Another Dandy Defensive Performance

Despite the offense struggling until a late game drive turned the tables, it was yet another solid defensive effort that solidified an improbable Browns win.

CLEVELAND — With 3 minutes, 23 seconds left in the game, the Cleveland Browns offense took over at their own 20-yard line trailing 16-10 to the visiting Miami Dolphins.

The Browns offense was in a position to at least attempt a come-from-behind victory and they were in that position because of the defense.

Thirteen plays, 80 yards and a 14-yard touchdown pass later, the Browns defense returned to the field with a one-point lead. Miami needed a field goal for the win and began positions on the Browns' 47-yard line.

"When we have our backs against the wall, we buckle up and we don't let things affect us," T.J. Ward said. "We stay the course, whatever the offense is doing. I got to give credit to (defensive coordinator) Dick Jauron and (defensive backs coach) Jerome Henderson motivate us and talk us through those situations."

Miami needed around 10 yards in that final position for strong-legged kicker Dan Carpenter to at least attempt a game-winning field goal. Three incomplete passes and an interception on fourth down sealed the Browns improbable win.

"Defensively they battled," Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. "They did some things you need to do when we weren't quite clicking offensively. Give the defense credit. To stop Miami after giving them 30 yards in penalties, that's great stuff."

Great playmakers are developing on that Browns defense, which finished with five sacks, six tackles for loss, eight quarterback hits, five passes defended and one forced fumble. Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne finished 19-for-29 passing for 255 yards with one touchdown and one interception. On the ground, the Dolphins rushed for 138 yards on 38 carries for a 3.6 yards per carry average.

"Miami has some explosive running backs," Shurmur said. "You give them a crease or get to the second or third level and they can score. We got a nice rotation on our defensive line in there with the whole roster and they played well."

Jabaal Sheard once again put pressure on the quarterback when it matters. Sheard was lined up against Miami right tackle Marc Columbo in the game's final series. It was Sheard's pressure that forced the three consecutive Henne incompletion in the game's final seconds.

"I studied the filmy and learned things on him this week," Sheard said. "As we went through the game, I kept switching up things on him and it worked a little bit." "(The defensive line) has played great all year," Ward said. "It makes it easy that we don't have to cover as long, but it's also vice versa. We cover well and they have the opportunity to get to the quarterback."

Cornerback Joe Haden blanketed Miami's No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall all game long. Marshall finished with four catches for 43 yards and he was targeted seven times.

"I knew (Marshall) could play," Shurmur said. "He lined up in front of me one play and he's a big, good-looking guy. Up close and personal, he's got a little height on Joe, but Joe battled and did a nice job."

Through three games, the Browns defense is doing a "nice job." Miami reached the red zone three times on Sunday and were forced to kick two field goals. Remember the score when the Browns began that final drive? Six points. The Browns are 2-1 and it is the defense that can receive a lot of the credit.


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