Can Offensive Fireworks Continue?

The Browns broke out of their scoring doldrums Monday, and hope for continued rolling vs. 'Skins

Braylon Edwards is hopeful the offensive fireworks launched Monday against the Giants will ignite the Browns for the balance of the season.

The Browns visit the Redskins Sunday in FedEx Field and then hit the road again to play in Jacksonville on Oct. 26.

The 454 yards of offense gained against the Giants was almost 200 yards more than the Browns second-highest total (261 vs. the Bengals) this season. Derek Anderson's passer rating of 121.3 was almost 80 points higher than his rating of 49.9 after four games. Braylon Edwards' 154 receiving yards was 59 more than his total from the first four games.

"We played our game," said Edwards, who caught one touchdown pass and a two-point conversion. "We went up top. We didn't worry about what coverage they were playing. We took a couple shots early and caught them off guard. Now they were defending, 'Are they going to go deep on us? Are they going to go short? Are they going to run the ball?' D.A. spread the ball around. That caused a lot of confusion.

"We were in a freakish rhythm. If we can continue this rhythm, who knows what could happen? I told D.A., 'I never saw you play like this.' He was in a zone. He's the kind of guy we need to finish the rest of the season."

Anderson raised his passer rating to 64.1. By completing 18 of 29 passes, he raised his completion percentage above the 50 percent level to 52.1.

Coach Romeo Crennel wants Edwards and the rest of his team to be enthusiastic, but he doesn't want it to think it belongs in the next Super Bowl just because it beat the defending Super Bowl champion Giants, 35-14. The Browns trail the Steelers by two games in the AFC North.

"I tell them we're 2-3 and you're not .500," Crennel said. "Right now, the record is a losing record. I don't think you're going to make the playoffs with a losing record. We have to do something to get at least to .500, because that's what you have to do before you can win another one to get above .500. That's going to be our focus with these guys."

Still, Crennel acknowledges the Browns can build off of beating the Giants. It was their second straight win after an 0-3 start. They beat the Bengals, 20-12, before their bye. They won by protection Anderson, holding the Giants without a sack, and by not turning the ball over while at the same time picking off three passes thrown by Eli Manning.

"I think it was good for the team, coaches, organization, fans, and good for Cleveland," Crennel said. "I thought our guys played really well and played as a team. All areas made contributions. We enjoyed it for about an hour and started thinking about the next week because we have another tough opponent coming up."

Surprisingly, the five teams that played on Monday night and then played on the road the following Sunday in the first five weeks of the season were 5-0 in those games.


The Browns are fourth in the NFL with nine interceptions and have picked off three in each of the last two games, but they are in for a test Sunday when they face the Redskins.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning went into the game Monday against the Browns having thrown only one interception. Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell is even better. He has thrown 179 passes and completed 115 of them -- six for touchdowns. Every other starting quarterback has thrown at least two interceptions. Campbell hasn't thrown any. His discipline and precision with the ball are major reasons the Redskins are 4-2.

Only three teams have more interceptions than the Browns. Green Bay and Tampa Bay each have 11 and Tennessee has 10. All three rush the quarterback better than the Browns do. The Packers have 12 sacks, the Buccaneers 11 and the Titans 15. The Browns have seven sacks.

What makes the nine interceptions even more remarkable is they were without starting strong safety Sean Jones for the last four games while he recovered from knee surgery. Jones hopes to play against the Redskins.

"A big difference from last year to this year is we're being more aggressive," free safety Brodney Pool said. "We're trying to make plays instead of waiting for the plays to come to us.

"We have (cornerback) Terry Cousin in the (meeting) room. He's brilliant. He's calling out stuff for us. We're talking more. This is going to be a test for us. (Campbell) has done a great job protecting the ball all year. The plan is to get turnovers. Hopefully this week we'll carry it over."

Eric Wright leads the Browns with three interceptions. Mike Adams has two. Pool, Brandon McDonald, Cousin and D'Qwell Jackson have one each.

At times, teams have picked on Wright. Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh beat him for a touchdown. He had trouble covering Derrick Mason in Baltimore. But his success against the Giants and his game-changing interception return of 94 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter earned him recognition as AFC Defensive Player of the Week.

Wright is in his second season. At times he did not always listen to Crennel, but that is changing.

"Sometimes when you have the ability of Eric Wright, you get a little overconfident in what you're able to do," Crennel said. "When I tell him he needs to play with a particular leverage, he doesn't always feel like he needs to play with that particular leverage. He thinks he can play with a different leverage and still get it done. He's learning. He understands that when he uses proper technique and proper leverage that he's pretty good."

Wright admitted he has to do a better job of listening to his coaches. Browns defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is a former defensive back at Wisconsin and was the Browns defensive backs coach for three years before being promoted.

"I think I'm continuing to develop as a professional in the league," Wright said. "A lot of that has to do with playing solid assignment technique and playing the right leverage. It's obviously helped me this year as opposed to last year when I pretty much did things off sheer physical ability."

Wright intercepted one pass and broke up 11 last year.


--The Redskins were the victims of the most lopsided victory in Browns franchise history. On Nov. 7, 1954, the Browns pounded the Redskins 62-3. George Ratterman took over from Otto Graham at quarterback with the Browns holding a 13-3 lead. By the time Ratterman left the game in the third quarter the Browns led 41-3. Ratterman threw three touchdown passes while completing 10 of 11 passes for 208 yards. The Browns gained 515 yards of offense -- 227 on the ground and 288 through the air.

--The Browns and Redskins played some close games as well. Jim Brown was a rookie when the Browns rallied to win 21-17 in Cleveland on Nov. 3, 1957. Brown rushed 21 times for 109 yards, his best game as a pro up to that point. He scored on touchdown runs of three and nine yards. The Browns, trailing 10-7 in the third quarter, scored two touchdowns for a 21-10 lead and then bled the clock after the Redskins' Bert Zager scored on a 56-yard punt return for just under six minutes to play.

--Bobby Mitchell, traded to the Redskins after the 1961 season, got revenge on the Browns by scoring the winning touchdown with 1:30 left in a 17-16 Washington victory on Sept. 23, 1962. Mitchell lined up as a flanker on the play, caught a short pass from Norm Snead and turned it into a 50-yard scoring play. The Browns still had a chance to win the game, but Lou Groza missed field-goal tries of 34 and 50 yards.

--Running back Clinton Portis was held to 58 yards when the Browns held off the Redskins, 17-13, on Oct. 3 four years ago. Lee Suggs, the Browns less famous running back, outplayed Portis while rushing for 82 yards and the winning touchdown on a three-yard plunge. Amazingly, it was the Browns' first rushing touchdown of the season after a 1-2 September. It was a strange game. Jeff Garcia was flagged twice for intentional grounding. He also threw a touchdown pass to Aaron Shea.

--The Redskins hammered the Browns 42-17 on Oct. 13, 1991, in Washington. Bill Belichick was a rookie head coach, but Joe Gibbs being on the opposite sideline isn't the only reason the Browns lost. Starting right cornerback Randy Hilliard became the Browns eighth defensive back lost to injury when he had to leave the game with a pulled groin.

--"The Express," a movie currently in theatres, centers on Ernie Davis, whose rights were acquired for Bobby Mitchell. Davis died from Leukemia before ever playing an NFL game.

--On Nov. 26, 1967, Redskins quarterback Sonny Jurgensen passed for 418 yards on the Browns but the Browns won, 42-37.

BY THE NUMBERS: 9 -- The Browns have nine interceptions through five games after intercepting 17 passes in 16 game last year.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "As you look around, the Redskins got beat by a team that hadn't won a game, Dallas got beat again and we won a game against a team that was undefeated. That's the way it happens in the NFL." -- Crennel, on the unpredictability of NFL games.


The Browns will have to play a second straight game without starting right defensive end Shaun Smith. Smith played two games with a broken left hand after suffering the injury Sept. 14 against the Steelers. It was surgically repaired Oct. 1 while the Browns were on their bye. The Browns hope Smith can play Oct. 26 in Jacksonville.

Louis Leonard will start against the Redskins.

"Shaun won't make it for the Redskins," Crennel said. "It's up to the doctor to make a determination after he has the surgery how much time he thinks the guy needs to be ready. The doctor doesn't think he's ready yet."

Leonard did not make a tackle against the Giants. Shaun Smith, who was starting in place of injured Robaire Smith, has 11 tackles.


--TE Kellen Winslow was at the Browns training complex Thursday, but he did not practice. The Browns hope he can practice Friday. Winslow missed the game against the Giants and was hospitalized three nights last week because of an undisclosed illness.

--SS Sean Jones practiced without limitations Wednesday. He continues to progress from arthroscopic surgery Sept. 11 and is expected to start against Washington.

--Against all odds, the Browns sack leader after five games is rookie seventh round pick Alex Hall with three. He is not a great run-stopper, so Willie McGinest will continue to start.

--If Sean Jones does start at strong safety, Mike Adams can go back to being the nickel back. Last week the Giants had success isolating Plaxico Burress on Terry Cousin when Cousin was in the slot.

--Steve Heiden caught five passes against the Giants in Kellen Winslow's absence, but he will go back to being primarily a blocking tight end if Winslow starts.

--RT Ryan Tucker returned to practice after resting his knee on Wednesday. He was limited Thursday.

--RT Kevin Shaffer became more involved in practice Thursday. He has not had contact since suffering a concussion Sept. 28 in the game against the Bengals.

GAME PLAN: The Browns used a balanced offense to beat the Giants and want to use the same attack against the Redskins. Derek Anderson is effective rolling out to his right. He did that against the Giants and bought time to throw downfield. With Donte Stallworth back, the Browns expect some single coverage on Braylon Edwards.

Getting to the quarterback is still a problem for the Browns. A key for them will be maintaining their gaps when Clinton Portis tries to cut back against the grain.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Browns LB Leon Williams, who has 17 tackles, vs. Redskins TE Chris Cooley, who has 30 receptions. The Browns have difficulty matching up with opposing tight ends. This job could go to Sean Jones if the strong safety returns fully after missing four games recovering from knee surgery.

Browns RB Jamal Lewis, the team's leading rusher with 323 yards, vs. Redskins LB London Fletcher. Fletcher leads the Redskins with 50 tackles. Lewis ran more aggressively last week than he has at times this year. Getting Ryan Tucker back at right tackle is a big boost to the run offense. Tucker is a power run blocker.

SERIES HISTORY: 44th regular-season meeting. The Browns lead the series, 33-9-1. The Browns have played the Redskins only once since returning to the NFL in 1999 and won that game, 17-13, four years ago. Prior to that, the Browns beat the Redskins only once since 1971, and that also was a 17-13 victory in a game on Nov. 27, 1988.

INJURY IMPACT: The Browns are keeping a close watch on Kellen Winslow. His undisclosed illness prevented him from practicing Wednesday. Steve Heiden can step in if Winslow has to miss a second game, but the Browns are better with Winslow. ... Kevin Shaffer believes he is over his concussion. Ryan Tucker is still expected to start at right tackle.

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