Cleveland Browns Pull Out Ugly 17-16 Win Against the Miami Dolphins


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.

Tags: Cleveland Browns Colt McCoy Miami Dolphins Mohamed Massaquoi Montario Hardesty News

  • Natron

    We are one dirty sneak play away from being 3-0 and showing some growth every game. Ugly or not wins all go in the same column. First in the division?!?! Go Browns!

  • DW

    OK, a win is a win is a win but I just can’t get over how lost McCoy looked out there. Aside from that last drive he seems to be getting worse not better. Not only was he over-throwing and under-throwing but his repeated missed reads and somehow not seeing open receivers in front of him was really distressing. Also, there are the obvious errors when he appears to hold onto the ball too long but I also notice what appears to be footwork errors when it looks like he takes too long to set up a timing play and the receiver is already turned and expecting the ball. Almost seems like he’s still trying to think the game rather than play the game. A freighter-load of problems indeed…

  • texline42

    I was at the game, although I was pretty high up. In fact, at one point, I turned to my Sherpa guide Tang Poon, and asked his thoughts on the excessive celebration penalty. But I digress. McCoy looked much better in the second half, not just the last drive. He was victimized by some drops, but his accuracy had clearly improved after half time. Hardesty looked pretty good, but he was victimized by poor play calling. The screen late in the fourth quarter, in particular, was terrible. Miami was in a prevent defense, rushing 3. That negates a screens effect. The defense played great…. from the twenty yard line in. That’s probably because a shorter field allowed the slow linebackers to cover less ground. This will be a problem. Fujita seems slow to the ball, as does Jackson, which surprises me. Jackson has great side line to side line speed, but is either slow going forward and backward, or has trouble finding the ball carrier behind the o line. Gocong had his best game as a Brown but his cover skills are not very good. Haden is a stud and was on Brandon Marshall like ashy. Sheldon Brown, on the other hand, was used like the last condom on dollar day at Desiree’s Massage Parlor. He is just to slow. Mike Adams has had a pretty good year so far, and not just because of his interception to seal the game. He has been consistent in coverage and in run support. This team is improving and it shows. There is still plenty of work to be done, but at least I am feeling positive about their progress. It has been a long time since I could say that.

  • dawgpounddaily

    @texline42 I like the way you ended that. You’re right on a lot of those points – for most of the game, the offense was straight bad. Poor play-calling was a factory, but it mostly had to do with McCoy’s own issues. He straightened himself out after the half and that is what a good quarterback has to do. Not to mention lead his team on a game-winning drive. With the way the defensive line and secondary has been playing, it’s safe to say that linebacker will be the next position addressed in the draft. It’s not so much that Jackson and Fujita are slow, it’s just that there isn’t much depth behind them.