Browns Deep in Playoff
"Gumbo" with convincing win against Saints
Starting the game with an onside kick
and ending with a Tim Couch kneel down, the Browns saw a
bit of everything in between and put themselves in the
thick of the playoff race with a 24-15 win in New
The Saints, riding high with a 7-3
record, and only one game behind division rival Tampa
Bay, were purported to be a stiff test for the
young Browns, but it was the Browns who proved to be the
team that bent but didn't break.
The Browns (6-5) stifled Aaron Brooks
passing all day, causing the prolific passer to throw 3
interceptions and lose 1 fumble. The Browns
defense, certainly aided by the fast track of artificial
turf at the Superdome, kept Brooks in motion for much of
the game, and forcing him into several bad decisions.
The Saints had a total of six turnovers.
Early on, special teamer and
linebacker Brant Boyer put a lick on Saint wide receiver
Jeremy Pathon that really set the tone for the game
( Pathon, suffered a slight concussion on the play). I
have rarely seen such a vicious, yet clean hit. It was
one for the highlight reel.
For the second straight week, Running
Back William Green set the Browns rushing attack in fast
forward with 114 yds on 28 carries. It marked the young ball carriers
first 100yd+ rushing game of his pro career. Once again,
Green used his considerable speed to bounce outside and
gain huge chunks of yardage. His efforts also netted him
the second TD of this his rookie campaign on a one yard
plunge in the second quarter. Coach Butch Davis pick of
Green with the 16th pick in the first round is starting
to show some wisdom. If Green continues to run as he has
the last two weeks, the Browns long search for a
legitimate running game could be over.
Dennis Northcutt also had another
superlative day, catching three balls for 68 yds. and
taking a handoff from Couch and sprinting up the middle
on a draw play that netted 36 more yds. and a TD. Its
hard to believe that this player was on the very verge
of being cut at the onset of the season.
Cleveland's Defense had a terrific day
especially in the "Red Zone". The Saints found
themselves inside the Browns 20 yd. line four times in
the first half, but came away with only six points on
two field goals.
Clinging to their halftime lead, the
Browns gave up a 17 yd. TD to James Fenderson, but
then Couch came out and found Kevin Johnson open on a 24
yd. pass and catch for another TD.
Overall the Defense of the Browns
played well, bending but not breaking, especially when
they needed it most. Robert Griffith had seven tackles
and one assist to lead the Browns and Mark Word grabbed
yet another sack giving him 7 to lead the Browns in that
The Browns Offense came up with the
big play when they needed to, and Tim Couch once again
showed his resolve and toughness, often taking a big hit
but completing passes for big gains. He was 12-21 for
182yds. and a TD.
So, its down to the last five games of
the regular season and the Browns need to keep winning
to give themselves a chance for the playoffs. Division
leading Pittsburgh got a scare but survived the Bengals
29-21, so the Browns need a good performance at home
next Sunday against Carolina (which lost today 41-0) to
set themselves on their way. A letdown now could spell