High Winds of Fate Can't Excuse QB's Woes - Bud Shaw, Cleveland Plain Dealer
But the flip side where Anderson is concerned is that this kind of game is simply in his nature, why he was a sixth-round pick. There’s as much reason to believe this is part of the overall Anderson package as there is to believe it’s a simple matter of his relative inexperience. “If it were a sunny day and the conditions were perfect and he threw four interceptions, I’d have more reason to be concerned,” Crennel said.
Easy Call: Give Jamal the Ball - Terry Pluto, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Even the best offensive coordinators make a bad call, and Rob Chudzinski did just that at the end of the first half. The Browns were behind, 13-0. Quarterback Derek Anderson had just thrown an interception to set up a Cincinnati TD. With 57 seconds left, the Browns had the ball on their own 20. The Browns had no timeouts and the 29-mph wind was howling. Anderson had already thrown one interception, and was very shaky and short on several other passes. The smart play was run Jamal Lewis a few times, then go into the dressing room and get warm. Instead, Chudzinski called a pass and Leon Hall picked it off. That set up another Bengals TD, making it 19-0 at the half.
Coach Romeo Crennel defended the decision,
saying his team has been "good in the two-minute offense." But not on a windy, 31-degree day when the quarterback's touch was colder than the shivering fans in the stands. Not when you are 80 yards from the end zone, when the wind made every field goal an adventure. And especially not when you have zero time outs. Chudzinski and Anderson have turned the Browns into a high-octane team with bold play-calling and throwing downfield. But this time, that should have been tempered. And it's a lot easier playing from behind at 13-0 as compared to 19-0.
Can't Wrap it Up - Tony Grossi, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Playoff teams don't fall behind, 19-0, to a team going nowhere. They don't let their quarterback throw four interceptions on a day with wind gusts up to 30 mph. They don't let a backup running back walk over them for 130 yards rushing. They don't come out flat.
Guard Eric Steinbach said he was shocked by the Browns' weak start to the game. "I believe if we would have come out right away and put it away early, we could've ran with that," he said. "We just let them dictate. They said all week they wanted to be the spoilers, and that's what they did."
The Lost Chance Can Also Provide an Opportunity to Grow - Marla Ridenour, Akron Beacon-Journal
Even if the young Browns are listening to Lewis and Jurevicius and Willie McGinest, the elders may be wasting their breath. They could talk all week about fast starts and more focus and accepting the challenge to no avail. There is no magic potion for maturity.
Perhaps that's why coach Romeo Crennel has been such a stoic on the sideline. What good will ranting and raving and throwing his headset do? As New England's defensive coordinator, he was famous for his ''RAC attacks.'' In his three years in Cleveland, that phrase never has come up, probably because he believes the method won't work here.
Crennel has seen dramatic improvement. His young charges won only four games a year ago. The Browns may be playoff-starved, but force-feeding won't work. Their inconsistency might be maddening but probably is expected.
Browns Baffled ABout Playoff Picture After Loss in Cinci - Gregg Doyle, CBS Sportsline
In a way, the Browns' focus was startlingly impressive. Coach Romeo Crennel told his team all week not to worry about what was happening, or what needed to be happening, anywhere else in the league. He told his team to focus on beating the Bengals, and only that. His players apparently did just that. That's focus.
Unfortunately for the Browns, that focus didn't carry over to the field. Quarterback Derek Anderson looked more like the fringe roster player he was in the preseason than the Pro Bowl alternate he has become. He threw four awful interceptions, including two in the final 75 seconds of the first half, deep in Cleveland territory, that led to Cincinnati touchdowns. Instead of going into the break down 6-0, the Browns trailed 19-0.
"That right there was the game," Anderson said.
Monday Morning QB - Peter King, Sports Illustrated
The Fine Fifteen: 11. Cleveland (9-6). Scary game by Derek Anderson, who looked nothing like the top-10 quarterback he's played like for 80 percent of this season. Not a good time for him to be forcing, aiming and underthrowing receivers.
Quote of the Week I
"Peyton won't play the whole game. [Backup quarterback Jim] Sorgi will get at least a half. It's unfortunate the way the schedule falls. We have to look at what is best for us, and that's how we're going to approach the final game.''
-- Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy, who says he will do what's best for his team, and not what other coaches, fans and players might want him to do, in the final game of the season. Dungy will likely rest some starters for most, if not all of the game. Tennessee, the Colts' foe on Sunday, will make the playoffs with a win. Which brings us to ...
Quote of the Week II
"It's not up to the Indianapolis Colts to do us any favors. They've played well enough to deserve the right to play who they want this week. Kudos to them. We'd like Peyton to play four quarters, obviously, but we understand what they're doing.''
-- Cleveland linebacker Willie McGinest, who told me Sunday night he didn't hold it against the Colts for easing up on the gas in their final (and meaningless) regular-season game, and he didn't think his teammates would either.
Stat of the Week
When you look at the difference between the AFC North's top two teams, Pittsburgh and Cleveland, I bring you one word: sacks. It's amazing the teams are sitting a game apart entering the final week with such a huge disparity in how they protect the quarterback.
Last year the Browns allowed 54 sacks, third-most in the league. This year they've allowed 17, second-fewest in the league. In Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger has been dropped almost four times per game in 14 games.
Cleveland's amazing turnaround can be traced to two major factors: the addition of Joe Thomas at left tackle and Eric Steinbach at left guard. The duo has solidified a leaky side of the line that not only has kept Anderson clean, but also helped Jamal Lewis be great again. In addition, free-agent vet Steinbach has been the smart and loose leader this line lacked. For his part, Anderson has gotten rid of the ball on time and in rhythm.
Here's Yer Payback - Mark Curnutte, Cincinnati Enquirer
Ndukwe would intercept Anderson in the end zone in the second half to snuff Cleveland's first-and-goal play from the Cincinnati 9-yard line. Second-year cornerback Johnathan also intercepted Anderson on a first-and-10 play from the Bengals 17-yard line midway through the fourth quarter.
The Browns had four fourth-quarter possessions inside the Bengals 29-yard line and scored just one touchdown.
Ndukwe and fellow rookie safety Marvin White started because of injuries to strong safety Dexter Jackson (hip) and Madieu Williams (thigh) that occurred within 10 minutes in practice Thursday.