Cribbs, Maynard highlight final thoughts from Browns’ victory

Posted by Vic Carucci on September 18, 2011 – 11:19 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

INDIANAPOLIS — Here are some final thoughts from the Browns’ 27-19 victory against the Colts Sunday: 

–Joshua Cribbs clearly has not lost the quarterback’s mentality that he had while playing that position at Kent State. He knows he isn’t “just” a returner who has occasional opportunities to make an impact. Cribbs takes ownership of the idea that he can routinely have a major influence on the outcome. As he told the media after the game, “I love being the spark on the team when I can … that’s my role.” Cribbs was clearly a spark practically every time he touched the ball Sunday, especially in the return game (he had a 52-yarder on a kickoff and a 43-yarder on a punt). Cribbs’ game is as much about will as it is talent.

–Cribbs’ increasing involvement in the passing game clearly gives the Browns an added dimension that should only blossom as the season continues. The West Coast offense is conducive to receivers being used on screen patterns that allow them to use their speed and explosiveness to the fullest. And when that receiver is Cribbs, watch out! His average of 13.7 yards on three catches did plenty to help the Browns’ cause.

–What a difference a week (and a punter) makes! In their season-opening loss against the Bengals, the Browns suffered badly from the poor kicks of Richmond McGee, who wound up on the injured-reserve list after the game. Quality punting is rarely appreciated until you don’t have it. And the Browns seemed destined to be without it once they lost Reggie Hodges to a season-ending torn Achilles in training camp.

–But then along comes Brad Maynard and a kicking leg that has worked for 14 NFL seasons. His experience, along with his talent, showed immediately as he was consistently effective on five punts. Not only was he impressive with his net average of 40.2 yards, but he placed three kicks inside the Colts’ 20-yard line and directed the rest of his kicks to places where the Colts couldn’t get a single return. Maynard is an extremely cool customer. During post-game interviews, he treated the fact that he was signed by the Browns less than a week before game as no big deal. It is no exaggeration to say that he was one of the heroes of the game, even if he did it in a quiet sort of way.

–Colt McCoy’s physical toughness has never been in question; he showed multiple times as a rookie last season that he was plenty tough. In this game, he demonstrated his mental toughness in a big way. After taking a massive hit from Dwight Freeney that resulted in a fumble that Joe Thomas recovered late in the first quarter as a Browns’ second drive of the day stalled, McCoy could have easily gone into the tank. He was hit hard enough, and it was early enough, that he could have become wary of any more encounters with Freeney or his standout pass-rushing partner, Robert Mathis. But McCoy hung in the pocket and played strong the rest of the game.

–We said all along that, given the Colts’ traditionally soft run defense, the Browns would find their greatest offensive success on the ground. As it turned out, they did do more rushing than passing, although it wasn’t by much (34 rushing attempts to 32 passes). Still, with Peyton Hills getting 27 carries (for 94 yards and a 3.5 yards-per-carry average), the Browns were able to set a physical tone that the Colts couldn’t handle. Hillis pounded on Indianapolis’ defensive front like a hammer, and it was clear that the Colts’ defenders were ready to surrender in the latter stages of the game, which went a long way toward helping to set up his 24-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

–You have to love the Browns’ rookie defensive-line duo of end Jabaal Sheard and tackle Phil Taylor. They are seemingly a factor on every snap. They aren’t just disruptive forces; they are playmakers. And each opponent is going to be challenged to figure out a way to deal with them. 

–But let’s not forget about steady veteran tackle Ahtyba Rubin. He is a quiet giant, just doing his job in a professional manner and with little fanfare. But, man, can he play. Rubin is a load for blockers, and his presence does plenty to help allow Sheard and Taylor to make plays.

–Not that a 0-2 start would have meant the end of the season, but there is no underestimating the confidence boost that comes from the Browns winning after the crushing disappointment of that season-opener. The loss to the Bengals, itself, was less distressing than the manner in which it occurred. Now, the Browns have a legitimate reason to believe they are strong enough in all phases to be as competitive as they expected to be before the season. And getting that first head-coaching win of his career was huge for Pat Shurmur and his ability to continue to successfully sell his program to his players … and everyone else.

–No, those weren’t the Peyton Manning Colts. And Manning’s replacement, Kerry Collins, looked every bit an aging quarterback (38) as the game progressed. He just seemed to wear out late in the game, unable to make some of the more basic throws. And in the Colts’ offense, it is all about the quarterback making big plays with his arm. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Colts end up making a change at the position in the not-too-distant future as Manning continues to recover from his latest neck surgery.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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Browns 27, Colts 19

Posted by Matt Florjancic on September 18, 2011 – 8:19 pm

INDIANAPOLIS – Pat Shurmur has his first victory as an NFL head coach, as the Browns earned a 27-19 win over the Indianapolis Colts Sunday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Peyton Hillis made it a two-possession game when he followed a block of guard Shawn Lauvao around left end, ran through the Indianapolis Colts’ secondary and scored from 24 yards out.

Phil Dawson’s extra point gave the Browns a 24-12 lead over the host Colts with just under four minutes remaining in the game.

Dawson had a pair of field goals — 20 and 23 yards, respectively —  in the fourth quarter.

Dawson’s 20-yarder capped off a seven-play, 19-yard scoring drive that took 3:49 off the clock.

First-year Browns defensive back Usama Young set up the scoring drive with his fourth career interception. He took away Kerry Collins’ pass attempt to Reggie Wayne on third-and-13 and returned it 28 yards. Young’s last interception came on November 15, 2009 as a member of the New Orleans Saints at the St. Louis Rams.

Hillis’ one-yard touchdown run with 15 seconds remaining in the second quarter put the Browns back in front of the Indianapolis Colts 14-9 at halftime.

Hillis originally had the touchdown, but a booth review overturned the score. He then followed Owen Marecic’s block into the end zone on the next snap before handing the ball to a Browns fan in the stands.

Big plays helped the Browns on the drive.

On third-and-eight from their own 39-yard line, quarterback Colt McCoy found Joshua Cribbs with a pass on the left side of the formation. Cribbs ran through a couple tackles and gained 25 yards on the play.

Two plays later, the Browns had a second-and-three from the Colts’ 29-yard line when Mohamed Massaquoi hauled in a jump ball down the right sideline for a 28-yard gain.

Adam Vinatieri kicked a 52-yard field goal, his third of the game, and put the Colts back in front of the Browns at 9-7 with 3:53 remaining in the second quarter.

Vinatieri has been good from 39, 27 and 52 yards on the day.

McCoy’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Evan Moore along the left sideline gave the Browns a 7-6 lead over the Colts with 7:53 remaining in the first half of play.

McCoy led the Browns on an 11-play, 55-yard drive that took 6:22 off the second quarter clock.

The drive did not come without adversity as Marecic had a catch overturned after a Colts challenge and the Browns were whistled for a holding penalty which negated a three-yard gain by Hillis.

Cribbs once again served as the catalyst for a Browns scoring drive. His 52-yard return set up a first-and-10 from the Cleveland 45-yard line. It was Cribbs’ second return of 50 or more yards that led to a Browns touchdown this season.

Vinatieri kicked his second field goal of the game — from 27 yards — to extend the Colts’ lead to 6-0 over the Browns with 14:15 remaining in the first half.

Vinatieri finished off a 10-play, 78-yard drive with the scoring play.

Both of the Colts scoring drives have gone 10 plays, the first covered 67 yards and the second 78. The possessions took nearly the same amount of time off the clock — 4:29 on the first and 4:40 on the second.

The Colts held a 3-0 lead over the Browns after one quarter of play after Vinatieri made a 39-yard field goal with just over 10 1/2 minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Vinatieri capped a 10-play, 67-yard drive that was aided by a 34-yard pass interference penalty on Browns cornerback Joe Haden. Haden had his right arm around the back of Pierre Garcon as the veteran wide receiver was running down the right sideline.

The Colts moved to the Browns’ 21-yard line, but Austin Collie’s drop on second down and Dimitri Patterson’s pass breakup on third down stalled the drive.

The Browns were able to move the ball well on their second possession of the game, but on third-and-two from the Indianapolis 41-yard line, Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney got into the backfield and registered his first sack of the season.

Freeney also stripped McCoy of the football after getting around left tackle Joe Thomas, but the Browns recovered. Brad Maynard launched a 42-yard punt to the Colts 13-yard line on the next play.


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Dawson good from 23

Posted by Matt Florjancic on September 18, 2011 – 8:02 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — Phil Dawson added his second field goal of the game with 2:59 remaining in the fourth quarter and gave the Browns a 27-12 lead over the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Dawson’s kick was set up three plays earlier by Jabaal Sheard’s sack of Colts quarterback Kerry Collins. Sheard knocked the ball loose, recovered it and had a five-yard return at the end of the play.


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Hillis scores from 24 yards

Posted by Matt Florjancic on September 18, 2011 – 7:49 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — Peyton Hillis made it a two-possession game when he followed a block of guard Shawn Lauvao around left end, ran through the Indianapolis Colts’ secondary and scored from 24 yards out.

Phil Dawson’s extra point gave the Browns a 24-12 lead over the host Colts with just under four minutes remaining in the game.


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Dawson kicks field goal

Posted by Matt Florjancic on September 18, 2011 – 7:29 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — Phil Dawson’s 20-yard field goal extended the Browns’ lead to five points at 17-12, with 10:57 remaining in the fourth quarter from Lucas Oil Stadium.

Dawson capped off a seven-play, 19-yard scoring drive that took 3:49 off the clock.

First-year Browns defensive back Usama Young set up the scoring drive with his fourth career interception. He took away Kerry Collins’ pass attempt to Reggie Wayne on third-and-13 and returned it 28 yards. Young’s last interception came on November 15, 2009 as a member of the New Orleans Saints at the St. Louis Rams.


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Browns lead after three

Posted by Matt Florjancic on September 18, 2011 – 7:20 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — The Browns hold a 14-12 lead over the Indianapolis Colts after three quarters of play from Lucas Oil Stadium.

Adam Vinatieri’s 36-yard field goal with 6:52 remaining in the third quarter was the only score of the period.

The Colts have the ball and face a third-and-eight from their 38-yard line.


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Colts draw closer

Posted by Matt Florjancic on September 18, 2011 – 7:01 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — Adam Vinatieri’s fourth field goal of the game — from 36 yards out–  has cut the Browns’ lead to two points, 14-12, with 6:52 remaining in the third quarter of play from Lucas Oil Stadium.

The nine-play, 42-yard drive was set up by Peyton Hillis’ fumble on a run to the left side of the formation on the Browns’ first possession of the second half.


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McCoy’s growing confidence key to first-half lead

Posted by Vic Carucci on September 18, 2011 – 6:59 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

INDIANAPOLIS — With a young team, led by a young quarterback, confidence can be fragile.

The Browns have several players getting their first taste of the road in the NFL. And it can be especially daunting in an extremely loud place such as Lucas Oil Stadium.

The biggest concern I had before the game was how Colt McCoy would be able to handle that challenge. Although he is in his second season, he is still very new to this being his team. And today is an important opportunity to demonstrate his leadership under very difficult circumstances.

Early in the game, when he took a hard hit from Dwight Freeney that led to a fumble, McCoy was guilty of holding the ball too long. At that instant, the question arose as to whether he was allowing the situation to get the better of him.

But he has since shown that he not only was able to quickly put that aside, but is also finding his rhythm and, especially, his confidence.

He is managing the game extremely well so far. His throw to Mohamed Massaquoi that set up the Browns’ second touchdown was absolutely perfect, with the ball being in the place that only Massaquoi could catch it. And Massaquoi did a superb job of muscling his way for the catch.

That could very well prove to be a key turning point in this game.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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Browns lead at the half

Posted by Matt Florjancic on September 18, 2011 – 6:36 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — Peyton Hillis’ one-yard touchdown run with 15 seconds remaining in the second quarter put the Browns back in front of the Indianapolis Colts 14-9 at halftime from Lucas Oil Stadium.

Hillis originally had the touchdown, but a booth review overturned the score. He then followed Owen Marecic’s block into the end zone on the next snap before handing the ball to a Browns fan in the stands.

Big plays helped the Browns on the drive.

On third-and-eight from their own 39-yard line, quarterback Colt McCoy found Joshua Cribbs with a pass on the left side of the formation. Cribbs ran through a couple tackles and gained 25 yards on the play.

Two plays later, the Browns had a second-and-three from the Colts’ 29-yard line when Mohamed Massaquoi hauled in a jump ball down the right sideline for a 28-yard gain.

Adam Vinatieri kicked a 52-yard field goal, his third of the game, and put the Colts back in front of the Browns at 9-7 with 3:53 remaining in the second quarter.

Vinatieri has been good from 39, 27 and 52 yards on the day.

McCoy’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Evan Moore along the left sideline gave the Browns a 7-6 lead over the Colts with 7:53 remaining in the first half of play.

McCoy led the Browns on an 11-play, 55-yard drive that took 6:22 off the second quarter clock.

The drive did not come without adversity as Marecic had a catch overturned after a Colts challenge and the Browns were whistled for a holding penalty which negated a three-yard gain by Hillis.

Cribbs once again served as the catalyst for a Browns scoring drive. His 52-yard return set up a first-and-10 from the Cleveland 45-yard line. It was Cribbs’ second return of 50 or more yards that led to a Browns touchdown this season.

Vinatieri kicked his second field goal of the game — from 27 yards — to extend the Colts’ lead to 6-0 over the Browns with 14:15 remaining in the first half.

Vinatieri finished off a 10-play, 78-yard drive with the scoring play.

Both of the Colts scoring drives have gone 10 plays, the first covered 67 yards and the second 78. The possessions took nearly the same amount of time off the clock — 4:29 on the first and 4:40 on the second.

The Colts held a 3-0 lead over the Browns after one quarter of play after Vinatieri made a 39-yard field goal with just over 10 1/2 minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Vinatieri capped a 10-play, 67-yard drive that was aided by a 34-yard pass interference penalty on Browns cornerback Joe Haden. Haden had his right arm around the back of Pierre Garcon as the veteran wide receiver was running down the right sideline.

The Colts moved to the Browns’ 21-yard line, but Austin Collie’s drop on second down and Dimitri Patterson’s pass breakup on third down stalled the drive.

The Browns were able to move the ball well on their second possession of the game, but on third-and-two from the Indianapolis 41-yard line, Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney got into the backfield and registered his first sack of the season.

Freeney also stripped McCoy of the football after getting around left tackle Joe Thomas, but the Browns recovered. Brad Maynard launched a 42-yard punt to the Colts 13-yard line on the next play.


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Hillis scores TD

Posted by Matt Florjancic on September 18, 2011 – 6:29 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — Peyton Hillis’ one-yard touchdown run with 15 seconds remaining in the second quarter put the Browns back in front of the Indianapolis Colts 14-9 at halftime from Lucas Oil Stadium.

Hillis originally had the touchdown, but a booth review overturned the score. He then followed Owen Marecic’s block into the end zone on the next snap before handing the ball to a Browns fan in the stands.

Big plays helped the Browns on the drive.

On third-and-eight from their own 39-yard line, quarterback Colt McCoy found Joshua Cribbs with a pass on the left side of the formation. Cribbs ran through a couple tackles and gained 25 yards on the play.

Two plays later, the Browns had a second-and-three from the Colts’ 29-yard line when Mohamed Massaquoi hauled in a jump ball down the right sideline for a 28-yard gain.


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