Secondary Must Step Up

For the first time all season, the Cleveland Browns did not allow a passing touchdown as they kept Kellen Clemens out of the end zone. Getting to two games in a row may be tough, however...

The Browns might set a record for touchdown passes allowed in one season unless they play their final three opponents the way they did the Jets. The record of 32 allowed was set in 1990 when the Browns were 3-13 one season after playing for the AFC championship.

The Jets' Kellen Clemens was the first quarterback the Browns prevented from throwing a touchdown pass through the first the first 13 games. They have still allowed 27 touchdown passes. They allowed two or more eight times. Only twice in the last eight games (at St. Louis and at Baltimore) prior to beating the Jets did the Browns hold the opponent to one passing touchdown. They won both games.

What makes the chances of setting such a negative record unique is the Browns will be trying to take a step toward the playoffs Sunday when they host the Bills in Cleveland Browns Stadium. The Bills scored only six passing touchdowns through the first 12 games, and then Trent Edwards threw four touchdown passes against Miami. The Bills, 7-6, trail the Browns by a game for the final wild card spot.

"The thing that concerns me is that we're not good (defensively)," coach Romeo Crennel said. "All you have to do is look at the stats. When you look at the stats, we can't stop the run and we don't rush the passer efficiently enough.

"Within the remaining games we're going to work and try to get better. To get guys to play technique longer and get them in position better, to fit better. If we can do some of those things, we'll be better."

Cornerback Leigh Bodden is not playing as well as he has in the past and the Browns sorely miss free safety Brian Russell.

Last season Bodden missed seven games with ankle injuries, Gary Baxter missed 10 with two torn patellar tendons and Daylon McCutcheon missed the entire season recovering from knee surgery. All three were counted upon before the 2006 season started. Instead, Daven Holly, Ralph Brown and Jereme Perry filled in. With all the injuries, the Browns allowed only 20 touchdown passes.

Russell left the Browns to play for the Seahawks. Seattle allowed 18 touchdowns last season, a number unacceptable to coach Mike Hologram. With Russell at safety the Seahawks have allowed only seven touchdown passes.

Opponents have not been beating the Browns with deep passes as often as they did earlier because the pass rush has improved. On Dec. 2 Kurt Warner threw one touchdown pass five yards and another one yard. The week before Texans quarterback Matt Schaub threw touchdown passes of 17 and six yards.

Still, except for fantasy football leagues, a touchdown from one yard is the same as a touchdown from 40 yards.

"Our coach (secondary coach Mel Tucker) tells us all the time, we can't afford to make a mistake," rookie defensive back Brandon McDonald said. "We're the last line of defense. If guys get past us, that's a touchdown."

The Browns should have Eric Wright ready to play against the Bills. The rookie cornerback dressed against the Jets, but he did not start.


--WR Braylon Edwards caught his 13th touchdown pass of the season, tying a team record set by Gary Collins in 1963.

--RB Jamal Lewis rushed for 118 yards. It was the second time in the last three games he rushed for more than 100 yards.

--QB Derek Anderson threw two touchdown passes, giving him 26 in 2007. The team record of 30 was set by Brian Sipe in 1980.

--DE Robaire Smith made two tackles when the Jets had the ball first-and-goal on the 1 in the second quarter.

--Rookie CB Brandon McDonald intercepted his second pass in the last three weeks.

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