns.” That was until quarterback Colt McCoy and the offense took the field for their final drive, a drive that would end on a 14-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.
On an otherwise ugly day for the offense – the defense was sensational – the drive to win the game was actually well-executed. On that drive, McCoy was nine of 13 for 75 yards, spreading the ball around to his receivers. Until then, every receiver not named Josh Cribbs was nowhere to be found. McCoy instead relied on Ben Watson throughout the day, as the tight end caught five passes for 64 yards.
No matter how ugly the rest of the game was (and boy was it ugly), it’s funny how one drive can essentially erase that. Before the Browns’ final drive, the all-too-familiar mood was settling in, the despair that has permeated in Cleveland for years. The cycle of losing appeared to be coming into view, and then, suddenly, a win took its place.
There is plenty to criticize when it comes to the Browns’ performance, and there is a lot of room for improvement, but the team currently sits at 2-1. What more could Browns fans ask for?
Here are some more notes from the Browns’ victory over the Miami Dolphins:
- Running back Montario Hardesty was the best offensive player for the Browns throughout the day, as he rushed 14 times for 67 yards to go along with three catches for 19 yards. With Peyton Hillis out because of strep throat, Hardesty made his first start in the NFL and took advantage of it. The Browns have been looking to get him carries, and Sunday’s game against the Dolphins proves that he deserves them.
- Don’t let the game-winning drive fool you, the rest of the game for the Browns offense was ugly. Colt McCoy wasn’t especially accurate, throwing behind his receivers and notably missing a wide-open Josh Cribbs on what would have been a sure touchdown early in the game.
- This defense knows how to pressure the quarterback. The Browns had another five sacks on Sunday, bringing their 2011 total to 11, good enough to lead the AFC. Players who registered sacks include Ahtyba Rubin (1.5), D’Qwell Jackson (.5), Phil Taylor (1), Jayme Mitchell (1.5), and Chris Gocong (.5).
- Cornerback Joe Haden was especially dominant for the defense, keeping Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall in check for most of the day. Haden held Marshall to four catches for 43 yards. On the other hand, former Ohio State wide receiver Brian Hartline caught four passes for 87 yards. Some blame can be placed on Sheldon Brown, but Hartline was making some incredible catches.
- The Browns’ defensive line looks flat-out great three games into the season. The pressure on quarterback Chad Henne was great, and they consistently came up with big plays that allowed the Browns to stay in the game despite their poor performance on offense.
- Colt McCoy did not have one of his best games, as he completed only 19 of 39 passes for 210 yards, throwing two touchdowns and one interception. He never entered a rhythm, except when it counted most. McCoy’s performance on the final drive is what makes a great quarterback in the NFL – no matter what happened earlier in the game, he is able to erase all that by giving his team a chance to win. With one of his best passes coming on the touchdown toss to Massaquoi, McCoy did what he needed to do for a win. It wasn’t pretty, but, as they say, a win is a win.