|CLEVELAND BROWNS (3-11)||WEEK 15||KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (3-11)|
I wonder if a team has ever had as bad of cumulative quarterback statistics in the three games the Browns have won this year. This past Sunday, Brady Quinn was threw for just 66 yards and 2 interceptions, and yet the Browns put up their highest point total of the season. Quinn won't be able to play for the final two games, but I'll still judge his performance from the game as if he was still playing.
Let's get to the full review of the game, starting with the game balls for the second week in a row...
WEEK 15 - CLEVELAND BROWNS VS. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (COMPLETE GAME REVIEW)
AWARDING GAME BALLS:
Joshua Cribbs: For as much as much of an impact that Jerome Harrison had against the Chiefs, it was Joshua Cribbs' two kick returns for touchdowns in the first half that kept us in the game in order to set up Harrison's big second half. On Cribbs' first return for a score, he broke through several tackles and then accelerated to the end zone.
After that, surely you'd think the Chiefs would stop kicking to Cribbs, right? After the Browns built a 13-3 lead in the second quarter, the Chiefs scored 21 unanswered to go up 24-13. The Chiefs had all of the momentum, but then just before the two-minute warning, Cribbs weaved his way through the coverage untouched for a 103 yard touchdown. Cribbs now holds the NFL record for kick return touchdowns with a total of 8 in his career; the next closest player only has 6.
Cribbs gave it his all to try and return more kicks for touchdowns; at one point, he hurdled over a pile of special teamers who were falling to the ground, looking as if he was flying in the process.
Jerome Harrison: You don't break Jim Brown's team rushing record with 286 rushing yards and not get a game ball. Cribbs did the work in the first half, and Harrison was a machine in the second half. As always, a performance like that would not have been possible without superb blocking from the offensive line and poor defenders on the opposition.
Nonetheless, if Jamal Lewis was in the game instead, I seriously question whether he would have been able to get 100 yards on the ground. Harrison ran through small holes and then exploded when he saw daylight. Lewis would see those holes throughout the season but would be tripped up just as he was going through them.
Most of you here at Dawgs By Nature know how much of an advocate of Harrison's I have been. Call me crazy, but the type of day that Harrison had is the type of one I've always thought he was capable of as a starting running back (to a much lesser extent, i.e. 150 yards). The excuses that he can't handle the load or isn't a good enough blocker to start in the NFL should be thrown out the window, especially if Harrison is productive again this coming Sunday against the Raiders.
GOAT OF THE GAME:
Reggie Hodges: Yes, long snapper Ryan Pontbriand blew it by snapping the ball too early when the players weren't set up. That doesn't qualify as an errant snap in the sense of the ball being too low or too high to field; it was more of a mental lapse I suppose or a miscommunication.
What there wasn't an excuse for was the rather pathetic effort that Reggie Hodges gave when going after the ball. I can only imagine he thought he had time to pick up the ball and punt it still, which is a ridiculous thought in itself. Hodges should've either dove at the football to cover it up as soon as possible, or he should've kicked the ball out of the back of the end zone and taken whatever penalty the referees assess for that. Instead, he circled around the ball, looked up at the rush, panicked, and then allowed 3-4 Chiefs to dive at the ball. Then he winced around in pain as Browns fans around the country also winced too at Hodges' sad effort.
- Consistency of Chansi Stuckey: After not having many catches during his first several games with the team, Chansi Stuckey has been the team's best wide receiver the past several weeks. Brian Daboll even seems to have picked up on this fact, as many of the team's third-down passing situations are now designed for Stuckey, who always does a good job getting to the marker. Stuckey had 5 catches on Sunday, representing half of Quinn's 10 completions.
Massaquoi to Contrast: To contrast what Stuckey has been doing, let's reflect back on Mohamed Massaquoi's only catch of the afternoon: a three yard reception over the middle. On a short route like that, it should be pretty easy to have field recognition and know where the first-down marker is. Massaquoi caught the ball and failed to make the safe play by diving down for a yard for a first down.
That's a play you'll see all of the Colts receivers make any given Sunday because they are football savvy. The defender made a nice tackle, but Massaquoi certainly could've done more sooner to get the first down and move the chains. Had the Browns not won, I might've listed Massaquoi as a goat for the game. The Browns were driving to midfield, and after the punt, the Chiefs quickly marched the ball down the field to take the lead in what was appearing as a game ready to become a shootout.
- All I Can Say is Roth: That was an ugly defensive game, which is why I advised fantasy football owners to stay away from the Browns' defense. We can shut down Pittsburgh one week, and give up nearly 500 yards of offense to the offensively-challenged Chiefs the next week. The only defender who had any form of an impact was LB Matt Roth. Roth recovered a first-quarter fumble, one that was forced by DL Corey Williams. During the two-minute drill at the end of the first half, Matt Cassel was driving until Roth sacked him on 2nd-and-10 for a loss of 8. Without that play, the Chiefs probably find a way to tack on a field goal before the half.
- Credit to Hodges & Dawson: I ragged on Reggie Hodges earlier, but I'll give him credit for executing both of his other two punts well since both of them fell inside the 20 (one was at the 15, the other was at the 10). Phil Dawson was also solid at field goals; his 52-yarder that missed was right down the middle and was only short by a foot. It would've been good without Eric Steinbach's false start penalty, but then again, our offensive line has been outstanding at not having penalties this season.
Quinn's Abilities: Even though he hasn't been throwing the ball particularly well, Brady Quinn has offered this offense so much more than Derek Anderson did due to the non-throwing aspects of the game. Quinn does a better job selling the playaction fake -- on his first interception, if Massaquoi breaks off his route or if the play goes more to the outside, there was a big gain ready to be had.
Later on, Quinn's playfake on the bootleg rollout for a 24-yard run was so good that the linebacker initially near Quinn completely followed the running back into the backfield. There are other things too, including Quinn utilizing the no-huddle offense to get a play off quickly to prevent it from being reviewed and even just how he hands the ball off compared to Anderson.
- McDonald Served Up: The more I've had the opportunity to see Brandon McDonald this season, the more that I rank the defensive back position higher on my offseason priority chart. McDonald had trouble defending Chris Chambers on Sunday, and despite having better initial position on a jump ball early in the game, McDonald drifted behind Chambers and allowed him to make the catch.
- Go Down or Go In?: When Jerome Harrison scored a 28-yard touchdown with 44 seconds left to play, the cameras flashed to a rather disgusted Eric Mangini on the sidelines. Should Harrison have gone in for the touchdown, or should he have gone down at the one-yard line, alas Brian Westbrook from a year ago?
- Benefits of Going In: You are guaranteed a full touchdown lead, your opponent only has one timeout, and they need a touchdown. With 44 seconds to work with, any coach should feel confident in there chances.
- Benefits of Going Down: Earlier this season, Maurice Jones-Drew received some criticism for going down at the one-yard line, but that was because his team was losing when he did it. On a missed field goal, although unlikely, the Jaguars would have lost. The Browns were tied with the Chiefs though, so basically, the odds of making the extra-short extra point field goal try would've been higher than 99%.
- Conclusion of Harrison's Play: It seemed like a win-win either way. Unless Harrison was specifically instructed in the past to go down at the one-yard line though, I don't understand the disgust shown by Mangini at all. It's funny because this is the second straight coach that this has happened with. Last year, after Harrison's long touchdown run against the Bills, I recall the cameras flashing to a pissed-off-looking Romeo Crennel. What gives?
Almost Backfired: Scoring early almost backfired for the Browns, as Cassel completed a 33-yard pass on first down, followed by a 7-yard pass on second down. That's where some controversy started, and where David Bowens made the only other defensive impact of the game besides Roth. Bradley was down, but sort of juggled the ball. Therefore, Bowens went after the ball, ripped it away, and sold things as if he was returning a fumble.
Defensive delay of game could've been called, but Bowens did have a point and the referees used their discretion. It did screw the Chiefs big time out of time though, as an extra six or so seconds were wasted. That would've been enough time for Kansas City to either get closer to the end zone, or take two shots at the end zone.
Awkward Hail Mary: Just 26 yards away from the end zone, Matt Cassel threw a ridiculously high Hail Mary pass that ended up hitting the goal posts to end the game. It was honestly one of the most baffling throws to end a game I've ever seen. Ben Roethlisberger only had 19 yards to go against the Packers, but that type of shot seems much more likely to result in a score than the tip-fest Hail Mary.
Looking at the replay, there was one Brown and one Chief on the left sideline at around the five-yard line. Wouldn't it make more sense to just fire a rope in that area and take the one-on-one chance? I'm telling you, teams just drive me nuts sometimes. I was actually upset as a football fan at the Chiefs for such a decision.
- Cool Name: Every time the announcers said the Chiefs kicker's name, "Ryan Succop", it sounded funny. Get it? Suck-Up? (Tumbleweed rolls by)
- Dropped Passes: The number of dropped passes by the Chiefs reminded me of the Browns earlier this season. I fear that those dropped passes might return with Derek Anderson back under center now.
Brownies: I saw Brian Robiskie make a few special teams tackles...Evan Moore only had one catch (and only one target I believe), but it was effective for a first down...RB Jamaal Charles didn't have as good of stats as Harrison, but he had just as impressive of a game...Chris Jennings only had 18 yards on 7 carries, but I wholeheartedly agree with using both running backs still (one spells the other when needed).
Next up, the Browns take on the Oakland Raiders, where we will see an epic battle between Derek Anderson and Charlie Frye. Unless you're in the Cleveland or Oakland areas, CBS is not showing you this game.