Derek Anderson plays to perfection; Braylon Edwards joins Browns' legends; and K2 shuts down and shuts up Joey Porter.
Every week the Cleveland Browns give us a few more reasons to fall in love with them. Whether you're a long-time fan, a sucker for an underdog, an ex-pat that has discovered new reasons to love your old team, or a fan-come-lately, the Cleveland Browns have been exciting to watch over the past few weeks.
Sunday's win over the Miami Dolphins was no exception. Though it was a game that the Browns should easily have won on paper, we've dropped games to winless teams in the past. Not this time, though. Despite a defense that still struggles, we managed to eke out a win by digging in, playing smart and scoring big. And we made stops when it counted most.
The insufficiency of the Cleveland Browns offensive line has caused more than a few tirades of expletives among even the most faithful of fans in past seasons. Not to mention the high anxiety, banged-up bodies and slumping careers that have been the fate of the quarterbacks that dared to stand behind it. However, this season the Browns offensive line has been the darling of the town, voted as the Browns MVP thus far this season in an informal poll on the Cleveland Browns website. Their solid performance has allowed the Browns offense morph into an explosive scoring machine capable of assaulting teams that were easy favorites.
During the 41-31 win over the Miami Dolphins the Cleveland Browns' offensive line was solid and cohesive, demonstrating consistent advancement. Many wondered how the team would fare without running back Jamal Lewis who injured his foot during the Browns' first offensive play in last week's loss against the New England Patriots. After all, replacing the 2003 NFL rushing champion is no small task. Which is probably why the Browns' coaching staff opted to go for the dynamic duo of Jason Wright (20 carries, 59 yards, 1 touchdown) and Jerome Harrison (8 carries, 57 yards).
Braylon Edwards set a new personal best and tied a franchise record by catching three touchdown passes. Kellen Winslow, Jr. (K2 to Browns' fans) didn't allow the circus act - that is Joey Porter, his bad attitude, and his constantly flapping gums - to distract him from the task at hand: getting another 'W.' Rather than get caught up in a war of words, K2 took a Kobesque approach, replying simply, "I think Joey Porter needs a hug. He's so angry." Agreed. More importantly, K2 's 5 catches and 90 yards silenced Porter, who had no impact on the game.
Quarterback Derek Anderson continues to astonish Browns fans who, during preseason, demanded that Browns head coach Romeo Crennel give rookie quarterback Brady Quinn the starting position. Anderson has more than doubled his quarterback rating since taking over the starting position just a few short weeks ago. His performance was spot on in the win over the Miami Dolphins. Anderson managed the game well, went 18/25 for 245 yards, threw three touchdown passes and not a single interception. He consistently made smart decisions, including the decision to rush for a 1-yard TD, rather than chancing a costly interception.
The Browns go into their bye week at .500, with growing confidence and another win tucked under their belts. According to head coach Crennel, the bye week will be used to "self-scout" and look for ways to improve an ailing defense.
Meanwhile, Browns fans who will always preface the fact that we are 3-3 with a qualifying, "We should be 4-2" - still smarting from an ugly, winnable loss to the Oakland Raiders and their revenge-of-the-ice-the-kicker play - will deal with the Browns withdrawal symptoms by watching the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS, or wearing out those TiVo'd Browns games.
Samara Leigh is a Northeast Ohio-based freelance writer and an Interior Redesign Consultant. Her non-fiction and fiction work celebrates the triumphant spirit of women on a journey of self-discovery. She is a regular contributor to several online publications and is currently working towards the publication of her first novel.