Come on, Browns fans -- don't tell me I was the only one who had a goofy smile on their face when Jeff Wolfert's 45-yard field goal sailed through the uprights to give Cleveland a 19-17 victory over the Detroit Lions in the Great Lakes Classic?
The final score in preseason games usually don't mean squat for judging the regular season, and the case was no different here. All eyes were on quarterback Brandon Weeden, who made his debut in a Browns uniform. Things definitely started out with a bang for Weeden, who connected with Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin on 11- and 34-yard completions on his first two passes. After that, things started going a bit south.
The wide receivers were the first to kill the momentum. First, rookie Josh Gordon looked like a guy who hasn't played football in awhile, dropping a pass right in his hands and not being very physical in coming back to the ball, which almost led to an interception and drove Bernie Kosar nuts. A little later, it was learned that Massaquoi suffered some form of a head injury on the team's first offensive play. I really do feel terrible for him, and it could be a big blow considering how "great" of a camp he was having. On the offensive line, it seemed like Mitchell Schwartz also had some protection issues at right tackle.
The Lions tried to put together a few drives in the first quarter, but one ended on an interception by veteran cornerback Sheldon Brown, and another resulted in a punt from midfield. Neither team did well on third downs, so punts were rather plentiful. In an attempt to convert one of those short third downs near the end of the first quarter, Weeden wasn't as accurate as he'd like to be on a pass to Greg Little, allowing Lions cornerback Dwight Bentley to step in and rip the ball away for an interception. A little while later, Lions running back Keiland Williams punched the ball into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown to give Detroit a 7-0 advantage.
Next in for the Browns was backup quarterback Colt McCoy, who was efficient in throwing and scrambling on several drives. His highlight pass came on a 42-yard connection with tight end Jordan Cameron, which helped set up a Phil Dawson's 37-yard field goal, cutting the lead to 7-3. Detroit quickly widened their margin with veteran quarterback Shaun Hill came in to relieve Stafford. He led the Lions to a touchdown-scoring drive, giving them a 14-3 lead at halftime.
The second half had quite a bit of offense, sparked by a 45-yard punt return by Jordan Norwood. It gave Cleveland a short field, and on a third-down play, Seneca Wallace rolled to his right and found fullback Brad Smelley open after an adjustment. Smelley dove to the end zone for the score, making it a 14-10 game.
Fast-forward to the fourth quarter, where the Lions tacked on a field goal to make it 17-10 in favor of the Lions. In came fourth-string quarterback Thaddeus Lewis for the Browns, who had received great preseason reviews as a member of the Rams in the past. The offense was smooth on his first drive, ending with a 3-yard rushing touchdown by rookie running back Adonis Thomas. Head coach Pat Shurmur wanted to go for the two-point conversion, but the run by Thomas up the middle failed. It was a 17-16 game at that point.
After being gashed by the cutback run all game long, the Browns' defense came up with a quick stop to give Cleveland the ball back with just over two minutes to play. Lewis led Cleveland down the field again, setting up Wolfert's game-winning field goal (as mentioned in the introduction). The Lions' last-ditch effort ended after an interception by rookie defensive back David Sims.
I'll have my full recap on the game some time Saturday. In the mean time, feel free to reflect on how you felt the game went down. Keep in mind that the Browns were without many defensive players, including Frostee Rucker, Ahtyba Rubin, and D'Qwell Jackson. During the game, they had injury scares with Mohamed Massaquoi, Jordan Cameron, Dimitri Patterson, and Scott Paxson. Hopefully all of those guys will end up being fine, but the one I'm most concerned with is Massaquoi.