Yes, Jacksonville Stadium (whatever the heck it's called nowadays) is about half-empty for todays sure-to-be-weird matchup between the Browns and Jaguars.
Right off the bat, Danny Boyd shows why he was not employed as a kicker, as the Jags fourth kicker this season boots the ball a Phil Dawson-esque distance to the 10. Andre Davis runs it back to the 35.
Showing their establish-the-run gameplan right off the bat, Green gets the ball and runs from one side of the field to the other and gains four yards. On second down, Couch drops but is under pressure and throws the ball away. KJ slipped on the turf during that play. That's the "away" Couch at work, not pressing and making the right decision. On third down, Couch throws to Quincy Morgan, but he's held and the Browns get a freebie first down on the defensive holding call.
Next set of downs, we see William Green plow forward nicely following his blockers. If the starter-on-ABs-fantasy-team-are-doomed theory is correct, Green will gain no more yards today. A swing pass to White nets a first down. Booyah!
Man, Green is hitting the holes fast now. He blasts forward for another first down. Wow. Following a false start penalty, James Jackson follows Ryan Tucker and Andre Davis around the right side for another nice gain.
CBS shows the Warren hit on Brunell again. I can't get enough of that clip. Show it again! Legal hit, no fine should have been levied. But it's nice watching Warren's eyes get the size of dinner plates on that one. Ra!
Couch then misses a wide-open Mark Campbell. WIDE OPEN. Man, is he going to get it on the forums. I'm glad he doesn't read them.... I think.
Dawson missed a 42-yarder and the score remains knotted at 0-0.
The Jags take over and the Browns look good on the their first defensive series. The Jags blow the first play and Tyrone Roders chases Brunell out of bounds. Fred Taylor goes nowhere on a handoff, and Foge Fazio blitzes on third-down. Word misses Brunell despite penetration, but Dwayne Rudd and Orpheus Roye track him down for the sack. Tim Couch and Foge Fazio both appear to have learned from last week.
Green makes up for a bad decision on first down by getting an outlet pass from Couch, and creating a makeable third down situation that Steve Heiden converts on a nice little swing pass. Couch is relatively unpressured and making smart decisions, but that missed pass to Mark Campbell will haunt him with fans unless the Browns win this one.
The next series starts unremarkably with a short run and Couch throwing the ball away with no one open. This creates a long third down situation.
Oh no! Butch Davis has had to take his headphones off because Tom Coughlin's don't work! We're flying blind now! Aiiigh!!!
Couch then makes another throw that appears horrible. Either it was a bad throw or Quincy Morgan wasn't where Couch thought he would be. Awful... it looks like an overthrow. I sense Holcomb pimps sharpening their knives. I fear to go into the chatroom right now. Arrgh. On replay, it just looks like an overthrow. Ridiculous. Forget everything I said about Couch making smart decisions... I think Morgan was running the right route. Perhaps on Inside the Huddle next week, we'll learn that it was a great throw and a great route, but that sudden and unexpected changes to the Earth's magnetic field caused an unlikely interception.
The Jaguars charge back after getting the gift interception. Brunell hits Jimmy Smith and Bobby Shaw long. Both of the Jaguars fans watching are making noise now, drowned out only by the sound of the man-eating six-foot-long Florida crickets in the fields outside the stadium. But the Browns have them right where they want them... in the red zone with a first and goal. Word and Griffith, and then Dwayne Rudd, make stops on running plays. But then Brunell finds Kyle Brady in the end zone for an easy touchdown. Robert Griffith is fired up about something, but the announcers are too busy praising Brunell to talk about it, and I don't see anything on the replay.
Regardless, the score is now Jaguars 7, Browns 0.
On the ensuing kickoff, Andre Davis runs for a touchdown, but a holding call on Lenoy Jones brings it back. Once again, OUCH. This one isn't going well, but all is not lost yet.
The Browns get the ball on the 20 instead of seven points and immediately go to the run - which has been largely successful to date. Now the announcers show that Brady pushed off on Griffith, which is why he was so fired up. We're not getting much help from anyone today. This one's rough so far.
The second quarter starts off as badly as the first quarter ended. Couch is sacked and then Bobby Shaw fumbles the ensuing punt return. But, of course, he gets it back, and the Jags take over. Sooner or later, some breaks are going to have to go the Browns way. Right?
Nope. Guess not. Corey Fuller gets nailed for defensive holding (which is something that happens with the quarterback has 5 minutes to throw like Brunell did. Fred Taylor pushes the pile on the next play, and the Jags keep moving.
Stacy Mack - who tortured the Browns a couple years ago - rips off a nice run and then Kyle Brady gets another catch. I guess I could see why Belichick went mental back in the last days of the old Browns when he couldn't draft him. He's a nice tight end, but I'm not sure if I'd go screw-it-lets-draft-Craig-Powell mental if I couldn't draft him.
Robert Griffith later makes a fantastic tackle that might take a little sting out of the uncalled pushoff as he wraps up Fred Taylor. Beautiful tackle to create a third and long. Then Foge Fazio blitzes again... this time a cornerback blitz by Lewis Sanders that drags down Brunell. Adding this up, I think I know the percentage of sacks the Browns have had today that also were on blitzes. Yep, 100%. Strange. I'm still scratching my head over Fazio's conservative approach against the Panthers.
The Browns get the ball back and immediately go back to the run. Nifty cutback by Green, which nets eight. Arians has switched to more of a pulling scheme with our offensive line, and it's working. The line really looks better today, even with just pushing straight ahead. A shovel pass to Jamel White - nice call - gets the first down. It's a risky call as White gets the ball behind the line of scrimmage, but it works.
Man, man, man. William Green just rules. Another nice ten yard run on first down.
Excuse me.... were people talking about a no-huddle throw-throw-throw attack being preferable a couple of weeks ago? Go figure. Davis was right on this one, and a lot of analysts and fans were wrong. But did I catch um, trouble, a month ago at the Stadium when I was yelling for Green to get the ball. Really ticked off my 10-year-old son, who was calling Green a stiff. Sure, I was mostly doing it as a form of mental torture to the young man, but I can pretend I saw the same thing Davis did now. It's amazing how I get smarter over time. Orwell was right... rewriting history just rules.
Anyhow, a nice reverse to Davis, but a bogus spot on a Green run result in a third-and-short again near midfield. White gets the ball on a handoff and doesn't make it. Instead of going for it, Davis brings in Gardocki. The Browns 1999-2000 MVP (he wasn't, of course, but he was) puts the ball inside the 10 but it rolls into the end zone.
When, again, are we going to catch a break? Jacksonville gets the ball on the 20.
Pressure on Brunell (sack by Tyrone Rogers) results in a three-and-out, but another blocking foul on the Browns on the runback gives the Browns weak field position.
Browns get the ball back on the 26, but a nice screen to William Green gets a quick nine yards. They try to do it again, but Green trips over Shaun O'Hara's leg and the play blows up. A nice throw to Heiden is then incomplete, but the Jags make a mistake, as a defensive tackle (Henderson, I think?) makes a grab at Couch's face mask as he goes past.
A penalty and run outside that doesn't work put the Browns into a second and twelve. Couch runs out of the pocket quickly - either making a smart decision or doing what was planned - and picks up the first down. On the next play, Jamel White reverses field and Couch springs him open with a great block downfield. Maybe if he keeps throwing like he is, we can play Couch at tight end.
Anyhow, another penalty pushes the Browns back to the Jags 25, and Marcus Stroud pushes Barry Stokes backwards to blow up the fist down play. Couch overthrows again, and it's third-and-long with 47 seconds left.
Couch throws underneath to White and the Browns are now in a fourth down situation. White runs out-of-bounds rather than turning upfield and Dawson is in to kick a gimme field goal.
It's blocked as Henderson and Stroud pushed the Browns offensive line backwards and a hand gets on the ball. It's a low kick as well.
Blah. Blech. Horrible. The Browns special teams are killing them today.
As the first half ends, the Browns are still in the game down 7-0, but not playing well.
After the kickoff, Brunell throws long to Patrick Johnson, but Fuller is on him step-for-step. Breaks up the pass nicely. Fred Taylor is stuffed, and the defense looking good early in the second. The Jags are in third-and-long. Fazio brings an all-out blitz, but Brunell tosses short to Kyle Brady who is dragged down by Tyrone Rogers.
On the punt, Davis loses yardage on the return, but there's still a block in the back penalty. Another return with a penalty. The Browns special teams are just killing them. Browns get the ball on their five.
Green busts the ball out past the ten, and then KJ gets a twenty yard pass from Couch after a (now effective) play action. Campbell breaks free again, but now Couch hits him for another big game. The Browns are moving the ball and have crossed mid-field.
Another hand-off to Green, four yards. Another hand-off to Green, about fifteen yards around the right side. Another hand-off to Green, three yards. Another hand-off to Green, nine yards (there's that stiff arm again, love it). Browns are now down to the twelve. Green has gone from bust, to good, to stud in a month. Next step is "star". Play-fake leads to another swing pass to Heiden, who is pulled down at the four. Green moves the pile four yards and goes into the end zone. Wow!
Nice defense. Nice 95-yard drive. Boy, this team looks great when they avoid mistakes. Thank you, Mr. Green. Browns 7, Jaguars 7.
The Jags take a page out of the Browns playbook and start running Taylor middle, Taylor right, etc. Those two plays put the ball at mid-field. Now the game is looking a bit more like the one I expected.
Then the Jags go to the air, but the Browns secondary steps up. Unfortunately, Brunell scrambles on the second pass play and picks up a first down. Then Fred Taylor blasts up the middle for forty-four yards. What an incredible hole in the middle. As the cliche says, it was big enough to drive a truck through. Actually, two trucks. Semis. Naturally, there was a holding call which could have been made, but that's true on most plays. The Jags offensive line beat our defensive line on that series and the good vibes just disappeared. Jaguars 14, Browns 7.
The Browns, though, are doing whatever they want when Green gets the ball on first down. Another nine yards for Green on the first play of the Browns drive. Another hand-off to Green, another five yards.
With the Jags, focusing on Green, the play-fake works incredibly well. Quincy Morgan is wide open for a sixty yard pass reception and touchdown. Couch leads him well and the game is tied again! Holcomb pimps can put their knives away for a little bit. Browns 14, Jaguars 14.
Then, another special teams mistake. Dawson kicks the ball out of bounds on the kickoff, giving the Jags the ball on the 40. Brunell scrambles out of trouble on first down, gaining two. Then Taylor gets shut down on a run, and the defense looks like they did on their first drive. Third and eight. Another blitz, well read by Brunell, but Lewis Sanders makes a key tackle to get the ball back for the Browns.
And... another special teams issue. Hanson pins the Browns back inside the five again as Davis waves off the ball and it doesn't bounce into the end zone. Just a good punt and good coverage by the Jags on that one.
For about the first time, Green is stuffed on first down. Couch gets the ball to Andre Davis (again on play action) and the rookie WR reaches out to get the ball over the first down line. Nice job. The Browns find themselves in a third-and-five as the quarter winds down.
As the last quarter begins, Couch hit Morgan on the 29 for a first down. Morgan got hit early, but it wasn't called. On first down, Couch gets lucky as Morgan falls down and the ball sales out of bounds rather than to a waiting defensive back. The Browns are in second and ten, which they haven't been often today.
After a penalty on the Jags, the Browns fake a reverse and then toss a short pass to Green. Green runs inside rather than outside and the Browns find themselves in third-and-short. The entire City of Jacksonville is waiting for the ensuing run up the middle, and the Browns are forced to punt.
Then, the predicted weirdness happens. Gardocki punts, the Jags fair catch on the fifteen and there are no special teams penalties on the Browns! Bi-i-i-i-zarre!
Twelve minutes left, tie game. Both of these teams are familiar just to just this type of situation.... lots of close games for both teams all year.
Earl Holmes makes two straight stops on running plays (watch it on tape, Wali. Watch it on tape). Third-and-seven for the Jags. Browns blitz again, and Boyer harrasses Brunell to the point where he has to throw the ball away. Three-and-out. Nice!
Browns get the ball on the forty-two after the punt with, again, no special teams penalties. Woo hoo!
Then my four-year-old comes into my sports den/bar/fortress of solitude and tells me that we have to put our Christmas Tree up today. There will be a brief interlude before the photo gallery is up tonight, folks. Sorry, but I can't withstand the barrage of cute that just ambushed me.
Anyhow, the Browns spring a nice run through a penalty, so it becomes 1st and 20. Couch then gets a ball tipped on the ensuing play, and the offensive unit looks to not take advantage of the nice field position. It appears that William Green is coming to the rescue with a fourteen yard run, but the penalty is (oddly) called against the Jags and the run stands. If the Browns win today, Green gets my first gameball. Couch is forced out of the pocket on the third down play, throws at the ground to avoid a sack, and it's punting time.
Following a weak punt by Gardocki, the Jags get the ball on the thirty and immediately give it to Taylor on the trap play. First down. They do it again, five yards. They do it again (this time to Stacey Mack, nothing. Third down and five. An incomplete pass, and the Browns get the ball back.
Again, the Jags win the special teams battle, as the Browns get the ball very close to their goal line. But the Browns get some yardage quick, with another short pass to Heiden (who is having a nice game). The Browns pitch it to Green, who runs outside close to a first down. After an incompletion, Green runs for four. On the predictable third-down pass, Henderson again knocks down the football, and Gardocki punts poorly again. The Jags get the ball around the Browns forty.
With the Jags smelling blood, Brunell scrambles around long enough to buy time and get the ball to Fred Taylor for eight yards. But the Jaguars get a stupid personal foul which pushes them back to a first and twenty-five. The Browns can't take advantage of it, though, as Fred Taylor explodes out of the backfield for 28 yards and a first down. A critical play.With the ball inside the 25, the Browns push Taylor outside for just a couple. Brunell can't find an open receiver on the next play, but he scrambles up the middle for four yards. Third and three. Pressure. The Browns come up big, stuffing Stacey Mack off-tackle (Griffith again). Danny Boyd tries his first-ever NFL field goal, and connects. Jaguars 17, Browns 14
After the kickoff, the Browns execute a nice screen to Andre Davis to take the ball up to the thirty-five yard line. The Browns are into the two-minute offense now. Following an incompletion, there is 2:02 left. Third and four. Couch finds the ever-reliable KJ for a first down.With the Browns on the first down, a false start by Darnell Sanders kills another play. Second and 22. Couch then has enough time to throw despite a blitz, but the ball is picked as Couch again tries to force the ball to KJ. The interception kills the Browns chances now.
The Browns defense is now back on the field, with the game likely lost and the Jags with the ball deep in Browns territory. Two runs nets a first down. The Browns are taking time outs now to postpone the inevitable, but the Jags have the ball second and goal with a little over a minute left. Fred Taylor grinds for a yard or two. Time out. Fred Taylor runs again for no gain. Browns time out. All the time outs are gone now, 56 seconds left. Danny Boyd comes in for a gimme 22-yarder. Nails it. Jaguars 20, Browns 14
It's not over yet. A little over fifty seconds left, and the Browns are getting the kick-off. The squib kick is handled by Jamel White who brings it up to the 47 yard line of the Browns. There are forty seven second left and it's Hail Mary time.
Couch under a blitz is sacked, so the clock keeps running. Thirty seconds. Pass underneath to White. Couch throws long and.... IT'S COMPLETE!!! QUINCY MORGAN!!!! TOUCHDOWN!!! Game is tied!!! Unbelieveable!!
Phil Dawson in for an all-important extra point, but now on replay it looks like a dubious catch. The crowd boos, but it was called a touchdown on the field. The play is now being reviewed. NO INDISPUTABLE EVIDENCE!!! (Umpires should run off the field now. Dawson's extra point is good. THE BROWNS STEAL A WIN!!! WOW!!
BROWNS 21, Jaguars 20