If you were under a rock Sunday and missed out on watching the Browns thrilling win over the Hated Ravens, you should be kicking yourself. The Browns took control of those Rat Birds early on and never really looked back, controlling the flow of the game throughout. Let’s take a look at the contributing factors in the Browns 24-18 victory.
I like to bring up the fact that I said ages ago that Jason Campbell should have been the Browns starter on day one. Sunday, Campbell showed why. He’s a smart veteran who makes good decisions, can really air the ball out still, and can make good runs to extend plays that are broken. He also showed that a flick pass can be done to success if you throw it to someone who has a chance to catch it. More than anything he did on the field, Jason Campbell proved that he is the leader that this team needs, and they rallied around him. Everything from putting the faith in Davone Bess that he could redeem himself after last weeks meltdown, to playing through an extremely painful injury, to managing the clock and the field, Campbell is the unquestioned leader of the Browns at this point. A direct quote from Jason on why he came back in after a painful rib injury is most telling: “I wasn’t coming out of the game. They would’ve had to drag me out. I wanted to stay with the guys.”. Men on a football team respond to that kind of leadership. If you’ve ever had bruised/cracked/broken ribs, you know how tough it is to breath, nonetheless risk getting hit by 300+ pound men who want to inflict pain on you. Campbell has balls. And that toughness, that leadership, it lifted this entire team up. Jason Campbell is the DPN Player of the Week. As an aside, Jason Campbell stat line in his two starts: 555 yards, 5 TD’s, 0 INTs, 111.0 Passer Rating. Probably not sustainable forever, but man what a start.
I was hard on Davone Bess last week. I felt like I had a right to be. I gave the trade that brought him to Cleveland an A+ in my post draft grades, and I have sung the praises of the usually clutch vet, even as he struggled to find his groove in this offense in the first half of the season. We hit our breaking point last week when Bess quite literally lost that game for the Browns. This week however, Davone Bess was a man on a mission. The coaches and players rallied around him, lifted him up and the veteran receiver paid them back for their faith in him. He only caught three passes, but they were huge. Two were TD’s (on that he absolutely channeled his inner Kyrie Irving and broke ankles to get to the end zone), and the 4th down conversion that locked the game up for Cleveland. So, in Cleveland today, there is only one way to spell Redemption. B-E-S-S.
Greg Little, much like Davone Bess, has struggled in his time as a Brown. He’s gotten a national reputation for dropping catchable passes, and has seemed like a player who may never develop into what was expected of him. Sunday however, even though he didn’t score, Little was a vital part of the Browns offense. He caught seven passes for 122 yards, and showed just how physically strong he is by breaking tackles and plowing over defenders. He caught two big passes for 32 and 27 yards, and even though he had two unsportsmanlike penalty calls resulting in 30 yards of penalties, they were questionable. The first time he was choked (literally) by a Ravens player, and the second was from him giving a little bit back. I can live with those. Plus, if someone tried this with me, I’d do more than chuck their helmet:
The Browns defensive effort can be summed up in one word: Suffocating. They sacked Flacco 5 times, hit him 8 more times, hurried him 14 more times, and picked him off once. They also had 9 additional tackles for loss and 8 passes defended. They were breaks in coverage at time, but they were in the minority. They shut little Ray Rice down (17 yards on 11 carries) and completely dominated at the line of scrimmage all game long. Ray Horton made smart halftime adjustments and kept the Ravens off balance by attacking from multiple angles. This Browns defense is championship caliber, make no mistake about it.
Chud is determined to give me an ulcer, I swear it. With the trick plays, the 4th down attempts, the works. He makes me sit on the edge of my seat (literally) and makes me sweat bullets. But the man has balls, I have to give him that. The Browns are leading the league in 4th down attempts and conversion, converting 10 on 19 attempts. Chud gives Ray Horton the freedom to lead an attacking defense, and between him and Norv Turner, they call an aggressive (bordering on reckless) offensive mindset. But, again, the man has balls. And as a guy who’s watch the Shurmur’s and Crennel’s, I can appreciate it. This one’s for you Chud:
This was a team win. The Browns played tough, physical football for 60 minutes, and they gutted out a win behind veteran leadership on both sides of the ball, big plays, and stout defense. I love our outlook moving forward.