2007 Rewind: Browns 41, Dolphins 31

All of a sudden, the Browns went from hapless at home to being nearly unbeatable there. The trend, which had unexpectedly appeared in week two, got locked in as the Browns beat up on struggling Miami Dolphins. Get psyched up for 2008 by re-living 2007... all this week on the OBR.


The scenario involving the bully kicking sand in the face of the 98-pound weakling was quite familiar to the Browns.

Generally, however, the Browns had played the unfortunate role of the 98-pound weakling.

Heading into Week 6, however, they had the opportunity to be cast as the bully. After all, winless Miami was heading to town.

The once-proud Dolphins were proud no longer. The franchise that once featured Dan Marino slinging the pigskin for score after score now had Cleo Lemon tossing it around, not to mention a defense with more holes than a pound of Swiss cheese. Despite featuring All-Pro personnel, Miami was surrendering 28 points a game heading into Cleveland.

Not that the Browns were exactly stifling on that side of the ball. And though they appeared likely to keep the scoreboard operator busy, this was not a team that could take any opponent lightly. Head coach Romeo Crennel was making certain of that.

"I think this is one of those games that you have to be careful about," he told the Columbus Dispatch. "They are 0-5 and you don't want your team to think it's going to be automatic. It's not automatic because they have a lot of talent on their team."

That talent wasn't meshing, though running back Ronnie Brown, defensive end Jason Taylor and linebackers Joey Porter and Zach Thomas were all established NFL standouts.

Adding a touch of precariousness to the situation, the Browns would be without featured back Jamal Lewis, who had been sidelined with a sprained foot.

"We're no 5-0 team," warned wide receiver Braylon Edwards. "We're not the (Indianapolis) Colts or the (New England) Patriots in terms of record. So who are we to say that we really don't have to focus on this team?"

While the Browns were focusing on that team, their fans were focusing on Dolphins' first-round draft pick Ted Ginn, Jr., who had starred at Glenville High School and Ohio State. Ginn had yet to receive extended playing time at wide receiver, greatly because of the vast talents of veteran Chris Chambers, who spent his prep career at Bedford High School.

Only time would tell if the Browns could turn the tables and assume the part of bully. It required quite a role reversal for a team that hadn't had a winning season since 2002.


Cleveland Browns Stadium had been a House of Horrors for the home team in recent years. Now, finally, the same could be said for the opposition.

In the first of two consecutive games against winless competition, the Browns took care of business. They scored 27 points in the first half, allowed Miami to sneak back into contention, and then emerged with a 41-31 victory.

Speaking of emerging, wide receiver Braylon Edwards certainly was by this time of the season. He caught just five passes for 67 yards, but three of them ended up with end zone celebrations, including two in the decisive fourth quarter.

By the second quarter, it didn't appear such late-game dramatics would be required. One-yard touchdown runs by Jason Wright and quarterback Derek Anderson sandwiched around a field goal by Miami's Jay Feely gave the Browns a 14-3 lead after the first quarter.

The Browns grabbed the momentum and sprinted with it. They added 13 points before halftime on two Phil Dawson field goals and a 24-yard scoring strike from Anderson to Edwards.

Chalk up one in the win column, right?

Not so fast. The third quarter was all Miami. Fourth-year quarterback Cleo Lemon, who had thrown a 14-yard touchdown pass to David Martin in the second quarter and finished with 256 yards through the air, ran for two touchdowns in the third to slice his team's deficit to 27-24.

That's when Edwards really went to town. He caught a 5-yard scoring touchdown pass from Anderson four minutes into the fourth quarter before clinching the victory by hauling in another for 16 yards with 4:34 remaining.

Game, set, match.

But though the Browns could celebrate raising their record to .500, they still displayed one of the most porous defenses in the NFL, especially in the second half. They allowed the struggling Dolphins 356 total yards. Ronnie Brown finished with 101 yards on the ground and an average of 5.4 yards per carry.

Yet if they simply continued to outscore opponents, it wouldn't matter. Anderson, now firmly entrenched as the team's starter, played mistake-free football. He completed 18 of 25 passes for 245 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

The combination of Wright and Jerome Harrison in the backfield also proved effective, combining for 116 yards in 28 attempts.

The post-game celebration was soon to begin.


A happy Browns team after a home game? Once rare, it was now commonplace.

The victory over Miami was their third straight at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Scoring on four of your first five possessions does tend to translate into a very nice feeling in the locker room after a game.

Apparently, the Browns heeded the warning voiced by coach Romeo Crennel during the week. That is, don't take Miami lightly.

"It's another step in the right direction, to be able to beat at team that everybody says you're supposed to beat," he told the media following the victory. "I talked to the guys all week about not underestimating these guys or taking them lightly. To be able to come out and get this win against a team that you're supposed to beat, that's a plus. You've got to be able to do that in this league."

They did that for the same reason they had been doing that in three of their last five games – an explosive offense. The most explosive of all on this day was Braylon Edwards, whose three touchdown receptions tied a single-game franchise record and simply overwhelmed the Dolphins' weak secondary.

Oh, and the concerns that Browns fans had expressed about Edwards being just another first-round flop?

Forget about it.

"It's important to me," he told the Toledo Blade about his emergence as a top-flight receiver. "When you get drafted early, you want to make your mark fast. You want to show everyone that you are not a bust. You want to show them right away that this is why they drafted me number three (in the 2005 NFL Draft)."

But then, Edwards needed a quarterback who could take advantage of his talents. He and Anderson had developed a rapport seen by no other quarterback-receiver combination since the Browns returned to Cleveland in 1999.

And greatly because of that, the team was finally feeling a home field advantage. The Browns always attracted their 73,000 fans. But they had given them few reasons to make some real noise.

Not anymore.

"The atmosphere in this stadium is great," Anderson told The Blade. "The fans have been coming out and giving us some extra pep. It's nice to come home and have the crowd behind you. Being patient, making good decisions, and growing as a quarterback every week is key."

Were the Browns growing into the role of a contender? It was still too early to tell.

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