Grading the Game: Browns

Despite winning their last four games, the Vikings are far from perfect and their grades against Cleveland reflect that.

PASSING OFFENSE: B — Nothing spectacular, but Brad Johnson continues to find ways to win, improving to 4-0 as the Vikings' starting quarterback. Johnson passed for a season-high 207 yards and three touchdowns. All three scoring passes went to receiver Marcus Robinson and equaled Johnson's total for the season entering the game.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C — The Vikings continued their inconsistent ways in this area, rushing for 81 yards (2.6 average) after going for 160 (4.3 average) in their previous game against Green Bay. The key was the Browns still had to respect the play-action pass. Running back Mewelde Moore led the way with 67 yards on 21 carries, behind an offensivee line that included a new starting left guard (Anthony Herrera) and right tackle (Marcus Johnson). While Herrera had a solid game, Johnson struggled and was benched on two occasions. He finished the game with five penalties, including three false-start calls during the first drive. Veteran Mike Rosenthal, who lost the starting job, replaced Johnson.

PASS DEFENSE: B-plus — The Vikings had a season-high five sacks, including two by rookie DT C.J. Mosley. Mosley entered the game in the first quarter after All-Pro Kevin Williams left because of injury. Mosley and LB Keith Newman both forced fumbles in Cleveland territory that resulted in turnovers and two touchdowns for Minnesota. FS Darren Sharper, who has six interceptions in the past four games, had two picks in the fourth quarter and also had four passes defensed. Sharper's first pick led to another Vikings touchdown. CB Antoine Winfield, matched up for much of the game against Browns rookie Braylon Edwards, also had an interception and three pass breakups.

RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus — NT Pat Williams continued to build on a Pro Bowl season, anchoring the middle and helping contain running back Reuben Droughns. Droughns had 73 yards on 19 carries (3.8 average), including a long of 14, and the Browns finished with 78 yards as a team. Pat Williams' play was especially important with Kevin Williams being forced out early.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C — A strength for the majority of the season, the kickoff coverage unit had some breakdowns against the Browns. Cleveland's Joshua Cribbs had five returns for an average of 31 yards, including a long of 48 yards in the third quarter. He also added a 47-yard return in the fourth quarter. K Paul Edinger made his only field-goal attempt, a 43-yarder in the first quarter. Koren Robinson fumbled away a kickoff return at the end of the second quarter, but the turnover wasn't costly because the half ended on the play.

COACHING: B — A month ago few believed Mike Tice would be employed by the Vikings much past Jan. 1, but the Vikings have turned things around with Tice at the helm. Tice and his coaches have led their team to four consecutive victories, and that streak should hit five on Sunday in Detroit. Tice is 7-0 against the Lions since taking over in Minnesota. Once in charge of a high-powered offense, Tice is now overseeing a team that is winning because of its defense and special teams. That was the case Sunday, as defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell's unit helped set up 21 points by the offense off turnovers.




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