|CLEVELAND BROWNS (1-4)||WEEK 5||BUFFALO BILLS (1-4)|
Who says you need an offense to win a football game? That in itself is not necessarily a true statement, as the Cleveland Browns did have a fairly good day on the ground with Jamal Lewis in their 6-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills.
Around the league, the media made a joke of this game, but I think the joke was more so on the state of the Buffalo Bills. After how dismal the first three weeks of the season were, the fact is that the Browns challenged a now 4-1 Bengals team two weeks ago and took care of business against the Bills on the road. Let's get to the review of the game...
WEEK 5 - CLEVELAND BROWNS VS. BUFFALO BILLS (COMPLETE GAME REVIEW)
AWARDING GAME BALLS:
Dave Zastudil: I probably sound like a broken record since everyone is well aware that Zastudil had a fantastic game en route to being the Special Teams Player of the Week. As bad as Trent Edwards is, we probably couldn't have come away with a victory had we not dominated the field position game.
Zastudil had seven punts downed inside the 20, with three of them being at the 1-, 1-, and 4-yard lines. Zastudil gave credit to players like Mike Adams for helping to stop those balls from going into the end zone, but the punts were so beautifully placed that it made the gunners' jobs a lot easier.
- Eric Wright: After Derek Anderson threw an interception, the Bills had an opportunity at gaining some momentum. The Browns were able to move Trent Edwards out of the pocket, but with a lot of time to throw, I believe it was Terrell Owens who became open deep. Edwards' throw was terribly underthrown, and Eric Wright took advantage by intercepting it at the same time he turned himself around. Wright's pick canceled out Anderson's pick, allowing the game to continue being a special teams battle.
GOATS OF THE GAME:
- Robert Royal: The Browns had an opportunity to put the game away when Derek Anderson lofted his only good throw and one of his few deeper throws of the game over the left middle of the field to Royal. Without a defender near him and playing in the stadium he had been in for several years, Royal simply dropped the ball. Please give these reps to Steve Heiden, as Royal, as a receiver, is starting to make me miss Darnell Dinkins. DINKINS!
Derek Anderson: There are a lot of valid excuses that can be made for Anderson's 2-of-17 completion rate. With that said, there are also a lot of things that Anderson clearly could've done better. Anderson rarely throws the ball into a receiver's comfort zone, especially with the running backs.
Give it Up to the Defense: I thought the Bills were going to run the ball all over the Browns, but we clearly made an improvement Sunday. The run defense has shown signs of brilliance in which they'll give up nothing, but then give up several consecutive big runs late in the game. If the Bills ripped a decent-sized run on Sunday, the Browns usually followed it up with a stuff.
- Stopping the Duo: A big key was holding Fred Jackson, a key contributor to the Bills the first four weeks of the season, to just 30 yards on 13 carries. That killed the "dynamic duo" threat the Bills tried to present us with.
- One Big Problem Remains: All of a sudden, we can't stop the quarterbacks from running with the football -- and I'm talking about quarterbacks who usually do not take off and run. Edwards had an unacceptable 40 yards rushing on 4 attempts against the Browns. Surely, the Browns will be more aware of Ben Roethlisberger this Sunday, but how will that hinder the other aspects of our defense in exchange?
- Established an Identity: I had a lot of problems with Brian Daboll's inability to call a passing play on first- and second-downs. With so many running plays, where was the playaction fake too? I don't even know if I saw one playfake in the game from Cleveland. I do give credit to Daboll for at least having a comprehensible gameplan though, which was clearly to run the ball down the Bills' throat no matter what the situation.
- Lewis Returns: For those of you who thought Jamal Lewis was done (in terms of playing time), think again. A week after Jerome Harrison had over 30 carries, this week it was Lewis' turn, who touched the ball 31 times for 117 yards (a 3.8 average). Overall, there were some plays where I thought a better running back would've gotten more, but he still made the proper moves to get the maximum yardage he could. And, I can't complain when the guy is hurdling over defenders in the fourth quarter.
- Harrison's Line is Low: It was a rather uneventful game for Jerome Harrison, who had 8 runs for 21 yards. Props to the coaching staff for giving Harrison more than the regulated four-carries-or-less he's been accustomed to with Lewis in the lineup. Keep giving the ball to Harrison, because eventually, he'll make the defense pay. More of an effort should've been made to get the ball to Harrison on some of Anderson's 17 pass attempts though.
- An Update Look as Massaquoi: So, how did Mohamed Massaquoi handle his first game as the No. 1 receiver? Not too well, with about three passes that he should've been able to haul in. I'm going to give all of the receivers somewhat of a "bye" for the Bills game though since everyone seemed to struggle. If those struggles continue, then I'll re-evaluate.
- Looks to RoBo: I saw the jersey of Brian Robiskie in motion a few times, but I don't recall any passes being thrown his way. Maybe next week against Pittsburgh? Chansi Stuckey just needs some more with with Anderson. Where was Mike Furrey throughout the game?
- Costanzo Rules Again: I think Blake Costanzo is going to set a special teams record or something with the amount of fumbles he is recovering. When most players dive at a loose football, the ball bounces elsewhere. When Costanzo dives at it, it's like the ball gravitates right to him. Does he have some secret type of magnetic attraction device planted?
- Bigger Plans for Trusnik: It was certainly a surprise to see Alex Hall on the inactive list and new special teamer Jason Trusnik seeing pretty important reps at linebacker. I guess Mangini has bigger plans for Trusnik than we originally envisioned. Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer says that one of the reasons Hall was inactive was because the team wants him to learn his assignments better. Maybe that's true, because Hall has been a disappointment this season with his lack of impact.
Good Game for Corey Williams: Before the game, I pleaded for a defensive lineman besides Shaun Rogers to step up. That player was Williams, who even received props from Rogers after the game. Rogers was his usual self, pushing offensive linemen into Edwards throughout the game. I also thought Kenyon Coleman stepped it up a notch.
- Roughing the Passer: Give me a break. Corey Williams made a great hit on Edwards, a clean one in my book, and it nearly cost us the game because the Bills had several big plays afterwards. The officials have lost the concept of "roughing the passer" league-wide.
- Motioning Cribbs: Part of the commitment to the running game? The number of pre-snap motions/fake handoffs we did to Cribbs the whole game. Cribbs didn't get many opportunities to return kicks, but he had to of been tired after the game trying to sell the fake on almost every play. The one time we did hand it off to him? A 31-yard burst that led to a field goal. I think we can get away with giving it to him a few more times too.
- Fair Job to Cundiff: I don't know how much more of Billy Cundiff we'll be seeing, as Phil Dawson's return has to be on the horizon. Cundiff has made all five of his kicks since joining the team, with his only blemish being the kick out of bounds near the end of the game. It could've been costly, but with Edwards at quarterback, I real wasn't sweating it. Interesting note to read that Matt Stover originally turned down an offer to join the Browns once Dawson got hurt.
- Wimbley Matches: Through five games, LB Kamerion Wimbley has four sacks. That equals the total number of sacks he had all of last season. He doesn't look like a Pro Bowler by any means, but the Rob Ryan has done a better job with timing the blitzes, and bringing pressure from more than just Wimbley's side to keep the offensive line off-guard.
- Ugly Penalties: Dick Jauron should be fired. There is no excuse for that many penalties, especially that many false starts in your own stadium!
- Brownies: How cool would it have been to see the Browns snap the ball before the Bills' timeout on the punt to end the third quarter...despite being doubtful, D'Qwell Jackson played and led the team in tackles...Mike Adams continues to be a great utility player...Trent Edwards is no Carson Palmer.
Up next, the Browns have the Pittsburgh Steelers. The rivalry doesn't seem as strong with our current losing streak against them, but I think all it will take is one win over them to finally get the blood boiling again. Who knows -- maybe a win against the Steelers will help define the "legacy" of Eric Mangini in Cleveland.