The Browns have already won more games than expected at this point in the season, and each one of the victories have been enjoyable to the wonderful fans in the city of Cleveland. This one was special to the players too -- so much that tight end Kellen Winslow was brought to tears. This team is coming together, just in time to hopefully have all the confidence they need to finally match up effectively with the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday. Sure, some may argue that there is some, if not a lot of separation between the two teams. One example would be the fact that while the Browns had to shoot-out the Seahawks in overtime, the Steelers crushed them 21-0 a few weeks ago. It doesn't matter how you do it sometimes: if you put a win on the board, you're one step closer to a "big" game. Our "big" game is now.
Now, let's take a more in-depth look at how the Browns fared against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9...
Awarding Game Balls (Standout Contributions in Victory)
- Kellen Winslow: Having a banged up knee and a banged up shoulder at the same time sure sounds like it can cause a lot of pain. Sometimes it's stupid to go out and work through an injuries, but sometimes it shows how much you truly "want" something if it's within reach. Winslow considered his 11-catch, 125-yard performance the highlight of his career, after most, if not all of his catches set up Jamal Lewis' four-touchdown game on the ground.
- Sean Jones: If you're going to get burned in a poor defense, you need to make some plays to compensate for it. Jones not only has improved his coverage -- presumably since teams have started attacking the corners underneath instead -- he came up with two critical plays against the Seahawks. First, he had an interception early on to prevent the Seahawks from gaining a further advantage at the time. Then, in overtime, he was responsible for stopping Maurice Morris on fourth-down, setting up a short field for the offense to eventually set Phil Dawson up for the game-winner.
Goats of the Game (Put Bags Over Their Heads)
- Phil Dawson: I perfectly understand that extra points are missed in the NFL -- it just happens. When it does happen, if the game is close, it causes a lot of problems. Because Dawson's field goal was missed, it created two two-point conversion attempts that the Browns had to run in order to "even-out" the usual terms of a football score. If the Browns hadn't converted their second two-point conversion attempt, Dawson would likely have been responsible for the Browns being a 4-4 team right now. That would not have been good.
- National Football League: As good as our game was, I still hated the fact that because of television contractual agreements between CBS and FOX, Cleveland was just about the only city in the United States not to see the showdown between the Patriots and the Colts. Even people in Hawaii and Alaska were able to have the option of seeing that game.
General Thoughts (Random Tidbits on the Game)
- Fourth-Down Positives: I talked about it in my Samsung defining moment's piece, and it's certainly worth bringing up here. The Browns were 2-for-2 in stopping Seattle on fourth-and-short plays, moving to 4-for-4 in the past two weeks. Those plays are absolutely huge, and every time it happens, it reminds me of when the Browns stopped Warrick Dunn at the goal line in the team's final regular season game in 2001, the last time the Browns made the postseason. Besides doing well on defense in that scenario, Romeo Crennel got gutsy and went for it on fourth-down when trailing 24-16 and within field goal range. The Browns picked up a first down after a completion to Winslow.
- New Standout Wideout: After what we've seen the past two weeks, this game was a step back for Braylon Edwards due to two passes he certainly should have had for the standards he's shown to be capable of. At least for this week, Joe Jurevicius was the cream of the crop in terms of a wide receiver. He converted another play in which the Browns were near twenty yards away from a first down after a penalty, he picked a catch off the ground after turning his head at the last second near the goal line, and he held on to a tight pass through defenders on the two-pointer.
- Low Average for High Turnout: Despite only averaging 1.9 yards on 20 carries, Lewis had a career-high four touchdowns on the same day that Adrian Peterson broke his 295-yards rushing in a single game record earlier in the day. What have the Browns lacked for years? A goal line back. If the offense is moving the ball through the air, we don't need Lewis to churn out 100 yards per game as long as he punches it in when we really need him.
- No Harrison: I was disappointed at first not to see Jerome Harrison in action, but then as some users on the OBR pointed out, it was most certainly due to the constant blitzing that the Seahawks attempted. Jason Wright is solid at picking up the blitz in comparison to Harrison, who would be absolutely mauled in all likelihood.
- Perfect Timing: The screen pass to Jamal Lewis was a beautifully timed call by offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. The defense was off guard, and even I was off guard. I consider that special considering it's rather easy to see on television when a team is attempting a screen pass.
- Fullback Pounding: Doesn't it seem like Lawrence Vickers has been noted as being more physical this season than Terrelle Smith was during his tenure with the team? Vickers may have some questionable hands still in the receiving game, but they are still better than Smith's, and he also had a punishing block on former Brown Brian Russell.
- Poor Special Teams: First punt return allowed since, 2002 I believe? Dawson misses an extra point? We only have room for one poor unit (defense) on this team if we want to stay in a wildcard race.
- Under 100: For the second week in a row, the Browns held the opposing team's primary running back to under 100 yards rushing for the game. As a team, the Seahawks only ran for 105 yards. For whatever reason, our run defense has come up with a couple of clutch plays the past two weeks. Unfortunately, teams have simply thrown the easy ten-yard underneath routes to receivers for first downs instead.
- McKinney's Injury: After seeing Seth McKinney hobble to the sideline the first time, I was relieved after seeing him almost laugh it off. The second time wasn't as laughable though, as he looked to be in a considerable amount of pain. Still, I was comfortable at the time considering I'd rank McKinney the "least" important (not a diss) among our five starters, and we had two capable backups ready to step in.
- Lost in the Shuffle: Despite a solid offensive game overall, some of the offensive miscues can't be forgotten -- a few penalties, Winslow and Edwards not catching consecutive touchdown passes late in the game, and Anderson's low throw right into the defensive line for an interception early on. The Steelers defense would capitalize on those mistakes, and it would then be our offense that cost us more so than our defense.
- No Cribbs: Unless I'm forgetting it, I believe this was the first time all season that a trick play with Joshua Cribbs was not actually executed. I saw Cribbs in the game at least on one play in which I thought a trick option to him could have been set up, so maybe Anderson went with another read instead (his read went for a positive play).
- Tired of Jawing: Maybe I'm just paranoid, but I'm worried every time I see our players gloating after they get a first down. I know it's permissible, but sometimes they are celebrating almost right in the opponent's face. While they are being indirect about it in a way, I still find myself yelling at the television for them to "stop it!"
- Robaire Smith: Could it be that Robaire is keeping this defense as good as it is? I can only imagine us being even worse with Alvin McKinley back in there. However, Shaun Smith drew the praise constantly from the announcers on FOX for his standout play during the game, often getting pressure on Matt Hasselbeck. Unfortunately, any time a defensive lineman did get pressure, Hasselbeck had a man wide open by the sideline for a near first down.
- Brownies: The Browns aren't in sync with the deep ball attempts to Tim Carter. I would like to see Travis Wilson in those situations. The Browns did not allow a sack to the third-most sacking team in the league. I thought Eric Wright and Daven Holly had some solid coverage on a few plays, only to see Hasselbeck fit the ball perfectly into the hands of Bobby Engram or D.J. Hackett. The bootlegs by Derek Anderson shows just how much smarter of a quarterback he has evolved into. Compare his mobility to that of Charlie Frye's -- I think Anderson is using his mobility more effectively than Frye ever did.