Easy there big guy, take a breath. One game at a time.
For once it wasn’t all Derek Anderson and the flying receivers. The defense and especially the running game contributed to this win. Chud’s game plan was terrific in this one. I will admit that in the first half I was a bit skeptical. It seemed we were calling an awful lot of running plays without much to show for it. But those early running plays helped set the ground work for the pounding that was delivered in the second half.
Jamal Lewis was running downhill by the end of the game, finishing with 134 yards on 29 carries. Jason Wright provided a nice change of pace as well. The pair finished Houston off in the fourth quarter, as the Browns held the ball for roughly 11 minutes of the final quarter.
The defense rose to the occasion as well. Much has been, or will be written about rookie cornerback Brandon McDonald who was spectacular on Sunday. He covered Pro Bowl wide out Andre Johnson for most of the game, and absolutely shut him down. Before Sunday Johnson had played just three games due to injury, but in those 3 games he averaged just over 125 yards and scored at least 1 TD in each of his games. Against the Browns- 3 catches for 37 yards. McDonald sealed the win when he made a great read and jumped one of Johnson’s routes for an interception.
The rookie from Memphis was awarded a game ball for his effort. It was a performance that makes you wonder what kind of talent the Browns might have found in this draft. Certainly one game does not make McDonald a future pro-bowl player, but you can’t deny what he did. With fellow rookie Eric Wright already a starter, this could become a legendary draft for the Browns. Joe Thomas is already living up to the hype and expectations of a stud left tackle. If these two cornerbacks can become the foundation for the secondary, I’d say that is a spectacular draft, and we haven’t even seen Brady Quinn enter a game.
The Browns improve to 7-4 with the win. Next up for the Browns are the Arizona Cardinals, who lost a strange one to the 49ers yesterday. The Cardinals are 5-6, with wins over Seattle, Detroit, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The Browns will be favored in this game, as I imagine they will be for the rest of the regular season. Following the Cardinals game, the Browns play the Jets, Bills, Bengals and 49ers. There is no reason the Browns shouldn’t win all of those games, but reality is that at least one of these teams will trip up the Browns. Even if they manage just 3 wins in the final 5 games the Browns will finish 10-6, and certainly a wild-card spot will be theirs for the taking. Wow, can anyone remember a time when all of Cleveland’s teams were in the playoffs the same year? Certainly it hasn’t happened since the Cavs came into the league.