Browns-Ravens: Report Card

Not everyone will agree with's grades for the Browns following their 33-30 victory in Baltimore...

The Browns emerged from their most challenging stretch of the season with wins over Seattle and Baltimore and a near-win over Pittsburgh.

At this point, with the team 6-4, there's no reason to believe the Browns can't make a playoff run. Not with the final six games against Houston, Arizona, the Jets, Buffalo, Cincinnati and San Francisco.

Even the breaks are going the Browns' way.

Witness a 51-yard field goal on the last play of regulation to tie the game by Phil Dawson. Officials initially called the kick no good.

But after on-field discussion -- referee Pete Morelli could not review the play, according to NFL rules -- it was determined the ball hit the support just beyond the upright.

That call was correct. But in past years ...

"I think everybody would agree that last year at this time in Browns football, we don't get any of these calls," receiver Joe Jurevicius said.

In the NFL, one team always emerges from the dark shadows. This season, there is no reason that team cannot be the Browns.


--KR Joshua Cribbs has become as dangerous as any kick returner in the league. And because the Ravens chose to kick to him with 26 seconds left in the game and in overtime, the Browns stole a win.

Cribbs' returns on those kicks gave the Browns a short field to the field goals that tied and won the game. His 254 yards in returns were a team record. His season -- 1,475 return yards -- has Hawaii written all over it.

Cribbs' thoughts as the Ravens kicked the ball deep with 26 seconds left: Why are they kicking to me?

--K Phil Dawson missed a 35-yard field goal early in Sunday's game against Baltimore. It was justice that officials got the call correct on his 51-yarder to tie the game.

Dawson has been with the Browns since 1999, and there is no better person on the team. He has fought through the bad times and is now enjoying the good times. Had the Browns lost, fingers would have been pointed at him for his early miss.

But Dawson made the 51-yarder to tie and drilled the game-winner from 33 yards to win, which made him 17-for-20 for the season.


--QB Derek Anderson never seemed to get going against Baltimore, but at game's end the Browns had won and Anderson had thrown for 274 yards. Not bad for a guy who didn't seem to get going.

--RB Jamal Lewis heard some criticism about his play during the week leading up to the game, then ran extremely well against his old teammates. Lewis finished with 92 yards on 22 carries, by far his best game since his 216-yard effort against Cincinnati in Game 2.

--WR Braylon Edwards seemed to be in a funk during the game -- at least that's what Joe Jurevicius said. But by game's end Edwards had eight catches, including a huge grab in regulation that set up the tying field goal.

--DE Robaire Smith has been solid throughout the season, but against Baltimore he was outstanding, with two sacks of Kyle Boller among his five tackles.

--CB Eric Wright left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury that could be serious. The injury will be evaluated, with the team providing an update Tuesday or Wednesday.


PASSING OFFENSE: B -- There were no touchdown passes, but Derek Anderson threw for 274 yards -- including huge completions to Braylon Edwards to set up the tying field goal and to Kellen Winslow in overtime to set up the game-winner. Anderson was patient and persistent against a tough defense, which is exactly the way to play the Ravens. His biggest blemish was a first-half interception thrown under pressure that was returned for a touchdown.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Jamal Lewis answered some critics with some aggressive running, including a hurdle of a Baltimore defender on a 21-yard first-half run. Lewis came close to 100 yards for the second time this season, a good sign because as the weather turns colder, the Browns will need him more and more.

PASS DEFENSE: F -- Since when does Kyle Boller chuck the ball all over the field? After struggling for a half, Boller threw for 255 yards and a touchdown in the second half. This is not good, and it illustrates that the Browns will not be a complete team without a defense.

RUSH DEFENSE: F -- A year-long problem remains one, as Willis McGahee topped 100 yards and ran for a touchdown. The Browns regularly give up 100-yard games to running backs. So far they've been able to outscore the opposition. At some point, this problem may come back to hurt them.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Phil Dawson made two clutch field goals -- one that needed a lengthy discussion from officials but was properly ruled good. The star, though, was Joshua Cribbs, who continues to amaze. Prior to the season, special teams coach Ted Daisher said he thought Cribbs could be as good as Chicago's Devin Hester. He was wrong. Cribbs may be better. His two returns late in regulation and overtime won the game for the Browns. "He's an amazing player," WR Braylon Edwards said. "He does some things that none of us can do."

COACHING: B -- You wonder what it will take for the Browns to find a defense, but then you realize the answer is simple: better players. That will happen in the offseason. Until then, the Browns must make do with what they have and hope to keep scoring a lot of points. The best testament to the coaching: The team never quits. And that has enabled the Browns to win six of their first 10 games.

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