CLEVELAND - Who says the Browns can't make things exciting?
Once again, the Browns went right down to the wire before preserving a shutout and an 8-0 win over the Bills at blustery Cleveland Browns Stadium as Chaun Thompson and Sean Jones combined to stop Fred Jackson short of the first down at the Browns' 10 with three seconds to play.
With the win and a loss by the Steelers to the Jaguars, the Browns and their AFC North rivals are tied atop the AFC North with 9-5 records. The Steelers have the edge in the tie breaker by virtue of their two wins over the Browns. The Browns hold their one game lead for the second Wild Card spot over the Titans with two games to play as the Titans defeated the Chiefs.
The Browns improved their record to 6-1 at home with the season finale at home against the 49ers. They have now won six consecutive games at home. With a win over the 49ers in the season finale, the Browns can set a franchise record for wins at home in a season.
The story of the game was the weather as both teams traded punts and slogged through the snow and heavy winds. The Browns threw the ball 24 times, but the story was the rushing attack, which accounted for 174 yards, led by Jamal Lewis, who had 33 carries for 164 yards.
"They say, sometimes the weather is the great equalizer," Romeo Crennel said. "But we were able to make some plays and were able to win the game."
Crennel was pleased with the results.
"You have to be able to run the ball in these conditions and we were able to do it," Crennel said. "They knew it and it's a credit to the offense they were able to do it."
Anderson was comfortable in putting the ball in Lewis' hands.
"Jamal and the offensive line were huge," Anderson said. "They came through when we needed it."
Derek Anderson was 9-of-24 for 137 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He was 7-of-18 for 109 yards at halftime. Braylon Edwards had four receptions for 64 yards, all in the first half. Kellen Winslow had the Browns' only two receptions in the second half for 28 yards.
All of the scoring was in the first half. Phil Dawson capped a 41 yard drive with a 35-yard field goal into a swirling wind and then kicked a 49-yard field goal with 1:22 to play in the first half as the ball bounced off the cross bar and over to give the Browns an 8-0 halftime lead. The Browns added a safety as long snapper Ryan Neill snapped the ball out of bounds with 13:48 to play in the second quarter.
The Browns' first score was on their second possession and they moved to the Bills' 17. The biggest play of the drive was a deflection off of Edwards' hands right to Joe Jurevicius for a 25-yard gain, which took the ball to the Bills' 30.
Dawson said the conditions were almost surreal to kick in.
"In my nine years here, I would have to say today was the most difficult conditions I've had to kick in," Dawson said.
He kicked his second field goal after the Browns' stalled at the Bills' 31. Edwards caught a 25-yard pass on the drive and then another for 10 yards to take the ball to the 31. His field goal went off the cross bar and went over.
Dawson said the wind really pushed the ball around.
"A would say I aimed way outside the goal post and the ball hooked in."
Trent Edwards had just 64 yards passing through the first 58:09 when the Bills took over at their own 30 with 1:51 to play and no timeouts. Edwards finished 13-of-33 for 124 yards as he threw for 60 yards on the final drive. He hit Josh Reed for 20 yards and Jackson for 15, but the biggest completion was a 20-yard strike to Lee Evans to the Browns' 15 with 28 seconds to play on fourth-and-10. However after a short pass to Reed and an incompletion to Roscoe Parrish, Edwards hit Jackson on a swing pass where he was stopped at the 10.
No Turnovers: There were no turnovers in the game which was remarkable considering the field conditions and the weather. The fumble out of bounds by the Bills on the bad snap to the punter was credited as a fumble but not lost, resulting in the safety. Besides the lack of turnovers, the two teams played pretty much mistake free as each team had just two penalties for 15 yards.
Busy Day: P Dave Zastudil punted seven times for 232 yards (33.1). He had three punts inside the 20, including a 56 yarder. P Brian Moorman had seven punts for 251 yards (35.9) with three inside the 20 and a long of 50 yards. Moorman also ran for a first down on fourth down. He also kicked the ball through the end zone for a safety after a bad snap.
Rumbling Jamal: RB Jamal Lewis now has 1084 yards on the season. He and WR Braylon Edwards combine to give the Browns their first combination WR/RB 1000 yard gainers since 2005 when Antonio Bryant and Reuben Droughns went over 1000 yards. TE Kellen Winslow has 971 yards leaving him just 29 yards shy of hitting the 1000 yard mark. If he does, it will be the first time the Browns would have two receivers and a running back reach the 1000 level.
"Getting a 1000 yard is a nice accomplishment," Lewis said. "But I'm more interested in the team's accomplishments."
Lewis is the eighth Browns RB to rush for 1000 yards in a season. He has now rushed for 1000 plus yards in six of the eight seasons he has been in the NFL. It was his second consecutive 100-yard game and it is the first time a back rushed for over 100 yards in consecutive games since Lee Suggs did so in 2005.
Gary's Visit: Former Browns WR Gary Collins was in attendance to see if Edwards would be able to break his touchdown record. Last week, Edwards tied Collins with 13 touchdowns. Edwards led the Browns with four receptions for 64 yards, but had no touchdowns.
Shut Out Time: The last time the Browns had a shutout was in 2005 when they beat the Dolphins, 22-0.
Snow Men: LB Andra Davis, DL Shaun Smith and DB Leigh Bodden led the Browns with six tackles. Davis had two quarterback hurries. DB Eric Wright returned to his starting spot at CB and had three tackles and a pass defensed.
Safety First: The Browns recorded their first safety since 2001 (11/11/01) when Bills P Brian Moorman kicked the ball out of the back of the end zone after a bad snap.