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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “winning”

Browns win? Browns win!

The Cleveland Browns finally sent the faithful home with something to cheer about, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, 14-10.

It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t pretty, but the Browns found a way to get the job done.

“Everybody played their hearts out and it’s about time it went our way,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said in published reports. “We knew it was up to us. Right there. We had to make the play and we did.”

In typical Browns fashion, the team should have gone up 17-10 when Phil Dawson kicked a 38-yard field goal that was probably good but the refs ruled was a miss with 2:49 left in the game. Jacksonville then marched down the field all the way to the Browns 3-yard-line, where Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert’s third-down pass was incomplete as time expired, sealing the win.

“A lot of games come down to the last drive in the NFL,” said Browns coach Pat Shurmur. “That’s just the way it is. You stop them, you win. You kick your field goal or score your touchdown, you win. I think we were on the good end of it. I think as we move forward, and that’s what we’re doing, we’re moving forward into the second half of our year. As we move forward, we can try to build on this victory. I think that’s where we’re at.”

So how did the Browns hold up to pregame questions?

Can the Browns score a touchdown in the first quarter? Nope, still 0-10 on the year.

Can the Browns score a touchdown in the third quarter? Nope, still 0-10 on the year.

Can the Browns score a touchdown at home? Now we’re getting somewhere. Chris Ogbonnaya scored from the 1 in the second quarter and Josh Cribbs caught a 3-yard pass from Colt McCoy in the fourth.

“The play to Cribbs, he is my second read,” McCoy said. “The nickel-back played outside of Greg (Little) when he ran his route and so Josh has to win one-on-one in the end zone, and he did a nice job, and made a nice catch.”

Can the Browns stop the run? Cleveland held Jacksonville to just 3.7 yards per rush and limited Maurice Jones-Drew to 87 yards. They also stopped Jones-Drew twice inside the 5-yard-line on the final drive of the game.

Can the Browns move the ball against the Jaguars? The Browns had 334 yards and 20 first downs against the No. 4 defense in the NFL. In addition, Ogbonnaya had a career-best 115 yards (with a long run of 40) and a 5.5 yard per carry average against a solid run defense.

“It felt good. It was a good atmosphere,” Ogbonnaya said. “The fans are really nice in Cleveland. They really get into the game, regardless of what is going on. That definitely helps somebody like me as a running back. Once I get into a rhythm and get comfortable, you hear the energy of the crowd and that gives you a little more incentive to play well.”

Does the Browns offense and McCoy have the proper amount of “lust for the end zone?” Against the 5th-best pass defense in the league, McCoy spread the ball around to seven different receivers, with Greg Little catching a team-high 5 passes and Jordon Norwood pulling in a catch-and-run for 51 yards.

“Jordan has done a really nice job,” McCoy said. “He made some really nice catches for us today. He continues to grow each week. Jordan is a guy who is going to do the right thing every time. We run a lot of option-routes with him. He is really smart and the one big play that he had they blitzed off of the edge and that’s his choice. He can sit, he can go out, he can go in and he made a really nice play.”

So after all the injuries and the ups-and-downs of the season so far, the Browns find themselves one ridiculously botched kick from being at .500 after 10 games for the first time in what seems like forever. The team still has a very long way to go, but they are competitive against the teams they should be competitive with.

And, at least for one game, the offense shook off some of its problems and did enough to help the team pull out a win.

“The game isn’t over, especially with Browns football and the way things have been going for years (someone has been paying attention), we’ve got to keep playing,” Cribbs said. “It (the win) doesn’t take any pressure off, we still have to go. We still have to have the mentality that we are playing down and we have to keep on scoring. It seemed like that at the end. We didn’t make the field goal but we have to keep on scoring and have that scoring mentality every time we have the football.”

(Photo by The Associated Press)

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Flashes are golden on the links

Kent State continues to prove you can have a successful athletic program without cheating, as the men’s golf team is on the verge of its second-consecutive Top 20 finish on the season.

The Golden Flashes posted their best round of the 2011 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship on Thursday, shooting a final-round 8-over 296. Kent ended the NCAA Finals with a 54-hole total of 902 (304-302-296).

“I’m extremely proud of this group, the wind picked up today and our guys went out and shot not only our best round of the tournament, but one of the best final rounds by the entire field,” said coach Herb Page. “All of the young guys played well today and senior (John) Hahn capped off a wonderful career. It was a great way to finish the year and I’m really happy for all the players.”

A Top 20 finish would be the sixth in the program’s history.

The men’s basketball team was also in the news this week, as ESPN.com’s Pat Forde named Kent State as one of the top 10 schools that get the most out of their basketball programs.

Ford wrote that: In a league full of boom-and-bust cycles, the Golden Flashes are remarkably consistent, riding a streak of 13 winning seasons. They’ve won at least 20 games in 12 of those seasons, one of just 10 programs that can make that claim during that stretch. The highlight came in 2002, when they advanced to the Elite Eight as a No. 10 seed.

Since 1998-99, Kent State is tied for 15th nationally with 306 wins which places the program ahead of more than 61 BCS schools and ranks 5th nationally among the 272 mid-major schools. Additionally Kent State, Kansas, Gonzaga and Creighton are the only four schools in the country to win at least 10 league games in each of the last 13 years.

During that same span, Kent State has put together the most outstanding postseason run in the history of the Mid-American Conference with 12 appearances in the past 13 years. The stretch includes five MAC regular season titles all while appearing in five NCAA Tournaments, six NITs and the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

Finally, the No.24-ranked baseball team is in Austin, Texas, where they will take on Texas State on Friday in regional play of the 2011 NCAA Championships.

With all the good things coming out of Kent recently, maybe Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee and athletic director Gene Smith should take a ride up from Columbus this summer and take some notes on how to run a clean program.

They could certainly use some help
.

A Win Changes (almost) Everything

While Sunday’s win doesn’t change everything for the Browns, it does change a lot.

The team is no longer part of the winless group of Detroit, Carolina, San Francisco and Buffalo. The win also validated that the Browns have been trending upward through the first quarter of the season, despite their 1-3 record.

The win should also help start the process of changing the perception about the team; just look at what wins have done for some of the other teams in the league:

  • The Redskins were pathetic Week 1 against Dallas, only gaining 250 yards of offense and putting up two field goals. But a defensive touchdown plus a meltdown by the Cowboys put Washington over the top and launched a multitude of stories about how Donovan McNabb and Mike Shanahan were “winners.”
  • The Falcons are sitting at 3-1, but if Garrett Hartley doesn’t shank a kick, and if Nate Clements wasn’t a me-first player, they would be 1-3 and fielding questions about what’s wrong.
  • Last week, Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio was supposedly on the “hot seat;” yesterday, Indianapolis drops an interception at the end of the game, Josh Scobee hits a 59-yard field goal, and suddenly the Jaguars are a game out of first place.

One win can change so many perceptions about the team, not just externally but internally as well. The players and coaches keep working every week and, after becoming the first team since the 1954 Packers to lose three games in a row when having a lead in the fourth quarter, finally holding one to a lead and winning a game rewards them for that work and hopefully will give the team confidence going forward.

And good for the coaches for resisting the urge to put Jake Delhomme back under center; giving him another week to heal his ankle was the right call and it would have been the right call even if the Browns had lost. Rushing him back and running the risk of losing him long-term wasn’t worth it.

Even though the Browns were only able to gain 3.3 yards per carry for the game, they were able to run the ball when it counted. After the Bengals scored to cut the lead to 23-20, the Browns went three and out following the usual strange play calling, but after the defense came up big and handed the ball back to the offense, the Browns – after the obligatory odd pass call – were able to run the ball and close out the game.

The biggest run of that final drive was a 24-yard rush around the right side by Peyton Hillis. That play showed what a huge upgrade Tony Pashos is over John St. Clair at right tackle.

So now the Browns – a team that is better than its record indicates – gets ready to face Atlanta – a team that may be worse than its record.

Dare we dream of a winning streak?

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