Monday, December 17, 2007

Get Your Browns Links Heeeeeeeeeeeeeerre

Because of the great weather, we were treated to a ton of great national columns and articles, and even better pictures. Seeing the highlights in HD, I still couldn't believe I was there. one of my friends who didn't go told me "I was going to go, but I misplaced my ball-sack warmer." Hilarious. I'll say this, yesterday wasn't for everybody. Anyways, lets get to the guts of it. Each column will be linked, followed by a highlight or two from the author.

No Snow Job: Browns Finally Catch Steelers - John Clayton,

And how crazy was this game?

• A blizzard blew into Cleveland Browns Stadium an hour before the game's start. Winds gusted to 43 mph. More than two inches of snow covered the field and blew into the players' faces for three hours.

• Umpire Jeff Rice could not, on one occassion, find the 50-yard line to spot the ball.

• The Browns, who had been allowing 28.2 points per game, allowed none.

• The last time there was an 8-0 final score in the NFL was Nov. 10, 1929, when the Chicago Cardinals beat the Minnesota Red Jackets.

• Statisticians in the press box could not get word to the field officials that they misplaced a spot 2 yards ahead of the line of scrimmage. No problem; it wasn't much of a stats game anyway. The teams combined for no touchdowns and 536 yards of total offense. The only scores came on a safety and a pair of
Phil Dawson field goals, including a 49-yarder that hit the extended crossbar.

Scouts Buzz Week 15 - Ken Moll,

Buffalo and Cleveland might both be cold weather teams, but even they couldn’t have expected this. Battling gusting wind and a constant snow that even seemed to come sideways sometimes, the Browns simply made more plays when it counted. The Cleveland special teams were outstanding, with veteran K Phil Dawson making a pair of field goals in very difficult situations. But the biggest key was the Browns’ rushing attack. Cleveland set the tone early and was very physical. Jamal Lewis was impressive, running well behind a physical offensive line in the Browns’ power zone scheme. Cleveland used a good mixture of the run and pass in the first half, but as the weather worsened, the Browns relied almost exclusively on Lewis and the ground attack in the second half to salt the victory away.

Monday Morning QB - Peter King, (go to pages 3 and 4)

Jamal Lewis is rescuing Cleveland. Last January, when Lewis had minor ankle surgery to clean out some bone spurs, the doctor told him he'd be surprised at how good his range of motion in the ankle would be. And last night, after his 14th game on the new wheel, Lewis said he hasn't felt this good this late in a season in years. "No pain,'' he said. "I couldn't be happier with the way I feel.''

And he's running like a spry Jerome Bettis. Cleveland needed a big body in Sunday's snowstorm, and Lewis gave them 33 carries for 163 yards. Irony of the day: Before the game, Willie McGinest and Lewis were in the trainers' room, getting ready to go out, and McGinest said, "This reminds me exactly of the night we played Oakland in that snow game in the playoffs with the Patriots.'' And this one ended almost the same way, with an unlikely 49-yard field goal by Phil Dawson through a gale, the same way Adam Vinatieri kicked a field goal through a snowstorm against the Raiders.

"I've never played in a game like that,'' said Lewis. "It was fun, though. At one point, I got tackled and I got snow and dirt, kind of smashed together, all up in my facemask.''

I remember going to Cleveland last summer and seeing Lewis running like he had new legs, and listening to him say what a great year he thought he was going to have. When I
wrote that, there were smirks and a bunch of you-gullible-idiot looks from peers in the business. The '07 number: 251 carries, 1,084 yards, nine touchdowns, with a couple of Bettis-like piggyback carries of defenders.

"I knew,'' he said. "I said at the end of last year that if the Ravens wanted to go back to the playoffs, they'd re-sign me, and they chose not to. I knew Cleveland made the right decision. And I knew we'd be good. I saw it in camp.''

Cleveland's Meal Ticket - Jason Cole, Yahoo Sports

Here's another twist to what Lewis has done in his first year with Cleveland after being discarded by Baltimore: He's a leader and a calming influence. Yes, a guy who once played the role of distraction after getting in trouble with the federal government for drug trafficking is now a mentor to this up-and-coming team.

"Jamal is unbelievable," said wide receiver Joe Jurevicius, one of the Browns' lunch-pail types who augments the superior talent of Lewis, tight end Kellen Winslow and wide receiver Braylon Edwards. "For anybody who said that he didn't have anything left in the tank, they need to check themselves. … He has been instrumental to what we're doing here."

That's certainly the case from a statistical standpoint. Lewis has topped 90 yards in four of the last five games, all of those performances leading to victories. On Sunday, he was especially important as the game wore on.

Dawson Gets Kicks out of Browns Victory - Bud Shaw, Cleveland Plain Dealer

The rule Dawson and specialists live by is never give the goal posts away. Keep the kick inside the uprights.

Sounds easy. But that approach wasn't going to work on a day when the gusts reached 40-plus miles an hour.

Try aiming the ball to miss. That's what Dawson had to do. It requires a big foot and bigger nerve.

Twice, Dawson was the golfer starting a shot over water and praying he calculated the wind correctly. One 35-yard draw and a 49-yard fade later, he'd accounted for six of the Browns' points in an 8-0 win they desperately needed.

The usual game-day routine that put him on the field to survey the conditions mid-morning had severe limitations. Sunday morning was beach weather compared to the afternoon.

"The one thing I learned being here so long is that going out there at 9:30 on Sunday morning prepares you for 9:30 on Sunday morning," Dawson said.

Blizzard-Like Game Warms Browns Fans Hearts - Terry Pluto, Cleveland Plain Dealer

If you were at Cleveland Browns Stadium on this gray day of dropping temperatures . . .
Of whirling winds . . .

Of blizzard warnings . . .

Of chattering teeth and slushy seats . . .

You'll never forget what your team did to raise its record to 9-5 and stay in the playoff race.

You'll never forget how you chanted HERE WE GO BROWNIES, HERE WE GO . . . WOOF, WOOF! in that final, freezing minute when Buffalo was slogging through the snow near the end zone. You'll never forget how your team held the line, how Buffalo receiver Lee Evans caught a pass at the Cleveland 10 and was stopped cold by Chaun Thompson and Sean Jones.
Then came the celebratory snowballs!

Browns Let it Snow - Patrick McManamon, Akron Beacon-Journal

Conditions were so miserable, you had to wonder if this game might not have been better moved to Sunday or Monday night.

Cleveland fans like to prove their mettle, and every one of them who showed up in Sunday's wind and snow deserves some special honor.

So, too, for many of the Browns players, who rose to the occasion in a game they needed, on a day when conditions might have prompted more worry about the weather than the game plan.

Start with Jamal Lewis, who gained 163 yards, his third 100-yard game in the last four, which means he is coming through when histeam needs him the most.

''It was fun,'' he said.

Bills Blame Themselves For Painful Defeat - Mark Gaughan, Buffalo News

“It was a disappointing game for us,” said (Bills coach Dick) Jauron. “I tip my hat to them. They made more plays than we did. I thought our young guys performed pretty well in these conditions and a lot of them have never been in it before. We just made a few too many errors.”

It was arguably the worst weather for a Bills game since a 2001 game against New England that was played in a blizzard at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

“I don’t remember one quite this bad,” Jauron said. “This game, with the rain and the snow on the field, you didn’t know what yard line you were on most of the time. This is the worst I can recall ever being involved in.”

Visitors Never Found Their Footing on Tundra - Jerry Sullivan, Buffalo News

Early in the game, while straining to see the game through the foggy windows in the Cleveland Browns Stadium press box, I looked up at the video board high above the end zone for an unobscured view and caught a glimpse of the field, which was blanketed in white.

Seen from that perspective, it reminded me of a hockey rink. Suddenly, it struck me that this was what our outdoor hockey game might look like in Ralph Wilson Stadium a couple of weeks from now. It seemed less like an NFL game than a traditional winter sport, being played in a football stadium as a curiosity for the masses.

We've seen our share of wild weather in Buffalo. It's part of our sporting identity. But in 19 years covering the Bills, I can't recall a game like this, where persistent snow and swirling winds, whipping as high as 43 mph, conspired in such a dastardly fashion.

Again, that's part of football. But when you consider all the circumstances — two rising young AFC teams from rival Lake Erie cities, in a hotly anticipated game with playoff implications — it's too bad they couldn't have played it in more favorable conditions.

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