When: First quarter
What: Jamal Lewis scored a touchdown on a one-yard run.
This week's big play is something we should expect to see time and time again this year if the Browns are to be competitive. But what made this play big wasn't necessarily the play itself. It was what it signified.
For the first time all preseason, Charlie Frye led the Browns on a touchdown drive. Not only that, it was an opening-drive score against a playoff-caliber defense that featured a clock-controlling ground game and an impact play through the air. All of it without Kellen Winslow, who was benched for the entire first quarter by head coach Romeo Crennel for undisclosed reasons.
Frye looked to be up to his old tricks when he pulled the ball down on a disintegrating play, scrambled for 13 yards and got clocked by Denver's Dominique Foxworth before the thought of sliding could enter his head. Too often, Frye's scrambles make him look far more like a jackrabbit that just saw a hungry predator than a quarterback who is using his legs as weapons.
But before the Frye-led offense could pull a repeat of the first two preseason games and fall on the self-destruct switch, the Browns quarterback found Braylon Edwards for a 24-yard completion that set up the score. The pass, a perfect lob over the head of Broncos cornerback Dre Bly, was possibly the best throw Frye has made all preseason.
When Lewis plowed into the end zone, he likely solidified Frye as the opening day starter on Sept. 9 – not that it was going to take a lot of convincing for Crennel to name Frye as his starter. All camp long, it appeared that Crennel just wanted to see a little bit of separation between Frye and the rest of the veteran competition. The opening drive might have give Crennel what he was looking for.
Derek Anderson, meanwhile, was 0-for-3 in his attempts to lead the Browns into the end zone. He has yet to lead the Browns on a touchdown drive in three games, and his stock is falling. Ken Dorsey is still the leading candidate to miss the cut among the QBs, but it's far from out of the question for the Browns to keep Dorsey and cut Anderson.
Brady Quinn, who led another touchdown drive in the second half, might have played his way to second on the depth chart.
The only really troubling thing about Saturday's opening-drive score was that it took Frye three games to make it happen. His grasp on the starter's job is still quite tentative. All it will take is for him to lay an egg against Pittsburgh or Cincinnati, and the fans will start begging for Quinn's NFL debut.
But for now, there appears to finally be order to the offense. Barring the unforeseen, we now know for certain who will be under center on Sept. 9. Even if you aren't the biggest Charlie Frye fan in the world, you still can't deny that naming a starting QB is extremely important for giving the offense a sense of stability as the Browns get set to run a brutal early-season gauntlet.