BEREA, Ohio--The Browns special teams have been anything but special this season.
However, in the 22-17 win over the Buccaneers at FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday they turned the game and the momentum to the Browns.
The special teams made two of the biggest plays in the game as Billy Winn broke through the middle of the line on Tampa Bay’s first possession and blocked a 31-yard attempt by Patrick Murray with 9:43 to play in the first quarter to keep the game scoreless.
Two plays later, Brian Hoyer found Taylor Gabriel wide open down the sideline for the game-winning touchdown to make the score 22-17.
The two plays helped lift the Browns to 5-3 at the midway point of the season. The Browns haven’t started 5-3 since the 2007 season, when they finished 10-6, but missed the playoffs.
“I thought (special teams) came up big,” Mike Pettine said. “That was a big momentum shift, too. They went right down the field on the first drive, and Billy made a heck of a play. Then the blocked punt, as well. I thought overall that that group played really well.”
Robertson credited teammate Tank Carder--who blocked a punt against the Titans earlier in the season--on the block.
“To be honest, it was all Tank,” he said. “I had the block, but Tank took out two guys and it made me free. That is a big credit to him and the whole team as a unit. It’s not one person. We do it as a team.”
The official stats counted Koenen’s kick as a one-yard punt as it went back the line of scrimmage.
Winn was back for his first game since missing three games with a quad injury.
“(The blocker) was lined up a little wide I knew right away what I was going to do,” Winn said. “I made the decision and my hand didn’t quite get to the long snapper, but I got one hand through and got my (hand on the ball).”
Robertson said Winn’s play got the special teams going.
“It was great to have (Winn) back,” he said. “He is very athletic and built to make plays like that. We see that all the time with Billy and it doesn’t surprise us at all.”
The two special team plays accounted for a 10-point swing and made a big difference in the outcome.
“We preach special teams all week long,” Winn said. “(Special team coach) Chris Tabor is the special teams guru and he sets us up for success and we always pull through for him.”
Robertson said the special team plays have a big impact on the outcome.
“We know that we have to find ways to make plays and give the team energy,” Robertson said. “If it is not on defense, then it is on special teams.
“It was nice because it shows that it takes the whole team to win games,” Robertson said. “We are showing to everybody that we are not just one-sided or two-sided. We are winning games as a team.”