The way the season has gone for the Browns, it was somewhat justice on Sunday that Panthers kicker John Kasay was wide on a 42-yard field goal attempt that would have sent the Browns to 3-8 on the season instead of 4-7.
Kasay’s 42-yard field goal attempt grazed the left upright as time expired, allowing the Browns to escape with a 24-23 win on a day when Jake Delhomme did little to make others forget about Colt McCoy.
Delhomme, the former Panther making his first start since week one, was 24-for-35 for 245 yards with two interceptions, one of which was returned for a score that took a Browns 21-13 lead to 21-20 in the third quarter.
“We just need to try to play better,” Delhomme said. “I wish I could give you something, we started off fast, but we hit a wall in the second quarter and certainly in the third. For the most part, we just had to do what we needed to do to win.”
Then after the teams traded field goals, the Panthers had a shot to win it after the Browns couldn’t put the game away after a late Joe Haden pick.
Kasay had a chance to win it after rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen drove them to Cleveland’s 25, completing a sideline pass to Brandon LaFell with five seconds left.
It would have been a crushing loss for the Browns, who led 21-7 at halftime. Peyton Hillis was the bulk of the Browns offense again, going for 131 yards and three touchdowns, and Delhomme passed for 245 yards in his first start at home for the Browns.
“It does mean a lot to win today,” Browns CB Sheldon Brown said. “At the end of the day, that’s what you fight for, and obviously we feel like we’ve been rewarded for practicing hard.”
The Browns improved to 2-5 in games decided by seven points or less.
Clausen was 16-for-28 for 195 yards with a pick. He did get the team in position to win though, but Kasay just couldn’t convert, much to the delight of Browns fans.
Next week the Browns head to Florida for the third time this year as they will take on the Miami Dolphins.