Sit and wait. That is now the mindset of the Cleveland Browns as they must await the result of tonight’s Titans at Colts matchup at the RCA Dome. A Colts win, and they are in the playoffs – a Titans win, and they end what has been a great season with 10 wins, but short of the playoffs mostly due to a letdown last week vs. the rival Bengals in Cincinnati.
Sunday at home against the lowly 49’ers, the Browns played hard, and they used their starters all day in beating San Fran 20-7. Josh Cribbs, who is headed to Hawaii playoffs or not, had another great day in the return department, taking one punt back 53 yards and then later on in the first quarter taking one 76 yards to the house to make it 7-0 Browns. On the day, Cribbs had 4 punt returns for 135 yards.
Derek Anderson started at QB for the Browns, and while he was not fantastic, he did the job, throwing 11-of-20 for 152 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The TD gave the Browns a 14-0 edge, as he hit Pro Bowl wide out Braylon Edwards from 45 yards out to make it 14-0 Cleveland with 11:44 left in the first half. Jamal Lewis led the Browns solid run game once again, pounding out 128 yards on 26 carries.
For the Niners, Chris Weinke was the starter at QB, and while he hit a few throws, overall he was rather ineffective, going just 13-for-2 for 104 yards with one TD. The 49’ers offense, which will for sure be revamped in the offseason, had just 185 total yards. Weinke was also sacked five times for a minus 31 yards.
San Fran ends the season at 5-11. There will be a lot of speculation about the future of coach Mike Nolan, who said postgame that until he meets with the teams owners, he will not comment on his or the teams future. They will for sure be letting go of some assistants, as if Nolan is lucky enough to survive, his coaching staff will not be.
The Browns can walk away proud of the way they played throughout the 2007 season. Playoffs or not, they overachieved what many thought they would, and while it would be bittersweet for them to miss the playoffs at 10 wins, they have a bright future ahead of them and should be a force in the AFC for years to come.