Cleveland—If it only counted.
The third preseason game is usually billed the dress rehearsal for the regular season as coaching staffs prepare their starters for the regular season, as most coaches rest their starters in the final preseason game.
The Browns prevailed 23-17 over the Titans, who were 13-3 in 2008. The Browns improve to 2-1 with the preseason finale next Thursday at Chicago.
And they looked pretty good in doing so.
Brady Quinn appeared to take control of the quarterback battle as he put 13 points on the board and finished 11-of-15 for 128 yards and a touchdown.
Meanwhile, Derek Anderson looked sharp, as well, leading a drive for a field goal and finishing 7-of-11 for 77 yards. Anderson moved the team, but was sacked and victimized by penalties.
"The thing that I was happiest with and the stuff that I talked with the guys about before the game was there's going to be adversity in the game and how we respond to it is going to be important," Eric Mangini said. "I thought the defense did a nice job forcing the fumble at the end of the first half and then also, special teams being able to block that field goal, to gain back some momentum. "
After stopping the Titans on a quick three-and-out to start the game, the Browns returned the favor. After the Browns punt, the Titans moved down the field on their second possession and scored a touchdown with 4:59 to play as Kerry Collins hit Justin Gage for a six-yard touchdown to make it 7-0.
A big play was a 15-yard pass from Collins to Chris Johnson that put the ball on the Browns' nine after Collins fumbled the snap. Two plays later, Collins threw a perfect ball to the corner of the end zone and Gage kept both feet in bounds as he beat Rod Hood. The Titans went 75 yards in 12 plays consuming 6:06 on the drive.
Mangini said there are areas the team still needs to work on.
"We have to get some sustained drives, do a better job in the running game, better job situationally, offensively."
The Browns answered with a nice drive after the Titans' score, but it stalled at the Titans' four. Phil Dawson kicked a 21-yard field goal with 12:51 to play in the first half. The Browns went 75 yards in 13 plays taking 7:08 off the clock.
The Titans answered back with a long drive to the Browns' 10, but when the drive stalled the Titans attempted a field goal by Rob Bironas. However, Robaire Smith broke through and batted it down and Brandon McDonald picked up the loose ball and returned it to the Browns' 13.
Derek Anderson took over at quarterback at the 13 and hit Mohamed Massaquoi for 14 yards and then found Braylon Edwards for 25 yards to the Titans' 39. However, a sack and a penalty moved them back where they were forced to punt.
Vince Young came in and ran the hurry up offense near the end of the first half and moved the Titans down field quickly. Corey Ivy was called for pass interference at the Browns' 16 with 18 seconds to play. A 10-yard pass to Gage took the ball to the four with 13 seconds to play. However, Young took off and fumbled the ball near the goal line and Brandon McDonald scooped up the ball to thwart the drive.
The half ended with the Titans leading 7-3.
Anderson came out to start the third quarter and led the Browns 43 yards down field until they stalled and picked up a 27-yard field goal by Dawson to make it 7-6 with 8:07 to play in the third quarter. Anderson hit Mike Furrey for two first downs on the drive. Anderson was 3-of-6 for 23 yards on the drive that lasted 6:53. A third down attempt to hit Braylon Edwards in the end zone just missed as Edwards made a spectacular one-handed catch, but could only keep one foot in bounds.
The Browns took the lead for the first time at 13-7 as Quinn found Edwards for a 20-yard score. After the Browns' field goal, the Titans fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and Robert McCune hit the returner and Kaluka Maiva recovered at the Titans' 34. It took the Browns just 51 seconds as Quinn returned and he hit Lewis on the first play for 14 yards to the 20. Immediately thereafter, Quinn hit Edwards on a quick slant for the score between DeMarcus Faggins and Nick Schommer with 7:01 to play.
The Browns extended their lead to 20-7 with 5:49 to play in the third quarter as Alex Hall snagged an intended screen pass from Young and strolled into the end zone from 11 yards out. Robaire Smith was in Young's face as he released the ball.
Trailing 20-7, the Titans moved the ball for a touchdown as the Titans went 80 yards in 2:42 in just five plays. With 3:07 to play, the score was 20-14 as Young hit tight end Matthew Mulligan for a 15 yard touchdown. The big play on the drive was when Young scrambled for 23 yards and a face mask penalty on Kamerion WImbley made it a 38 yard gain to Browns' territory. A short pass to Quinton Ganther took the ball to the 15. Young then hit Mulligan on a roll out for the score as he beat D'Qwell Jackson.
After the touchdown, Josh Cribbs had a 42-yard return to give the Browns good field position. From there, Quinn returned to start the fourth quarter and drove the Browns 45 yards to the Titans' 14 before Dawson ended up kicking his third field goal of the game to make it 23-14 with 12:41 to play. Quinn hit Cribbs for 13 yards to start the drive and a 16-yard run by James Davis took the ball to the 21. A third down attempt for the touchdown just sailed over the hands for Steve Heiden.
The Titans trimmed the lead to 23-17 after Young led a 67-yard 8:12 drive, but stalled at the Browns' 15 as Bironas kicked a 32-yard field goal with 4:29 to play.
The Browns were able to hold on to the ball the rest of the way to preserve the win. At the two-minute warning the Browns were faced with fourth-and-one in Titans' territory and Mangini elected to go for it and Noah Herron was able to pick up the first down with yards to spare and the Browns were able to run out the clock.
QB Derby: QB Brady Quinn started and had a three-and-out on the first series. The first play was a low pass he bounced to WR Josh Cribbs. Quinn was 1-of-2 for 8 yards on the first series. Quinn was 6-of-7 for 66 yards on the second series and led the Browns to a 21-yard field goal by K Phil Dawson . For the half, Quinn was 7-of-9 for 74 yards. QB Derek Anderson entered the game with 5:39 to play. Starting at the 13, Anderson quickly hit WR Mohamed Massaquoi for 14 yards and then he hit WR Braylon Edwards for 25 yards to the Titans' 39. On the next play, Anderson was sacked for an eight-yard loss. A false start and incomplete pass moved the Browns back into their own territory and they had to punt. Anderson was 4-of-5 for 54 yards with one sack. At the half, Anderson's QB rating was 111.7, while Quinn's was 104.8.
Anderson started the third quarter. His first pass hit TE Robert Royal in the numbers, but he dropped it. He hit WR Braylon Edwards for a first down on a quick slant. Anderson tried to hit Edwards deep, but the ball was on the wrong side. Anderson found Furrey for the first down to the Titans' 37. Anderson received a huge break when he threw a pass right into the arms of Titans' DB Tanard Davis, who popped it up in the air to Furrey for a first down. Anderson threw to the end zone to Edwards and he made a spectacular one-handed catch but was out of bounds with one foot. Anderson's drive ended in a 27-yard field goal by Dawson to make it 7-6. The drive was 13 plays and 43 yards spanning 6:53. In the third quarter, Anderson was 3-of-6 for 23 yards and a QB rating of 59.7.
Quinn came in and was 2-of-2 for 34 yards and a touchdown in leading the Browns to their first touchdown as he hit WR Braylon Edwards for a 20-yard touchdown. Quinn was 9-of-11 for 108 yards with a touchdown. Quinn led the Browns to a field goal to open the fourth quarter. He finished the night at 11-of-15 for 128 yards with a touchdown He was a 4-of-4 for 54 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter with a perfect QB rating of 158.3.
For Starters: Defensively, S Mike Adams started in place of S Brodney Pool , while LB Alex Hall started in place of LB David Bowens and DL Ahtyba Rubin started in place of DL Shaun Rogers. Offensively, Alex Mack stated at center with Floyd Womack at right guard and John St. Clair at right tackle. Josh Cribbs started at wide receiver opposite of WR Braylon Edwards. The Browns employed two tight ends early on with Steve Heiden and Robert Royal on the field together.
Alex's Time: Not only did LB Alex Hall get a start, but he made the most of it as he intercepted a pass from QB Vince Young and returned it 11 yards for a touchdown.
Robaire's Revenge: DL Robaire Smith broke through and blocked a field goal attempt by K Rob Bironas in the second quarter. Smith formerly played for the Titans and he is returning after rupturing his Achilles last season. Smith also factored in Alex Hall's interception for a touchdown as he pressured QB Vince Young into the throw.
Big D: DB Mike Adams and LB D'Qwell Jackson led the Browns with five tackles, while DB Eric Wright had four.
Short Game: The Browns quarterbacks threw a lot of short passes and the two leading receivers were running backs as RB Jamal Lewis had four receptions for 36 yards and RB James Davis had four receptions for 27 yards. Davis also rushed for 28 yards on five carries with a long of 16 yards.
Braylon: WR Braylon Edwards had three receptions for 51 yards , including a 20-yard touchdown from QB Brady Quinn. He nearly made a sensational one-handed touchdown, but one foot came down out of bounds on a pass from Anderson.
Weird Call: The officials called an unsportsmanlike penalty on QB Derek Anderson on the sidelines for tripping an official. The ruling was Anderson was past the area that players are allowed to be. The play was a deep ball that was overthrown by QB Kerry Collins.
Mangini Adds Ex-NFL Official: Leaving no stone unturned, Mangini has added a former NFL official to his staff to help the coaching staff with evaluating whether or not they should challenge calls during a game, as well as instructing the players and staff on what the officials are looking for during a game.
Dick McKenzie was an official for 17 years and then spent 10 years evaluating officials in the NFL office. He is from Lorain County and his son, Dana, is currently in his second year as an NFL official. Due to the elder McKenzie's affiliation with the Browns, the crew of Don Carey will not do any Browns games this season.
Mangini spoke about the move this past week.
"What I'm hoping to do there is have someone in the booth for replays that really understands not just the calls and the rule, but there are nuances to each rule and there's things that are challengeable, but really unlikely that you're going to get.
"There are things that are challengeable and you have a higher percentage of getting something overturned. You have to make that decision."
Mangini is hoping the move will help the Browns to cut down on penalties, as well.
"I think having someone who has insight into that is valuable," he said. "He'll also work with our local officials and help them become better officials, so that are players get a more realistic sense of how things are going to be called and that will have value."