Derry: The Unlikely Story

There were lots of ways the Browns could have bounced back against the Chiefs, writes longtime Browns commentator Frank Derry. Sometimes, though, the most unlikely storylines are the best, as backup QB Derek Anderson showed on Sunday...

This was supposed to be bounce-back Sunday for the Browns, the day the players took their frustrations out on an over-confident band of Chiefs from Kansas City.

This was supposed to be the day head coach Romeo Crennel's team proved it isn't nearly as bad as it showed in the 30-0 thumping it suffered at the hands of the Bengals the previous Sunday

This was supposed to be the day the offensive line proved it wasn't as bad as Braylon Edwards had made it out to be.

This was supposed to be the day Reuben Droughns once again ran like he did a year ago when he surpassed the 1,200-yard mark.

This was supposed to be day Edwards began to live up to his first-round draft status.

This was supposed to be the day Kellen Winslow Jr., proved he was every bit as good as Chiefs Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez.

This was supposed to be the day Charlie Frye proved he has not hit a wall; that his putrid performance against Cincinnati was an aberration.  

This was supposed to be the day the Browns' defense showed it could contain one of the best running backs in the league in Larry Johnson.

This was supposed to be the day the fans, at least the faithful who bothered to show up, could hold their dawg heads high.

In a Hollywood-type setting, some or all of the above would have transpired. And a good deal of it did.

But nowhere in the script did it say anything about overtime, or the fact the man leading the Browns' incredible 31-28 come-from-behind victory would be long-dormant Derek Anderson, who in a matter of just two hours became the Browns' version of Gomer Hodge.

Hodge, as most long-time Cleveland Indians fans will remember, became an overnight sensation when he came off the bench to provide several key pinch hits for the Tribe to begin the 1971 season.

Anderson did most of his Gomer-like hitting in the form of two touchdown passes to Steve Heiden, who did a much better impersonation of Gonzalez than did Winslow, who caught only one pass on the day.

Gooolllleeeee!

Anderson also laid a couple of hits on Chiefs defenders as he raced down the right sideline for 33 yards to set up Phil Dawson's game-winning 33-yard field goal in overtime.

Suddenly, all of the negativity that surrounded the team for the past week 10 or 11 days was forgotten. Suddenly, the rumors of Crennel's demise were silenced. Suddenly, all was well on the shore of Lake Erie.

Suddenly, there is a new sheriff in town. Suddenly, there are a new batch of quarterback derby questions that Crennel will be forced to answer on a daily basis for the rest of the season if indeed Frye is healthy enough to play.  

Anderson, the second-year quarterback who was claimed by the Browns via waivers from Baltimore on Sept. 21, 2005, will definitely be the fans' favorite to take over as the team's quarterback.

After all, Anderson didn't beat just an average football team. He led a rally against an outstanding Kansas City team that came in at 7-4. He did it with his arm and his legs. He did it with a patchwork offensive line. He did it at home, where the Browns have been putrid as of late.

Most importantly, he did it at a time when the team was in danger of falling apart; on the verge of being forced to make more wholesale changes that could only delay even further the team's bid for respectability.

Anderson, who had shown a very strong arm during the preseason, looked cool, calm and confident in the first extensive regular-season action of his NFL career. He had never thrown a pass in an NFL regular-season game before Sunday!

His two touchdown passes to Heiden in the fourth quarter deadlocked the game at 28-28. He made an ill-advised pass in the closing minute to ruin any chance the team had of winning in regulation, but he more than made up for it with a clutch drive in the extra session.

Even though Anderson had seen virtually no action before the Chiefs game, it appeared the Browns used their entire playbook with the 6-6, 230-pounder in the game. In fact, at times it looked like they actually opened things up a little bit more with the former Oregon State signal-caller at the helm.

There was a flea-flicker, a run by Joshua Cribbs out of the shotgun and a couple of shovel passes that picked up key yardage.

There was also a return to form for Droughns, who made some moves reminiscent of a year ago.

Overall, it was an outstanding effort by the entire team, which obviously responded to some excellent coaching by Crennel and his staff. The coaches did a great job of keeping the team focused.

But there won't be very much time for celebrating considering the team will be back in action at Pittsburgh on Thursday night. Hopefully, they'll have an easier time bouncing back from this emotional victory than they did from their emotional loss to the Steelers a couple of weeks ago.


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