The Morning After: Peter King and the Media on the Browns' Win Over New Orleans

With the bye week ahead of us, it will be nice to enjoy the Browns' victory over the New Orleans Saints for the next two weeks. I thought that other Week 7 NFL oddities, such as the Raiders putting up 59 points, the ending to the Steelers-Dolphins game, or the unusual shootout between the Bills and the Ravens, would overshadow Cleveland's upset victory over Drew Brees and company. I was wrong; Cleveland is getting quite a bit of recognition. Let's take a look, starting with Sports Illustrated's Peter King:

Defensive Players of the Week (note: DeAngelo Hall was also one)

David Bowens, LB, Cleveland.

The career journeyman, in the span of 29 minutes, picked off Brees twice and returned both to the house. I can guarantee you that no stranger sentence will ever be written about the career of a backup front-seven player. Drew Brees gave Bowens two pick-sixes, from 30 and 64 yards. Beyond amazing.

Special Teams Player of the Week

Reggie Hodges, P, Cleveland.

Hard for a punter to have a better day. His 68-yard run with a fake punt was 50 yards longer than any other Cleveland offensive play of the day. He dropped two of his four punts inside the 20 and had a longer net average, 42.3-yards, than gross (42.0). He held for kicks.

Coaching Decision of the Week

Cleveland defensive coordinator Rob Ryan turning Scott Fujita loose in his old town.


Midway through the first quarter, Ryan called for Fujita, lined up at the right outside linebacker, to take on the tight end or back on a blitz call. Fujita, with an emotional homecoming game at the Superdome, blew through Dave Thomas and sacked old friend Brees for a 10-yard loss, helping set the table for a stunning victory by Cleveland. Ryan knew Fujita, one of the Super Bowl heroes in New Orleans last year, would be inspired to play a great game, so he sent him early and was rewarded.

The next featured media member is Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson. His entire introduction was dedicated to discussing the Saints losing to the Browns, but it was focused on the Saints rather than Cleveland. Later on, he had some kind words for the Browns:
Cleveland Browns linebacker David Bowens
It’s not often you’ll see a converted defensive end intercept two passes for touchdowns in a game. And I’m not sure there has been a bigger upset this season than the one Bowens and the Browns pulled off against New Orleans on the road. I’m still not buying Rob Ryan as a potential head coaching candidate, but he called a good game Sunday. The Saints made critical errors that killed rhythm all day, and rarely had a chance to set up the downfield passing game.

Loved: The 68-yard pickup on a fake by Cleveland punter Reggie Hodges(notes) in the second quarter against New Orleans, helping to build a stunning 20-3 halftime lead for the Browns. You have to love Cleveland being aggressive and creative against the Saints. Amazingly, the Browns don’t look like a pushover anymore.

Here is Yahoo Sports' Michael Silver, who detailed Scott Fujita's return to New Orleans:

Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita knew his return to New Orleans would be emotional, so upon his arrival in the Big Easy Saturday he made a point of taking teammate Eric Barton on a power tour of his old ‘hood in the city’s Warehouse District. They paid quick visits to his favorite sushi spot, Rock-N-Sake, and his favorite watering hole, Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar and Restaurant, along with the fashionable condo that Fujita and his wife, Jaclyn, still own. "That actually kind of helped," he said Sunday night. "I was able to experience the emotion then, so when I got to the game it was more about football."

Fujita then proceeded to play some very good football against his former team – "He balled out and was all over the ball," teammate Alex Mack said – registering an interception and sack of buddy Drew Brees while resisting the compulsion to talk trash. Most important, the Browns stunned the defending Super Bowl champs 30-17 to improve to 2-5. "It’s been hard for us to finish games," an exhausted Fujita said upon his return to Cleveland late Sunday night. "This time we closed it out. Hopefully we can start to get something rolling."

Next up is Sports Illustrated's Don Banks in his weekly Snap Judgments column:

• And speaking of superstar quarterbacks who had disappointing days, raise your hand if you foresaw Drew Brees and Co. finding a way to lose in blowout fashion to Browns rookie quarterback Colt McCoy in just his second career start.

Brees threw four interceptions and was sacked three times, with two of the picks (from 64 and 30 yards) being returned for touchdowns by 12th-year linebacker David Bowens. Not that they were rare or anything, but in the first 11-plus seasons of his NFL career, Bowens had just two other interceptions, one each in 2008 and 2009. Oh, and Brees already has 10 interceptions this season after totaling just 11 of all last year.

• It wasn't exactly Favre returning to Lambeau, but no one enjoyed the Browns upset at New Orleans more than Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita. The former Saints defensive leader, who signed as a free agent with the Browns in March, had one of the four interceptions of Brees. But maybe Fujita's biggest contribution for Cleveland came last week, in sharing secrets of how to prepare for Brees and where the weak spots in his game might be.

• The Jets and Rex Ryan were off this week, but wouldn't you know a Ryan was still front and center in Week 7. Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, Rex's twin brother, had a great game plan for playing the Saints, and his postgame Gatorade shower was richly deserved.

The Browns really harassed Brees into multiple mistakes, and made him look flustered for much of the game. It was the first time in a long time that I can remember thinking that Brees' lack of prototypical NFL quarterback height really hurt him in a game.

John Clayton briefly mentions Cleveland throughout his column, but its basically the same stuff listed above. It'll be interesting to see if Cleveland shoots up on the power rankings charts on Tuesday.

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