Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Browns think TDs, come home with win

Now that’s more like it.

The Browns cut down on the penalties (only three this week), kept their wits about them (coming back after falling behind 6-0 in the second quarter) and finally wore down the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday to hand coach Pat Shurmur his first NFL win, a 27-19 victory over Indianapolis.

And while things may have turned out differently if Peyton Manning had been at quarterback for the Colts, he doesn’t play defense and its not like the Browns haven’t had to deal with their share of injuries through the years.

“I don’t know if we adjusted. We probably would have seen some different things (against Manning),” Shurmur said in published reports. “Don’t underestimate this (Colts) team. For us to get our first victory against them is good.”

Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron’s “play fast” defense carried the water until the offense got its act together, limiting the Colts to 4-of-14 on third down, 109 yards rushing, four field goals and no first downs from halfway through the third quarter until garbage time, when the Colts scored a meaningless touchdown.

Defensive linemen Ahtyba Rubin (a sack, four tackles), Jabaal Sheard (a strip sack, five tackles) and Phil Taylor (five tackles) all had solid games. Rubin absolutely destroyed Colts center Jeff Saturday on his sack.

“We’re just playing blocks better, getting off blocks versus the run,” Taylor told The Plain Dealer. “We knew (Collins is) not going to run their offense like Peyton (Manning) does. So we knew we could rattle him after we hit him a couple times.”

The defense’s effort kept the game in check until the Browns could get their offense untracked.

Peyton Hillis rushed for 94 yards and two touchdowns, the second a 24-yard run that pretty much put the game away with 3:55 left in the fourth quarter.

Colt McCoy spread the ball round to eight receivers, completing 22-of-32 for 211 yards and a touchdown, hooking up for the second week in a row with tight end Evan Moore.

We’d like to see McCoy throw a little bit less, but today’s game was a good look at what this Browns offense is going to look like. McCoy is going to share the wealth with his passes and the offense is going to try to use the combination of time and pressure to wear down opposing defenses.

Hillis’ second TD run was a perfect example, as the offensive line kept working and working until they finally broke down the Colts.

“That’s Peyton,” McCoy said. “He’s going to run and run and run. Eventually, he’s going to run over someone and go.”

Josh Cribbs also showed that not only is he healthy again, but that the new kickoff rules have made him a weapon again. Cribbs had two kickoff returns for 80 yards – with a long of 52 yards – and two punts for 52 yards – with a long of 43 yards. His ability to continue to give the Browns a short field is going to make it that much easier on the offense.

“I love being the spark on the team,” Cribbs told The Plain Dealer. “That’s my role. I’m embracing that role.”

After two games, despite the problems on offense, the Browns have scored 17 and 27 points. In two years under Eric Mangini, the Browns only scored more than 27 points four times. And as Terry Pluto pointed out in his column today, the 17 points was more than the Browns scored in seven games last year and nine games in 2009.

So now, a week after some believed the season was over after one loss, the Browns have embraced Shurmur’s “think touchdowns, not field goals” philosophy and find themselves in a tie for first place in the AFC North.

Not a bad way to start off the week.

(Photo by The Associated Press)

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