After just five games, the young Browns are hurting bad. The offense has been riddled by injury--lost for the year are Errict Rhett, Jim Pyne, and JaJuan Dawson. Tim Couch is nursing a twisted knee, and Marc Edwards plays like he's lost a couple of fingers in a farm machinery accident. The veteran FB put the ball on the ground twice during the Ravens game.
But the Arizona Cardinals are a fallen franchise. Bill Bidwell and crew squandered a brief football renaissance in Phoenix. Jake Plummer is a wreck, rookie RB Thomas Jones has been sent to the bench, and a once-dominant defensive line is among the worst in the league.
So it's no surprise that the Browns score early and often in their desert showdown. Despite on-field temperatures just below the melting point of lead, the Browns athletic offensive line has its way with Zona's defensive front. A parade of rookie running backs--Travis Prentice, Jamel White, Rashon Spikes--rumble through huge holes as the Browns ring up nearly 450 yards rushing on the ground. The floodgates really come open in the second quarter, after Tarek Saleh lays a crushing block on Simeon Rice that puts the star DE out for the second half.
One thing is certain, no one's talking about KJ's slow start anymore. The second-year WR runs wild in the Cardinal's secondary, scoring four TDs and gaining 223 yards. David Patten adds a TD of his own and gains 180 yards on just two catches. By the third quarter, the Browns are up 293 to -28, Tim Couch has completed all 28 of his passes, and Dennis Northcutt has scored three times on successive punt returns.
On defense, the Browns dismantle the Cards' inept offense. Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman (remember him?) bungles the play calling and puts franchise QB Jake Plummer in peril. In a remarkable series, Courtney Brown sacks Plummer on five successive Cardinal plays, finally forcing him out of the game with a concussion. When coach Vince Tobin tries to send in Dave Brown, the backup QB retires on the spot rather than face the Browns pass rush. Enter a guy named Chris Greisen, who hails from a compass point college in Missouri and has completed exactly one pass for four yards in his two year career. Three plays later, Greisen is out with a twisted knee.
Tobin looks around for someone--anyone--to take snaps, but he doesn't have to. The fans have seen enough. The county holds a public referendum at halftime and votes the Cardinals out of town. Mid-way through the fourth quarter, Arizona governor Jane Dee Hull hands Bidwell an eviction notice, padlocks the locker room, and has the team escorted off the grounds. Next year, they'll be playing in L.A.
Final score? Browns 378, Cards -55
And that's the way I see it. GMD