The Browns took a giant step toward legitimacy with their overtime win over Seattle.
The Browns dropped two touchdown passes, gave up a 94-yard punt return for a touchdown, trailed 21-6 and lost the coin flip in overtime. But they never quit and just keep plugging -- and won on an OT field goal.
"That's a sign of maturity," coach Romeo Crennel said. "That's a sign of a team coming together, pulling for each other and fighting for each other. We have to continue to do that as we go into the second half of the season."
To say the Browns have exceeded expectations the first half of 2007 would be the understatement of the year. Fans and media had all but given up on the Browns after a disastrous opening-game loss to Pittsburgh, followed two days later by the trade of opening-day starting quarterback Charlie Frye.
A fourth-quarter drive that put the Browns ahead went 89 yards and last more than five minutes. Past Browns teams had no chance to finish that drive.
This one did -- in impressive fashion.
"The first half of the season has been better than it has been around here in a long time," Crennel said. "You have to say that the team has improved. But there is still a lot of room for improvement, and that's what we're trying to do."
The fact that the Browns are legitimate and competitive says more than anyone can about the step the team has taken.
--TE Kellen Winslow had a monster game with 11 catches for 125 yards. He even brought back memories of his father's career by struggling through exhaustion and injuries to his shoulder and hip.
Winslow refused to leave the game, though, and when it ended, he was in tears over the team's effort in the locker room.
"I'm just proud of us, man," Winslow said. "We fought as a team. We fought as a team."
"I grabbed him first and I was hoping everybody would come to the rescue," Jones said.
A week earlier in St. Louis, Jones stopped Brian Leonard on fourth-and-1 to end a drive.
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
--QB Derek Anderson did not throw a touchdown for the first time in his seven starts, but he set personal highs with 364 yards, 29 completions and 48 attempts. He was not sacked.
--RB Jamal Lewis saw his NFL rushing record broken by Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, but Lewis set a personal mark with four touchdowns. Jim Brown holds the team record with five touchdowns in a game in 1959 against the Baltimore Colts.
--WR Braylon Edwards had a couple of drops, but they were obscured by the victory. Edwards is having an outstanding season, but he does drop a pass now and then.
--WR Joe Jurevicius continues to show his value. Jurevicius turned a first-and-20 into a first down with an excellent catch and run, and he made an outstanding catch to convert a key two-point conversion following the Browns' last touchdown.
--PK Phil Dawson's game-winning field goal was the ninth of his career. Dawson is the only Brown remaining from the 1999 expansion team.
REPORT CARD VS. SEAHAWKS
PASSING OFFENSE: B -- This grade would be an "A" had the Browns gotten in the end zone. Derek Anderson's 346 yards came the slow and steady way -- he had one long completion of 34 yards, and that was a screen pass in overtime. Anderson's calm in the pocket is the mainstay of the Browns offense.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- This grade would be a "C" but for Jamal Lewis' four touchdowns. The Browns did not run well -- Lewis gained 37 yards on 20 carries -- but when they needed a score, they blocked well and Lewis scored. The Browns will take the trade of scores for yards any day.
PASS DEFENSE: D -- Bobby Engram turned into Don Hutson, catching 14 passes for 139 yards as Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck continually found the intermediate throw. This is partly by design. The Browns will give short routes to protect against the big play. But Seattle did pretty much whatever it wanted in the passing game.
RUSH DEFENSE: C -- Hard to say if the Browns were that effective or if Shaun Alexander has pretty much lost it, but Alexander was very ineffective. Maurice Morris gained 55 yards on nine carries, but Seattle was passing so well it did not use Morris a lot. The best thing for the Browns is they did not allow a back to gain 100 yards for the second week in a row. For the Browns defense, that is an accomplishment.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- It's got to be a good grade when the placekicker wins the game in overtime. Phil Dawson's game-winning kick erased the fact that he had earlier missed an extra point -- something many would have brought up had the Browns lost. Dave Zastudil averaged 43.5 yards per punt, and the return game was adequate, with Joshua Cribbs' 38-yard kick return the highlight.
COACHING: A -- The addition of offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski has transformed the offense. Chudzinski works very closely with assistant head coach/quarterback coach Rip Scherer, and the pair have done wonders with the offense. Chudzinski's play-calling also stands out. His screen pass in overtime was the perfect call at the perfect time. The Browns played like a team that believes completely in its coaching staff.