Browns-Colts: Report Card

How did each unit do in the Browns loss to the Colts? Here's's take...



PASSING OFFENSE: D -- The Browns' plan was to throw short, use the clock and take long drives to score. This was in part the product of the Colts' Cover-2 defense and in part the product of the Browns wanting to keep the ball out of Peyton Manning's hands. It worked -- to a point. Derek Anderson completed 16 of 26 but only gained 110 yards. Twelve of his 16 completions were to tight ends or backs. But when the Browns had chances to get the ball in the end zone, they failed, forcing them to settle for two field goals and one miss.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- The Browns gave the ball to Jamal Lewis a lot. He ran 24 times but gained only 77 yards against a suspect run defense. For the game, the Browns averaged 3.2 yards and never turned to Jerome Harrison, who could have provided a quickness change of pace. Had the Browns run the ball better, they might have won the game.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- The Colts did not score an offensive touchdown for the first time in five years. Peyton Manning looked lost, throwing 21 times for 125 yards. He hardly ever looked at his wideouts, and he never got TE Dallas Clark into the game. This happened even though the Colts had the ball for almost 28 minutes. How the Browns could look so bad against Sage Rosenfels and so good against Manning defies logic, but it happened.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Colts had a nondescript effort on the ground, averaging just 3.1 yards on 29 carries. Too, the Browns ended the first half with a goal-line stand that concluded with stopping Manning's sneak from the 1. This was a strong, strong effort that could have produced a win had the offense done anything at all.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- The Cleveland and Indianapolis units had little impact either way, as Phil Dawson's missed field goal was balanced out by Adam Vinatieri's miss. Dave Zastudil punted well, but Josh Cribbs was not able to break a return. Neither team changed the game's feel with special teams.


COACHING: B -- One week the Browns look lost, the next they hold the Colts to one field goal. It's hard to explain, but after the loss, Derek Anderson said the team would continue to play to save Romeo Crennel's job. "We love RAC," he said. This effort was the kind that might have helped Crennel's cause -- had the Browns won. Problem is, they lost, so the effort only highlighted the season-long inconsistencies and problems. 



  • QB Derek Anderson hurt his left knee late in the loss to Indianapolis, an injury that could have effects on Anderson's future. Anderson's left leg bent in when OT Kevin Shaffer fell into him after being bull-rushed by the Colts' Robert Mathis. Mathis then tackled Shaffer and fell on Anderson's knee. Anderson suffered a torn MCL, but no surgery is necessary. Anderson's future in Cleveland is in question after Brady Quinn ascended to the starting spot.

  • OT Kevin Shaffer has had a rough season at right tackle. Shaffer was one of Phil Savage's first free agent signings, but he struggled at left tackle in 2006. He had a decent season in 2007 when he moved to the right following the drafting of Joe Thomas, but this season he has struggled. The lowlight: Robert Mathis' bull rush that knocked Shaffer over and into the knee of QB Derek Anderson on Sunday. At 245 pounds, Mathis is a speed rusher, but he surprised Shaffer with his rush. Shaffer also was steamrolled on a key play against Baltimore. That play was a screen pass, but because Shaffer did not hold his ground, the timing was off. The pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown.\
  • TE Kellen Winslow will not play Sunday in Tennessee. Winslow suffered a high ankle sprain when he got caught under a pile Sunday. He was using crutches in the locker room and left in a walking boot, which he will wear for up to a week.

  • TE Steve Heiden will replace Kellen Winslow in the lineup, and he's played well all season. But with the Browns using a third quarterback, it might not matter who is playing tight end.

  • DE Corey Williams has been playing hurt all season, but he has been playing through the pain. He will need surgery after the season on a shoulder injury, and he left Sunday's game with a laceration. He returned to the game after the cut.

  • PK Phil Dawson missed his second field goal in two weeks, again showing how tough it is to kick in Cleveland Stadium as the weather gets cold. Dawson said after the Houston loss that kicking in the East end with a southwest wind is next to impossible. Against the Colts, he missed a kick in the East end with a southwest wind.


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