* The second quarter begins with a key stop on third down inside the Browns ten. As happy as I am with the stop, I'm unhappy with how the Browns lack of discipline put the Falcons in a position to score. I expect more from this defensive unit, particular with the number of veterans on the roster. The Browns are one of the older teams in the league, thanks to a number of vets on defense. They should know better. /End Rant
* It's nice to see flashes of Josh Cribbs' greatness these last two weeks. He busts a kickoff return to the Browns 44 after lurking behind Vickers. As long as teams have the nads to kick to him, he'll break off the occasional nice return.
* Wallace's re-discovery of his wide receivers is genuinely exciting on the team's first offensive drive. Wallace has a nice strong arm and is able to make a number of plays with his feet. His downside has been a tendency to instantly check down to the tight ends. Once Wallace starts spreading the ball around more, the Browns passing attack suddenly comes to life. Massaquio, 14 yards, Stuckey, 18 yards, Massaquoi incomplete, Watson five yards, Hillis 19 yards touchdown. That will give the Steelers something to worry about as they watch film this week.
* Wallace so far is 8-10, 97 yards, 1TD, no picks, 140.4 passer rating. Out-freaking-standing.
* After the Browns kick off, once again Nick Sorensen is the insane special teams missile, nailing Weems at the 18 on the return. Weems will be happy to leave Cleveland.
* Falcons drive: The strength of Micheal Turner's legs is shown when they get the ball back, as he drags Ahtybe Rubin, who has ahold of his ankle. Moving Rubin any distance at all is an amazing feat of strength. Matt Ryan finds Roddy White again as he drops very, very deep. Two plays later, Eric Barton nails Ryan as he drops back just a couple of steps. Look for Ryan to start dropping deeper to get more time against the Browns rush.
* You have to give Matt Ryan credit for bounding away from a sack on third down, and then throwing the ball completely across the field to Tony Gonzalez. He paid for it by getting clobbered by Benard but, wow, what a play. That's why you pick a quarterback at the top of the draft.
* Browns red zone defense continues to be very good as the secondary is dealing well with the short field and forcing Ryan to toss the ball away. Very impressed with how the Browns secondary has bounced back after two bad weeks. Of course, all it takes is a play or two for them to make me regret those comments.
* As the Browns start a drive with about five minutes left in half, two things are worrying me. First, how the Falcons have been taking little shots after the whistle and getting the Browns defense to react to it in ways that create penalties. There's going to be chippiness all day unless the officiating crew cuts back on the extra-curriculars. Secondly, as effective as the Browns last drive was, the team has only 15 yards on the ground to this point. That throws the time of possession battle to the Falcons in a big way, and the TV is showing Browns defenders sucking wind on the sidelines. Not a good sign. The Browns are winning 7-6, but some trends in this game are not favorable.
* The Browns manage to take a second and one and turn it into a fourth and seven, thanks in part to a false start by Watson. Per the radio, it seems like the Falcons are barking out fake cadences and getting Browns offensive linemen to jump.
* When the Falcons get the ball back, we again see the Browns defensive backs trying to arm tackle Turner above the waist. Oddly, it doesn't work. Elam showed good hustle tracking down Turner downfield, but already had his hands on him 30 yards further upfield. Again, these things, being fooled by cadences, getting called for emotional penalties, arm tackling on strong running backs, these are the little mistakes that kill a team that doesn't have overwhelming talent. It doesn't paint the Browns coaching staff in a good light.
* For future reference, when an allergy medication says "no drowsiness formula", what it means is "no effectiveness formula". At least based on my experience this afternoon. I must be allergic to losing the time of possession battle.
* Roth levels Jason Snelling on a shovel pass on third and ten from the Browns 12. Roth keeps showing up inside the 20.
* I have a man crush on TJ Ward. And he was sitting by me in the radio studio just a few weeks ago (heavy fat guy football geeking siiiigh)
* I love the Browns aggressiveness on their final set of downs after the block. Wallace previously moved the team 50 yards in less than two minutes, and Mangini/Daboll are giving him a chance to do it again.
* I guess it means something that I get really worried as Seneca Wallace hops off the field. Delhomme comes in and it worries me that a drop-back passer is going to go up against the a young, quick Falcons front seven. Our first two quarterbacks are on injured sticks and Colt McCoy is looking a bit nervous.
Despite the various Falcons drives, we go into halftime with a 7-6 lead. Fred and I have been talking on the radio show since before the beginning of the year about how the Browns will "steal" one of these games during this tough stretch. This could be it. To get there, the Browns absolutely need to return to a ball control offense behind Hillis, or the fourth quarter might get ugly.