The Rats are 7-7. The glorious Browns are 7-7. Let's rock.
As the game starts, the Cincinnati Bengals are tied with the New Orleans Saints, proving that anything is possible... even a Browns playoff berth. If they want to stay in the hunt, they need to kick some Rat butt today.
Andre Davis grabs the kick-off and gets it back to the 31, but there's a ten-yard holding penalty on the return. Isn't this where we left off last week?
Let's get to work. Couch and the offense take the ball at the 18. With Rat fans incessantly ringing cowbells for some unknown reason, Green heads around end and gets a yard. The Browns give Green the ball again on second down, and again Green goes right. This time he puts a move on the Rats replacement LB Hartwell and gets if forward three yards. Couch drops and has time despite a Ratbird offsides, and hooks up with KJ for just enough room to snag a first down.
On first down, Couch quiets the Baltimore crowd with a quick strike to Morgan at the 48. Moving the ball... now the team goes Green to the left. It was a draw that wasn't working, so Green bounced outside.
Find the Ratfan with the cowbell and kill him. Please.
Now Couch drops again and connects with KJ for three yards. Morgan stretched the safeties deep and KJ went underneath. Green gets the handoff on the ensuing first down and trundles forward for two yards. The Ratbirds are entirely focused on stopping the run so far. Couch tosses to Heiden in the flat for another couple, and we've got another third down. This time, Couch has a lot of time back in the shotgun, but couldn't connect. The Browns go for it on 4th and 7, and Couch finds Morgan again in the hole in the zone. Zing! Nice pass.
Now the Browns have it first down on the 17 of the Ratbirds. Barry Stokes pulls and Green follows him for three yards. Now a run works... Couch fakes a pitch to KJ, and hands off to Green who breaks off a nice run to the five yard line. Let's see if we can score from there this week... Stokes pulls again and Green follows him for three yards. But now William Green is down on the field.
Dammit, dammit, dammit. Get up William. Now we look at commercials. Die, CBS, die. Die!
We're back, and informed that Green got off the field under his own power. On second down, Couch rolls right, and tosses to a wide open Jamel White in the end zone. White bobbles it, and it's third down. The hardest working running back in pro football follows an offensive line that pushed Baltimore back into the end zone and we have a touchdown! NICE DRIVE!! Browns 7, Ratbirds 0.
I'm going to ignore the kick off and couple of plays. I'm doing this partially because dopes like me can't do play-by-plays, but partially because I'm eating jalapeno potato chips and need another beer.
OK, I'm back. The Rats have somehow weaselled their way to mid-field, and run Lewis on a second-and-one. STUFFED! They try it again, and this time Lewis makes the first. First and ten for the Rats on the Browns 45.
Hambrick makes a tackle on a pass and does a little dance. Based on the audio, the Ratfans don't like the dance. I don't really like the dance either, because it looks a little flaky, but whatever. Now Blake runs arounds Kenard Langs side again and gets a first-down. Then Lewis bulls forward for another five, and the Rats are suddenly on the Browns 25. Heap catches a pass and they're on the 13. Lewis is swarmed on the next play, and held without a gain. Second down. Blake throws a little screen to Chester Taylor, and he's stuffed after a yard. Blake has plenty of time again on third down, but he misses Taylor. HA! Kick the ball, Rats.
Art Modell's biggest fan, Matt "Need some cream in your coffee, sir?" Stover, drills a field goal, and it's now Browns 7, Ratbirds 3
White is still in and gets the ball on a draw which goes for six yards.
Green's return is questionable, we're told, and White immediately gets a pass to take the ball up close to mid-field. A reverse is read by the Rat defense, and Andre Davis gets caught in the backfield.
Green is back in, gets the ball and goes nowhere. It's third and very long. This wakes up the Baltimore crowd, which might have helped cause KJ to jump early. The Browns move five yards further back. Now we've got a third and 19. The Browns try to fool the Rats with a draw, and it doesn't work. The Browns are punting from around their thirty. Gardocki pounds it, forces Lamont Brightful back... the ball bounces off his left shoulderpad, and he manages to recover it himself all the back around the twenty. Nice.
Heap makes a nice catch around the 26, and the Rats are on the move again. Then Jamal Pewis pops forward to the thirty-two. Where's the defense?
False start, Ravens. That helps. Brian Billick does his sad little "why aren't they smart like me?" headshake. Blake tosses a little flare to Heap, who is met instantly and gets only a couple. Chester Taylor then gets the ball, and keeps moving forward until Griffith meets him at the forty. Nice run, and a first down. Blake tosses again to Heap - the Ravens are playing things very safe - and that gets another four yards. Churn, churn, churn.
Blake has plenty of time again, and he connects to Hymes for a first down... two runs net nine yards, giving the Rats another third-and-one. Blake rolls out and connects to Travis Taylor for about ten yards and a first down. Rats now on the twenty, and the Browns defense is just not making plays.
Blake has all day on second down, but only gets two yards on a little toss to Jamal Lewis. Now it's third-and-seven and the Browns will hopefully bring the horses to put Blake under pressure. Nope. Blake has plenty of time and he connects to Travis Taylor who breaks a tackle and scores a touchdown. The score is now Ratbirds 10, Browns 7 and Foge Fazio's job should be in jeopardy. The defensive performance is poor, particularly with respect to the pass rush, and even Brian Billick looks like an offensive genius against this bland scheme.
The Browns keep it on the ground when they get the ball back. Good. Keep the defense off the field... as long as you get first downs. Third and three. Couch has time and tries to connect to Morgan, who is clearly being pushed with a hand to his shoulder. Interference, first down, and Couch had good time.
First and ten from the thirty-three. Couch has all day and fires long to Mark Campbell. It's complete, but an illegal motion against KJ kills the play. Now it's first and fifteen. That's a drive-killer. Mistakes...
Couch goes back to the line and gives to Green. The rookie slips a little on the lousy Baltimore turf, but goes forward seven. But now there's holding on Mark Campbell and the Browns continue to move backwards... now to the 18... mistakes, mistakes. First and 25. A nice little screen to Jamel White works very well. White turns on the jets and goes 22 yards. We're now at the two-minute warning, with the Browns on the move, close to mid-field.
Couch is audibling at the line, a run gets a couple. Couch then has to scramble away from Peter Boulware and he throws it to the Ratbird bench. Now the Browns are punting from near mid-field with a shade under two minutes left.
The Rats take the field at the twenty-five and they've been moving the ball on the patented Foge Fazio "Vanilla Custard" defense. Matt Cavanaugh licks his lips and prepares to salvage his job...
First down, safe little run. Anthony Henry waves at Jamal Lewis who rumbles to mid-field.
And then.... a SHOCKER! The Browns blitz Brant Boyer, who brings down Jeff Blake with the Browns first sack (and first even-close-to-sack) of the day. That slows down the Rats, who take a time out with fifty-two seconds remaining.
Second and 18, 52 seconds left. Illegal formation, five yards back. Second and 23, 52 seconds. Blake drops, fires long, and Hymes and Henry push each other down the field and neglect to catch the ball. Third and 23, 46 seconds. Blake drops back again, scrambles, and is pulled down after about six yards. Now Cleveland takes a time out to try to get the ball back and do something.
Zastudil slips on the turf and gets off a bad punt, but the Rats get a lucky roll and it goes down to the fifteen. White is in behind Couch, and picks his way to about the 18 yard line. That's it, and the Browns head to the locker room for halftime.
Ratbirds 10, Browns 7
The Browns are looking OK defensively, and the defensive push gets a sack for Lang. But then the Rats have a huge hole for Lewis to run through. Fortunately, Earl Little steps up and makes the play... the ensuing pass to Ron Johnson is incomplete as Henry is draped all over the Ratbird WR. The Rats are forced to punt again.
Andre Davis takes the ball up to the 37 on a punt, but AGAIN there is a block in the back penalty which moves the ball back. It would save us all time if they would just throw the flag before the play and we just took the ball ten yards in front of where it landed. Lots of mistakes holding the Browns back again.
The Browns get the ball back, and again run on the first play. Green goes right for five. Now the Browns push straight forward, and it's another six for Green. First down. Nice.
Swing pass to Green goes nowhere, and the Browns have second and ten from the forty. Rats show blitz, Couch blitzes, and Green goes up the middle for exactly zero. Third and twelve and the drive is stalling. Need a big play here. Couch in the shotgun and fires a BULLET to Andre Davis. First down! That was a very nice pass by Couch, if a little high.
The Browns keep it on the ground on first down on the forty-nine. Boulware blocks off Green's cutback and Adalius Thomas nails Green two yards back. Couch then is in another passing situation, drops, and is picked off by Anthony Mitchell.
Unlike the Browns, the Ravens go downfield on first down. Heap doesn't catch it, and the subsequent reverse to Travis Taylor doesn't work because Mark Word stayed where he was supposed to be. Third and ten. Black under pressure, but tosses through a hole in the line to Todd Heap for a first down. Chains move, and the Rats are at their on 49. The Rats again go long, this time to Travis Taylor, and Corey Fuller is with him every step of the way. Fuller is having a great year. Second and ten. Blake has all day, but misses his reciever to make it third and ten.
On the third and long, Fuller gets called for pass interference. It's a nonsense call, because Fuller got pushed first, but it goes the Rats way so they get a first down. THe Rats are getting breaks today and have the ball at the thirty-four.
Despite the break, the Rat offense keeps mis-firing. Blake throws a swing pass which is dropped on first down. Lewis tries to get outside on second-and-ten, but Rudd makes a cameo appearance to stop the running back after a yard. Now it's third and long again. Blake gets Heap again, but he's stopped short of the first down. Matt Stover takes a break from waxing Art Modell's car to nail a 43-yard field goal and it's Ratbirds 13, Browns 7
Browns take over on the sixteen after an ill-advised runback by Andre Davis from the middle of his own end zone. Couch comes out again, and the Browns are in the "I". He connects to Andre Davis, and the Browns get two yards. Couch is under pressure, spins out, and connects with Green for another four yards. On third and five, cowbells ring, and Couch goes into the shotgun. Couch connects to KJ, and he stretches forward to get a first down.
Green gets the ball up the middle and nets two yards. Second and eight. It looks to me like Boulware leaves early on second down, but it's not called, and he blindsides Couch for a sack. It's now third and eighteen, and again Couch is in a difficult situation. Whether it's the noise or an unsettling defense, Couch takes a timeout. Couch in the shotgun is hurried and throws underneath to White. It was a good play by Couch, but it's not enough for a first down and Gardocki punts short. Predictably enough, the punt bounces backwards into Cleveland territory. The Browns aren't getting breaks and aren't making plays. The team looks uninspired.
Now the Ravens want to grind it out with Lewis. Lewis cuts back for a quick five yards as Gerard Warren is pushed onto his butt. The ball comes out on a toss sweep and Lewis goes back ten yards to get the ball. He reverses field, and runs back to the right. A clip isn't called and Lewis gets back to near the original line of scrimmage. Baltimore makes a mistake, but doesn't pay a price. Third and long from the Browns 48.
Blake connects to Heap, but he's short. The Rats try to get the Browns to jump on fourth down, but they don't, and the Rats are forced to kick it away. Zastudil's punt winds up at the sixteen, and the Browns again face a long field.
Green up the middle nets six, and Couch connects on the next play for a first down. But then, on first down, Boulware again gets a quick jump, runs through Ryan Tucker and forces Couch down. It's now second and 18. Couch is put under intense pressure, and rolls out. He tosses the ball nicely to Mark Campbell who is wide open and gets up to the 25. Campbell idiotically reacts to McAllister's jawing after the play, and is called for unsportsmanlike conduct. Browns move halfway to the goal line, and the Browns are in a third and 25. The Browns get lucky with an encroachment call and it becomes a 3rd-and-20 challenge for the Browns. Couch in the shotgun. Couch has time, but underthrows Quincy Morgan.
After a nice punt by Gardocki, the Rats are still in good field position at their forty.
The Ravesns are going to Lewis with eleven minutes left, the lead, and good field position. That's exactly what I would do if I were them. Blake throws on third-and-two and screws up a simple toss to Heap, so the Rats punt the ball back.
Browns get it on the twenty... comparatively good field position for them. Another surprise, they throw on first down, complete to KJ. Green runs it up to a second-and-two. He gets it again and runs with Ed Reed on his back for four more yards. First down!
Couch makes an ill-advised pass downfield, but gets lucky and it's not picked. He fires at Campbell again, but leads him too much. Now it's third and 10 as the crowd gets into it. Couch throws it nicely to Morgan, but Gary Baxter makes a solid play to knock the ball loose.
The Rats get the ball back deep in their own territory after a nice punt by Gardocki. Blake drops on first down and throws the ball to nowhere. Jamal Lewis pushes forward for four yards and it's third and six. Blake has all day on third down and again finds Todd Heap for a first down.Now the Rats have moved out of a bad position in their own territory. They have the ball on their 26 with a first down. Blake gets the Browns to bite on a fake but throws a horrible pass which falls harmlessly to the ground. Dwayne Rudd does a good job of showing how irritated he was not to make the interception. The Rats then toss to Jamal Lewis who bursts forward to get a first down. Rudd and Rogers look bad as he gets 11 yards for the first down. The Rats run Lewis at Rogers and Rudd again and get sixyards. Tick, tick, tick, the clock is down to 4:30. Second and four. Lewis up the middle for three, and it's third and one. Clock runs under four minutes. Blake has all day again, underthrows Travis Taylor, but the WR gets the ball for a first down on the Browns 44.
The Ratbirds run their fullback up the middle, and get another six against the tired Browns defense down to the Browns 38. The clock is now down to 2:48, and the vaunted Browns defense is unable to stop a mediocre Rats offense from moving down the field. The Browns burn a timeout, and Kenard Lang wraps up Jamal Lewis at the linde of scrimmage. Two minutes, thirty-seven and the Rats have a third and five. Cleveland is out of timeouts. Lewis gets a pitch and goes out of bounds at the thirty-five yard line. That's a little break for Cleveland. The Rats punt from the 50. The punt takes a Ravens roll (of course) and the Browns have to go 93 yards in a little over two minutes (with no timeouts). In other words, business as usual.
First down. Couch fires to King out of shotgun. Two straight completions to Andre King gets the ball out to around the Browns 30. Couch again downfield to Morgan. Bang! Browns at mid-field. Couch misfires, throwing behind Morgan, and it falls incomplete. 1:37 left.
Jamal White catches the ball short around the fifty, pops to the outside and rambles down to the 20 of the Ravens! And gets a late hit!! Wow! Cardiac who? Unreal.
The Browns have it at the sixteen, with 1:26 left. Plenty of time. Couch back again, fires, complete to KJ!! The Browns have the ball at the one yard line with a minute left!! Baltimore calls time out and the clock is stopped with a minute left.
This is it. Here we go again. One yard to victory.
Campbell in motion. Green jumps forward. He reaches over the end zone, but doesn't get the call. The officials decide to review the play. It's a weird play... the officials have to decide if Green was down when he reached over the goal line with the ball. They call Green's progress as stopped just short of the goal line. Again, the Browns look to run it up the middle.. Couch rolls out instead and tosses to Campbell in the end zone! TOUCHDOWN!!!!
Browns 14, Ratbirds 13
The Browns kick-off deep and a possible reverse on the runback is crushed quickly. 24 seconds left. Word pressures Blake, who throws incomplete. 18 seconds left. It's Hail Mary time.
Blake heaves it deep, the ball bounces around, and Michael Jameson snares the interception. GAME OVER!! BROWNS WIN!!