There were several times in the past few years when the Browns scored the same number of times as their opponents, but Cleveland put just three points on the board, while the other team scored touchdowns.
We used to say the Browns brought field goals to a touchdown fight. And if you do that, you will lose all the time.
Today, the shoe was on the other foot. Pat Shurmur’s team scored touchdowns while the Indianapolis Colts scored field goals, and the Browns came away with a 27-19 win on the road to even their record at 1-1.
Imagine the panic that would have swept Cleveland had this one went the other way.
The easy reason for the win was that the Browns got into the red zone four times and scored two touchdowns, while Indianapolis got there three times and only reached the end zone once, because the statistics are virtually identical.
The Browns gained 303 total yards, the Colts 285. Cleveland ran for 106 yards, Indianapolis 109. The brown and orange gained just 21 more passing yards than the Colts.
Cleveland had an edge in two departments: Turnovers (2 to 1) and return yards (160 to 66). The latter number was thanks to Josh Cribbs, who is silencing his critics from last year, when he played injured trying to help his team.
Someone might want to tell the Browns that the early games kickoff at 1 PM, because once again the team looked to be lethargic in the opening quarter. Also, that same person may want to tell the team that they don’t have to wait for Cribbs to do something to get it going.
It was a 52 yard kickoff return that sparked the offense and got the team started on a drive, which culminated in a 16 yard TD pass from McCoy to Evan Moore to give Cleveland a 7-6 lead.
The former Kent State QB also caught a key third down throw from Colt McCoy for 25 yards to help Shurmur’s crew take a 14-9 lead on Peyton Hillis’ one yard run.
Cribbs also set up the Browns last touchdown, which gave Cleveland a 24-12 advantage late in the fourth quarter by returning a punt 43 yards to the Indianapolis 28. Two plays later, Hillis’ 24 yard run sealed the game for Cleveland.
When Josh Cribbs in healthy, he is indeed a difference maker. And for good measure, he also recovered the onside kick after the Colts scored late to cut the Cleveland lead to 27-19.
McCoy was a proficient passer today, the kind needed in the west coast attack, hitting on 22 of 32 passes for 211 yards and the touchdown toss to Moore.
Hillis touched the ball 31 times (27 carries, 4 receptions) accounting for 117 yards. It was interesting that Montario Hardesty had just three carries in the game, none until the fourth quarter.
Greg Little caught four passes for 38 yards, and Mohammed Massaquoi hauled in three for 45 yards. Brian Robiskie was shut out for the second straight week, and will likely lose playing time to Little.
Defensively, D’Qwell Jackson was solid again, as were the two guys in front of him, DTs Ahtyba Rubin and rookie Phil Taylor. Taylor looks like a player, folks, and Rubin had one of the two sacks on Kerry Collins. Another rookie, Jabaal Sheard, had the other, forcing a fumble in the process.
Usama Young had the defense’s other turnover, picking off Collins early in the fourth quarter.
One disturbing element for Cleveland was four fumbles, although only one was recovered by Indianapolis. Everybody who played in the Browns’ backfield lost the ball (McCoy, Hillis, Hardesty, and FB Owen Marecic). That cannot happen on a weekly basis.
So, the Browns come home at 1-1, and will likely be favored next week against the Dolphins.
As for the Colts, people who picked them to win figured one player (Peyton Manning) couldn’t make that much of a difference. By the end of the year, they will see that somebody like Manning does.