For the first half, the Browns held the Minnesota Vikings in check. However, what had been a dogfight quickly turned into a runaway freight train in the second half as the Vikings imposed their will and excellent rushing attack on the Browns in a 34-20 victory.
As close as the contest was in the first half, the Vikings were dominant when it mattered most, led by the spectacular Adrian Peterson.
Despite running the ball effectively at times in the first half, the Vikings offensive game plan quickly changed, as did the complexion of the game.
Peterson reeled off 155 of his 180 yards rushing in the second half of the game, with the majority of the yardage coming after the Vikings offensive adjusted to the Cleveland defense at halftime.
Throughout the contest, the Vikings pressured the Browns' offense, but it wasn't until the second half when the Vikings turned up the heat offensively and the Browns wilted.
Browns Offense vs. Minnesota Defense
- You cannot win in this league if you play not to lose. The Browns offensive game plan, or what was displayed on the playing field, was simply sad.
- A third-quarter interception hurt the Browns desperately. The misfire between Brady Quinn and Braylon Edwards cost the Browns an opportunity to change the complexion of the game. Edwards readily admits the interception was due to him breaking off a route, which Quinn did not anticipate. But, Edwards made the correct read, as he easily beat the defender to the inside and would have scored -- if Quinn would have been on the same page.
- Want to talk about a lack of respect? The Minnesota Vikings lined up and challenged the Browns' offense repeatedly and the Browns offensive unit buckled under the pressure.
- The Browns offense was so concerned about the Minnesota pass rush, or lack of trust in the right side of the offensive line, that the offense took few chances. Even when the Minnesota defense loaded the box, Quinn and this Cleveland offense did not display the ability to attack the Vikings defense.
- Simply put, Quinn struggled. With little imagination installed in the game plan, the Browns' offense appeared to settle for anything positive on the playing field, with little confidence shown throughout the first two-plus quarters of the game. Despite the struggles of this offense, and that of Quinn, the young QB needs to play and gain experience and exposure.
- Due to the Vikings walking their safeties up on numerous occasions, man coverage was there to be exposed. Rather than instill the threat of a vertical presence, the Browns' offense checked down to delayed running plays and dumps in the flat. When the Vikings went with man coverage there were no answers, just as the Browns offensive playmakers failed to exploit the seams in the Minnesota cover-two scheme.
- On numerous occasions throughout the ballgame, the Browns did have receivers come open in the Vikings secondary. Either the protection broke down, Quinn held onto the ball too long or the QB simply did not see the play developing. While the coaching staff is questioned as to the basis of the game plan, the QB and remaining offensive players must be held accountable for a poorly executed plan on the playing field. The Vikings pass rush hurried Quinn throughout and removed the possibility of plays developing more than ten yards down the field.
- Say what you will about RB Jamal Lewis, the veteran RB came to play, played well and wasn't the reason why this team failed miserably on Sunday.
- Speaking of the right side of the offensive line, RG Floyd Womack was brutalized on numerous occasions by DT Kevin Williams, resulting in a sack and an array of QB pressures. RT John St. Clair did little to create a calming influence for the Browns' offense, as the veteran was often pushed back into the pocket.
- Rookie center Alex Mack played reasonably well, especially in facing the likes of Pat and Kevin Williams. The rookie did not make any monumental mistakes and his initial baptism under fire came away with some positive results.
- All-Pro LT Joe Thomas did a solid job against one of the best pass rushers in the game, Jared Allen. Allen was a non-factor throughout, despite gaining a couple QB pressures.
Minnesota Offense vs. Browns Defense
- The Minnesota offense steered away from Brett Favre being placed in third-and-long situations in the second half. On one occasion which helped turn the tide in this game, Favre found TE Visanthe Shiancoe on a screen pass, keeping a touchdown drive alive.
- Throughout the first half, the Browns' defense played disciplined defense. The defense contained and maintained gap integrity, despite Minnesota having some success running behind LG Steve Hutchinson. DE Robaire Smith and OLB David Bowens struggled against Hutchinson, LT Bryant McKinnie and a TE in numerous sets. Despite the success, the Vikings often were caught in third-and-long situations, with Favre holding onto the ball too long, as the Browns disguised their sets and blitzed off the edges.
- Whereas the Vikings appeared content early to run between the tackles and fight for yardage, the second half was an entirely different story. Minnesota came out of the break looking to establish their ground game and the Browns had little to counter with. Lacking support wide and unable to fill off-tackle, Peterson simply ran wild in the second half, which appeared to demoralize this Cleveland defense.
- An overall lack of physicality and quickness from sideline to sideline was a key component in the Browns' loss, as was the inability of defensive backs to get off blocks set by receivers and backs. If the Browns get off their blocks, Peterson does not rumble, nearly untouched, for 10 yards per carry in the second half.
- The ability of the Minnesota offensive players to beat the Browns' defenders to the point of attack in the second half was significant. The lateral pursuit of the Cleveland defense was sub-par, as the Vikings imposed their physicality and execution on the Browns. In many cases, the perimeter defense of the Browns, an area this coaching staff emphasized throughout training camp, was exposed time and time again in the second half.
- The difference between the first and second half on the defensive side of the ball also can be attributed to the Browns' inability to execute. Often, the recognition was late, the incorrect angle taken or tackles were simply missed. Whereas the defense was reasonably sharp and effective in the first half, the second half was one which would be expected in the first week of training camp.
- Despite the defensive woes for the Browns, there was some outstanding play in this game. Safeties Brodney Pool and Abe Elam made play after play in the first half. Whether by blitzing and disrupting the timing of the Minnesota passing game or assisting in stuffing the run, both safeties played reasonably well.
- NT Shaun Rogers clogged the interior of the line consistently. On a couple rare occasions, Rogers penetrated and was caught out of position.
- For one half, LB's Eric Barton, D'Qwell Jackson and Kamerion Wimbley filled the gaps admirably. Wimbley also recorded a sack and a QB pressure in the process. In the second half, the Vikings ran stretch plays, minimizing the impact of the Cleveland ILB's and exposing the OLB's -- which Wimbley was one of the culprits over the final 30 minutes of play.
Player of the Game
- Once again, KR/WR Josh Cribbs proved to be one of, if not the best kick returners in the game. Taking a Chris Kluwe punt at the 33-yard line, Cribbs split between two seal blocks by LB Alex Hall and WR Mohamed Massaquoi and raced 67 yards for a TD.