Sunday, August 12, 2007

Cleveland Browns 16, Kansas City Chiefs 12

Kansas City's two star running backs didn't even play. Their other top three offensive weapons only made token appearances. (Tony Gonzalez and Eddie Kennison started and each caught one pass. Damon Huard attempted 4 passed after relieving Brodie Croyle.) So it's no wonder their offense was nonexistent. Their touchdown was scored when Browns RB Jerome Harrison let a lateral sail over his head and failed to retrieve it. The safety was scored after Browns PR Brandon McDonald let a punt go by that was stopped at the one. And the final field goal was scored on the 3rd team defense.

That being said, the Browns managed to let the Chiefs stay in this game in spite of themselves. As was the case far too many times over the past two years, the Browns were able to move the ball down the field fairly well, but they fell apart in the red zone. Four trip inside the 20 resulted in three field goals and a botched attempt at a fourth. With time running down at the end of the half and no time outs left, Charlie Frye tried to improvise and scramble for a touchdown but fell well short.

Of Cleveland's starting QBs, Frye did look the best. Sure, most of his passes were checkdowns and dumpoffs, but 3 yards gained is better than no yards gained. Derek Anderson failed to find any rhythm at all, and most of his passes were either off target or forced into openings that just weren't there. Ken Dorsey was supposed to play the entire second half, but Romeo Crennel decided to give Anderson the first drive of the third quarter to attempt to redeem himself. He really didn't. Because of this, and because the game was still relatively close at the end, Dorsey stayed in for the remainder of the game. Despite chants of "Brady, Brady" starting late in the third period, Quinn stayed on the bench.

Jamal Lewis looked fair in his first appearance wearing brown and orange. He averaged 5 yards on 4 carries, and showed good hands hauling in 3 checkdown passes. A bulked up Jerome Harrison had a few good runs against the backup defense, while Jason Wright struggled. Twice the Browns tried to run up the middle on obvious 3rd and short situations, and twice they were stuffed. That's nothing new.

Buck Ortega was the star receiver, as the tight end caught four passes from former Hurricanes teammate Dorsey against the Chiefs third stringers. Seventh round pick Syndric Steptoe looked unimpressive both as a receiver and a returner.

On the line, Joe Thomas was called for holding twice. It could be a case of a rookie needing to adjust to the league, or it could just be a case of the refs calling him tight in his first game. But surely Browns announcer Doug Dieken felt right at home hearing holding called on his old number 73.

On the defensive front seven, Kamerion Wimbley again caused havoc, despite not recording a single tackle. He did however pressure Brodie Croyle into throwing an interception right to Leigh Bodden. Lineman David McMillan and linebackers Kris Griffin and Clifton Smith heard their names called often, which could help them stay on this ballclub.

The secondary played a very good game. On the first drive, rookie Eric Wright was tested on a deep ball. With his back to the play, he simply reached his arm up to knock the ball down. While that's perfectly legal in college, defenders are required in the NFL to turn around and face the pass. So that's something Wright will have to be careful about. Bodden, as mentioned above, had a gift-wrapped interception. Last year, after Bodden the corners weren't anything to write home about. But even those returning DBs played well. Daven Holly had a clean interception.

But the play of the game came with less than two minutes to go, when reserve RB Chris Barclay returned a kickoff for the go-ahead touchdown. With 95 seconds remaining, the Browns still needed to make a stop to seal the victory. They did, but just barely.