The Browns kept playing good football for what seems to be a record, 3 straight weeks. This 2009 season is starting to look less like a complete waste of our time and it appears that this team might actually be building to something. With the recent hire of Mike Holmgren that we are still eager to see develop, things only look more positive. The Eric Mangini era could be coming to an end pretty soon, but for the meantime he is working with the players and his coaches and producing good football. The Browns move to 4-11 with a shot at beating Jacksonville to make it 5 w’s and an improvement over last year in week 17. But, before we get ahead of ourselves, lets look at Sunday’s win with a very happy, loving and critical viewpoint.
I don’t want to drown out another Browns win bitching about the Defense too much again. I figure it will be best to get that out of the way first, and then move on to the other parts of the game that went very well. Before I get down on the defensive side of the team, they do deserve props for getting 3 interceptions, 4 sacks and 1 forced fumble that they were not able to recover. Eric Wright had a beautiful interception in the end zone, and the pass rushers pressured Charlie Frye all day. Marcus Bernard got yet another sack, and Matt Roth got 1.5 sacks. The pass defense was a bit of a good thing and a bit of a bad thing today. Frye threw for 333 yards. We picked him off 3 times. So I guess I can’t really complain too much, but it would be nice to see the defense shut someone down like they did against Pittsburgh, but I can’t fault them for playing another really good game, got a win, did a lot of good things on the field, forced 3 turnovers which is, I am pretty sure, the best of the year. The run defense gave up almost 5 yards per carry, but they only rushed 19 times as they were playing from behind and airing it out all day long. The defense did a great job of bending but not breaking, keeping the Raiders out of the endzone and limiting them to 3 Janikowski field goals.
As for the passing game. Umm…. DA didn’t suck. He wasn’t good, but he wasn’t nearly as horribly and painfully bad as he was while he was starting earlier this year. 8-17 for 121 yards, 1 TD, no interceptions and got sacked 2 times. He threw to a tune of a 90.6 Quarterback rating, by far his best of the season. I really have to admit that I like this team and how they play when the don’t pass the ball a lot. I like to see them passing as a luxury when building a lead, rather then passing because of a necessity being down by 3 touchdowns. Mohammed Massaquoi got 3 catches for 61 yards and a TD. A pretty good game from the rookie as he lead the team in receptions. It would be great to see them put up more numbers as a unit, but when you are facing a pass defense that features the best shutdown corner int he league, it was smart to pound the ball on the ground. Jerome Harrison, simply put, is awesome…
Lets get to this running game this team has found. I don’t know what is more impressive, the blocking Harrison is getting from Lawrence Vickers and the O-Line, his vision and speed, or the fact that Mangini is actually realizing that there may be something good there. Harrison followed up his record setting performance last week in which he carried the ball for 286 yards and 3 TD’s with another record setting performance carrying the ball for a team record 39 times, for a solid 148 yards and a score. He was responsible for the Browns only turnover with a fumble, but that can easily be overlooked due to his impressive performance of late. He helped the team dominate the game and control the tempo. The teams offense was aided by 13 penalties by the Raiders for over 120 yards. Josh Cribbs got 4 carries for 21 yards, and was not featured much in the offense other then that to my disappointment. He only got to return 1 kick, for 27 yards, so maybe Tom Cable wasn’t as brave as he said he was going to be. Harrison got 2 returns for 39 yards, and Cribbs got 4 punt returns for 20+ yards. So not much of a day for Cribbs, but he deserved an easy week after last week. Harrison’s workload increased, but he deserves the vote of confidence from the coaching staff that is only just realizing his potential and beginning to trust him.
The Browns improve to 4-11, looking at moving up to 5 wins next week against Jacksonville who got utterly dominated by the Patriots. Jacksonville is probably better then us, but we have proven with this win and with the win against Pittsburgh, that we are capable of beating teams who are “better” than us. So, we’ll see how things go. But congrats do go out to this team for making a remarkable turn around from 1-11 to make it to at least a 4 win season and look like they are making strides for the future. I am sitting on the edge of my seat to see how things go from here on out with the official announcement of Mike Holmgren as team President and I am curious as ever to see what happens with Eric Mangini. Mangini is coaching for his job right now, and he is making a strong case. I do not necassarily agree with him running this team, but he might be proving that he deserves a second chance. Until next time Browns fans, celebrate another victory for the Brownies!