Game Notes: Patchwork Line Gets It Done

There was a lot of the unexpected against the Bengals on Sunday, but the offensive line was a good surprise. Here's Mike with his Game Notes, including updates on injuries and a sideline confrontation.<BR>

CINCINNATI – Browns quarterback Kelly Holcomb had some doubts about how the patchwork offensive line would perform against Bengals, but his concerns proved unfounded.

The line gave Holcomb excellent protection for most of the game. He was sacked three times, but on most of his 39 pass attempts he had time to make decisions.

"You think about that," Holcomb replied when asked if he had a lot of anxiety knowing that right guard Damion Cook had been with the team less than two weeks. "Once the game gets going, you tend to forget about it. He's one of your teammates out there giving it his all. I was really proud of the way the offensive line played."

The right side had Joaquin Gonzalez starting at tackle in place of the injured Ryan Tucker. Damion Cook started at right guard, where Gonzalez had started before Tucker's injury.

Cook's start was a surprise. Paul Zukauskas played at right guard the previous week when Gonzalez moved to tackle after Tucker was injured.

The reshuffled line performed surprisingly well. Center Jeff Faine was impressed with Cook's play.

"Cook stepped up. He was only here for a week and a half," Faine said. "He played extremely well. He had a couple of (bad) things, but other than that he was clean."

The Bengals' defense blitzed frequently. With a few exceptions, the line and running back William Green were able to read the blitzes and allow Holcomb time to spot open receivers.

"If they weren't blitzing, they were doing twists on every play," Faine said. "We prepared for what they did similar in the second half of the last game. We wanted to be prepared for it so we could pick it up."

NOTEBOOK:

  • Tight ends Steve Heiden and Aaron Shea combined to catch 12 passes for 149 yards. Heiden, who had seven receptions for 82 yards, caught touchdown passes of 7 yards, 20 yards and 1 yard.

    "A lot of it was that they were playing cover-two (zone)," Heiden said of the success of the tight ends. "Once you get by that first linebacker, the safeties are splitting to cover the deep receivers. Kelly was doing a good job of hitting us."
     
  • Linebackers coach George Edwards and defensive line coach Andre Patterson had a heated exchange during the game. Players had to break up the two.
     
  • The Antonio Bryant-for-Quincy Morgan trade is working well for the Browns. Bryant had eight receptions for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Morgan has 11 catches for 161 yards in four games since joining the Dallas Cowboys Oct. 19.
     
  • Holcomb has thrown for more than 300 yards in four games in his career. The Browns are 1-3 in those games. Holcomb is second and third in Browns' history for single-game passing performances of more than 400 yards with 429 against Pittsburgh and 413 here Sunday. Bernie Kosar holds the record with 489 yards against the New York Jets in a 1987 playoff game.
     
  • Defensive tackle Orpheus Roye sprained a knee in second half but was able to return. The situation looks bad for middle linebacker Andra Davis, who left in the third quarter with a left knee injury. Reports are that he suffered a sprain and a tear of the medial collateral ligament. Davis suffered a significant knee injury in the season opener of the 2000 season at the University of Florida.
     
  • Defensive back Lewis Sanders has changed his number to 21. Sanders previously wore 34.
     
  • Inactive for the Browns were quarterback Jeff Garcia; offensive lineman Javiar Collins; defensive linemen Nick Eason, Corey Jackson and Amon Gordon; running back Lee Suggs, and receivers Andre King and Andre Davis

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