By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor
Here are some final thoughts on the Browns’ 30-7 win against the Chiefs at Cleveland Browns Stadium:
>>By winning their third game in a row, the Browns accomplished much more than putting together their longest win streak since winning the final four games of the 2009 season. They showed they are capable of beating an opponent in dominant fashion rather than waiting until the final moments to decide the outcome. They showed they are capable of recovering from early adversity, which came from allowing Jamaal Charles to run 80 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. They showed they are capable of handling the success that came from back-to-back wins and four victories in their previous seven games. And they showed they are capable of playing exceptionally well in all three phases.
>>The Browns clearly are on a mission to finish the season strong. Give Pat Shurmur enormous credit for keeping his players focused and motivated after the team suffered its eighth loss at Dallas. That overtime defeat had the potential to be crushing, but the Browns managed to recover and pour the bulk of their energy into performing at a high level down the stretch. The players are investing the necessary time and effort in practice and meetings to be thoroughly prepared for each opponent. This about pride and about showing a new owner, Jimmy Haslam, and a chief executive officer, Joe Banner, that they mean business and want to be a part of the growth and development of a young squad going forward.
>>As a bonus, the Browns were the only AFC North team to register a victory in Week 14.
>>The defense did a remarkable job of not only preventing the Charles run from being devastating psychologically, but also of making the necessary adjustments to handle the Chiefs’ zone-blocking scheme. Rather than try to go toe-to-toe physically with Kansas City’s offensive line, the Browns began knifing linebackers into the cutback lanes created by the line’s lateral movement.
>>A Chiefs player told me after the game that he was particularly impressed with Browns defensive end Juqua Parker, noting that for “a guy who has been in this league for 12 years, he still brings it on every play. He’s amazing.” I couldn’t agree more. Parker’s tremendous hustle on every snap and considerable energy are truly inspiring to his younger teammates.
>>Rookie Travis Benjamin hung onto the ball from his 93-yard punt return for a touchdown long after the game. He told me it was the first of many, and there is no reason to doubt him. Benjamin’s incredible speed is something the Browns undoubtedly will continue to utilize in their return game. The Browns also caught the Chiefs off guard on the return by having Benjamin, who originally lined up at corner, and Cribbs, who had originally been back as a returner, switch places at the last minute in order to put Cribbs in position to try and block the punt. This was something the team had studied and worked on in practice, and the coaches were convinced it would pay off, one way or another. The Browns got the bonus of Benjamin using his speed and elusiveness to take it the distance for the longest punt return in Browns history.
>>The Browns’ passing game didn’t produce overwhelming numbers, but it was highly effective with significant gains. The Browns averaged 12.8 yards per catch with five different players catching the ball. Once again, the Browns’ coaches devised a scheme that allowed receivers to consistently operate in open space and make nice gains after the catch.
>>Rookie Tashuan Gipson hung onto the ball from his first career interception long after the game. He didn’t say it, but I will: That should be the first of many. The kid has a great knack for putting himself in position to make plays. He does so with good football smarts and excellent instincts. Gipson appears to have a long and bright career ahead of him.
>>Credit defensive coordinator Dick Jauron for devising coverages that absolutely flustered Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn. That effort was helped greatly by the Browns getting nickel cornerback Dimitri Patterson back after missing seven games with an ankle injury. The Browns also were able to generate most of their pressure from their defensive line, allowing them to have maximum defenders in coverage.
>>Brandon Weeden had some shaky moments, with multiple passes knocked down and a couple of near-interceptions, but he kept his composure and saw the field well while connecting on key throws.
>>Greg Little continues to step up his game, catching the ball well and making plays (four catches for 69 yards for a team-high 17.3 yards per catch). His longest grab went for 34 yards. Little also showed some of that skill he had as a former high school and collegiate running back with a 17-yard carry.
>>Josh Gordon continues to show that he is a difference-making force. His combination of speed and athleticism make it very difficult for opponents to cover him. And when the Chiefs began devoting extra coverage his way, it opened things up for other receivers, which is precisely what the Browns had in mind when they made Gordon a second-round supplemental draft pick.
>>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 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 855-363-2459.
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