CLEVELAND—When Colt McCoy hit Mohamed Massaquoi in the back of the end zone with 43 seconds to play to give the Browns a 17-16 lead, it looked as though the Browns had just sealed their second win of the season.
To make matters worse, Dawson's kick was fielded at the 11 by Clyde Gates, who returned it 27 yards to the Dolphins' 38. Dimitri Patterson tackled Gates, but was flagged for a ‘Horse Collar' tackle and after 15 yards more being tacked on, the Dolphins started at the Browns' 47.
"We can't spot them 30 yards when they only need a field goal," Pat Shurmur said. "It's not acceptable.
"With that being said, the defense did a tremendous job from play to play."
Patterson, who had three tackles and a pass broken up said the Browns showed their resiliency.
"It was tough, but we showed who we are," Patterson said. "We had a mindset to stop them."
Mike Adams, who intercepted Chad Henne at the Browns' 36 with 13 seconds to play, said defensive coordinator Dick Jauron and staff said the Browns couldn't let the Dolphins get to the Browns' 37, Dolphins' kicker Dan Carpenter's field goal range.
"The defense has to come up big when you spot them 30 yards," Adams said. "For them, to throw four-straight incomplete passes is huge."
Adams finished with two tackles, a pass broken up and the Browns' only interception.
Joe Haden, who had four tackles and a pass broken up, said the defensive backs took it upon themselves at that point.
"We knew that we had to play to our best ability," Haden said. "We could not give up an inch so basically everybody just gutted up and did their job. The d-line was putting pressure on (Henne) sacking him and hitting him the whole game and the DB's, we just weren't giving them any room."
On fourth down, Henne tried to go to the Dolphins' go to receiver, Brandon Marshall.
"They ran the same play previously," Adams said. "I saw Brandon Marshall coming across the middle and I read the quarterback's eyes."
Adams said he heard from the sideline after the interception.
"Everybody was yelling at me to get down."
After he went down, Colt McCoy and the offense formed the victory formation.
Throughout the game, the defense put pressure on Henne with five sacks and eight hurries. D'Qwell Jackson led the Browns with 11 tackles, a half sack and a fumble recovery.
For the second consecutive week, the defense held the opponent to just one touchdown.
Hillis Out; Hardesty Steps Up:
"In the running back room, when one guy is down the others have to step up," Hardesty said. "I've been waiting my whole life get this chance."
It was Hardesty's first NFL start.
Hardesty carried the ball 14 times for 67 yards (4.8 avg.) with a long of 19 yards. He also caught three passes for 19 yards, including a 10-yard pass from QB Colt McCoy on fourth-and-4 on the Browns' winning touchdown drive.
"I wanted to help the team get a win and do my part," he said. "It's the only way I know how to play."
McCoy said Hardesty wanted the ball in the huddle.
"Montario played great," McCoy said. "We thought Peyton was going to play earlier (today), but Montario stepped up and was huge for us."
Hillis showed up at Browns Stadium Sunday morning, but then ended up going back home after is was determined that he would be held out due to strep throat.
Hardesty had an 19-yard run on the first drive of the second half for his longest run of the game.
Cribbs Spark: For the third-straight game, WR/KR Josh Cribbs provided a spark to the offense.
Against the Bengals and Colts, Cribbs did it with kickoff returns prior to the Browns touchdowns.Limited with a groin injury, Cribbs made a leaping catch in the end zone to complete a 33-yard touchdown on a pass from QB Colt McCoy. Cribbs went up and snatched the pass in the back of the end zone over CB Sean Smith.
Cribbs had three receptions for 49 yards, including the touchdown. Cribbs caught a 12-yard slant to start the second-half scoring drive that tied the game at 10-10.
"I believe that it (jumping high with an injured leg) just happened," Cribbs said. "The ball was in the air and I made a play on it. I feel like I am an athlete and I should have made that play. Big athletes make those plays when everyone is counting on them. You saw how Mohamed (Massaquoi) made that play."
MoMass Day: WR Mohamed Massaquoi had just two catches for 26, but one was for a 14-yard touchdown to win the game. Massaquoi injured his ankle this week, but played.
"The whole team responded (to the challenge) and made big plays to get down the field," Massaquoi said. "The line did a great job protecting and Colt (McCoy) threw a great ball."
Big Ben: Watson had two receptions to start the second half of 17- and 14-yards. He had two catches for 28 yards in the first half and finished with five for 64 yards to lead the Browns.
Dawson Passes Cockroft: K Phil Dawson moved into second place on the all-time leading scorers for the Browns on a 30-yard field goal with 10:37 left to play in the third quarter. Dawson passed K Don Cockroft (1080) with 1081 and finished the game with 1082 after kicking the game-winning PAT.
Jayme's Play: With the Dolphins' driving at the Browns' 22, DE Jayme Mitchell hit RB Reggie Bush, causing him to fumble and LB D'Qwell Jackson recovered at the Browns' 19. Mitchell sacked Henne in the second quarter by himself and then combined with LB Chris Gocong for an 8-yard loss. Mitchell finished with four tackles, including 1 ½ sacks, a pass broken up and a forced fumble.
Sack Attack: The Browns had five sacks. Besides Mitchell's 1 ½ sacks, LB D'Qwell Jackson and DL Ahtyba Rubin combined to sack Henne in the third quarter, as did DL Phil Taylor. Rubin had a sack in the fourth quarter.
Big Play: On third-and-12, Henne was under pressure in his own end zone and barely got out of the end zone, but DL Jabaal Sheard hit Henne in the face mask and was flagged with a personal foul. It moved the Dolphins from the 5 to the 20, but more importantly gave them a first down, instead of punting from their end zone. The Dolphins then moved to the Browns' five before settling for a field goal to take a 13-10 lead with 2:29 to play in the third quarter.
Big Play 2: DL Phil Taylor hit Henne late on the Dolphins' drive that put them ahead 16-10. The penalty moved the ball from the Browns' 40 to the 25. The drive stalled at the 20 and K Dan Carpenter hit a 38-yard field goal.
Stephens Debut: DL Emmanuel Stephens made his debut with the Browns and was credited with a tackle as he tagged RB Reggie Bush after fumbled in the backfield. He finished with two tackles.
Colt's Start: On the sixth play of the first drive, McCoy threw an interception to CB Jimmy Wilson, who returned it five yards to the Browns' 43. Four players later, the Dolphins took a 7-0 lead as QB Chad Henne hit RB Daniel Thomas for a 10-yard touchdown pass. On third-and-10 in the first quarter, McCoy overthrew WR Josh Cribbs by about 10 yards as Cribbs had broken open on a deep route.
McCoy was just 5-of-14 for 73 yards in the first half with a touchdown and an interception for a rating of 47.6. In the second half.
McCoy and the offense picked it up, including the game-winning drive when McCoy was 9-of-13 for 76 yards, including the touchdown.
He finished 19-of-39 for 210 yards with two touchdowns and one interception with a rating of 71.5.
Norwood Returns: WR Jordan Norwood returned punts in place of WR/KR Josh Cribbs, who played with a groin injury. DB Buster Skrine was deep for kickoffs in place of Cribbs. Norwood had one return for six yards.Skrine had one return for 23 yards.
Pashos Out: Despite practicing this week, RT Tony Pashos was inactive and Artis Hicks started in his place.
Inactive: Besides Hillis inactive, the others for the Browns were: OL Tony Pashos, QB Thaddeus Lewis, DB Eric Hagg, LB Titus Brown, OL Steve Vallos and TE Jordan Cameron. WR Carlton Mitchell was active for the first time.
Deleone, Costello Inducted: Former Browns OL Tom DeLeone and LB Vince Costello were inducted into the Browns Legends Club. Costello played from 1957-66 and was a part of the last Browns championship in 1964.
DeLeone played from 1974-84 and was part of the Kardiac Kids era.