At the beginning of the year, I placed a bet with this guy I know. After seeing what I saw in the preseason, I took 6-10 and below, he took 7-9 and above. I thought this was the absolute lock of the century. TE Kellen Winslow knew better. "I told you we were going to turn some heads" he said after the 27-17 win down at the Lakefront. I was there. It was cold. The crowd was great. The defense actually showed up. It was almost like the old days. We've got ourselves a legitimate playoff contender here in Cleveland, and I still can't believe it.
Kellen Winslow is an absolute stud. You can have Antonio Gates, give me K2 all day long. He may have the best hands in the NFL. Every single time the ball is thrown to him, he is seemingly double-covered and he gets drilled. He is playing with a partially torn shoulder and a bad knee, yet every week he gets 100 yards receiving and makes big catches. Today was no different as he caught 10 for 107 and a TD.
Give the Defense the nod. As bad as they have been all season, to hold the high-powered Texans passing attack to 17 points is a feat. With a healthy Andre Johnson at WR, they had their full arsenal working, yet Johnson only had three catches for 37 yards. The Browns defense forced three turnovers and they needed all of them. This was the epitome of bend but don't break. Rookie Nickel back Brandon McDonald seemingly was everywhere when they needed him.
I can sit and praise the D, but they are still way below average. There was still no pass rush, the middle of the field was wide open the entire first half and QB Matt Schaub exploited it. Kamerion Wimbley continues to regress. My Uncle who I sit next to at every game calls him a "fly weight." He cannot handle a double team and is easily getting pushed outside. Leigh Bodden gets burnt way too often for you #1 corner back. Willie McGinest is probably great in the locker room, but he is finished on the field. No speed. None. The middle of that D-line is as bad as it gets. All of this is going on defensively, yet somehow, the Browns keep winning and are now 7-4.
Jamal Lewis ran for his contract yesterday. The game plan looked as though it was to pound the Texans early and often and wear them down so the Browns Big O-line could take over in the fourth quarter. While there were some curious play calls (Jason Wright up the middle on 4th and 1?, Vickers up the middle on 4th and 1?), Lewis got stronger as the game wore on. He finished with 132 yards on 4.6 per carry with a touchdown. He ran hard all game long and opened up the field for Derek Anderson. I still think RB is the most overrated position in football and I wouldn't give Lewis a long-term deal next year, but he doesn't look finished the way the Ravens thought he did.
Joe Jurevicius - I love that man. Seriously, how glad are you that this guy plays for our team? Every team needs a WR like Joe. He runs precise routes, never drops passes, and is an excellent blocker. While his numbers weren't spectacular (5 catches for 55 yards), but his effect on the field cannot be measure by numbers. Give me a team of 53 guys like Joe and you'd never lose. The guy is all heart.
Derek Anderson got it done. DA didn't have his best day - he was high and wide on several throws - but when he needed it, his big arm showed up and he threaded the needle. On two of his TD passes, i thought once the ball left his hand he was crazy. The first being the Braylon Edwards TD. It looked as though DA was throwing into triple coverage and the next thing you know, Braylon showed up right between the three defenders and fell into the endzone. Winslow's TD was a pass only a handful of QB's can make. It was from seven yards out and K2 wedged himself between two defenders. DA shot a cannon that Winslow snagged for the TD. A weak armed QB gets that pass picked off. The Browns are no 7-3 with Anderson as starter and have won five straight at home. Unreal.
Defense Now Complementing the Rest of the Team - Terry Pluto, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Anderson's Passing Gives Lewis Freedom to Run - Bill Livingston, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Smashmouth - Tony Grossi, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Lewis Wins Respect and Proves Worth to Browns - Patrick McManamon, Akron Beacon-Journal
Winslow Battered but not Beaten - Marla Ridenour, Akron Beacon-Journal