Browns Improve to 2-1 Thanks to McCoy’s Late Game Heroics

Browns Corner Joe Haden (23) continues to shine for the Cleveland Defense. Haden was a huge part of the Browns 17-16 victory over the Dolphins, holding Miami's Pro-Bowl receiver, Brandon Marshall, to just 4 catches.

Most Cleveland Browns fans remember the “Kardiac Kids” from the 1980′s version of the Browns, led by Brian Sipe at quarterback.

Cleveland’s first three games have come-down to the 4th Qtr before being decided, leaving the possibility that this year’s Browns team could also be dubbed the modern-day version of the classic nickname. Browns QB, Colt McCoy, was awful for the first 55 minutes of the game against the Miami Dolphins, but was near perfection when it mattered most.

After Miami’s Dan Carpenter extended the Dolphins lead to 16-10 with a 38-yard field goal, Colt McCoy and the Browns offense took over from their own 20-yard line, with just 3:23 remaining in the contest. Despite struggling with his accuracy and ability to move the ball for the offense, McCoy looked poised, calm and ready to orchestrate what was sure to be the Browns final drive of the game.

McCoy started the drive with a 12-yard completion to wide receiver Mohammed Massaquoi, who was held in check for much of the day, that gave the Browns a 1st Down from their own 32. The next four plays were pass completions for McCoy, hitting rookie receiver Greg Little and Montario Hardesty – who started the day in place of the ill Peyton Hillis – to move the ball to the Miami 47.

On 1st & 10, McCoy launched a deep throw to Brian Robiskie – who failed to record a reception for the third-consecutive game – but Robiskie failed to haul-in the pass. Later in the drive, and facing 4th & 4 from the Miami 37, McCoy found Hardesty out of the backfield for the second time on the drive, leading to another Cleveland 1st Down.

The Browns nearly squandered away the ball game, but were aided by Jason Taylor’s off-sides penalty gave the Browns 3rd & 5 with just over a minute to go in the ball game. McCoy then found tight end Evan Moore for an 8-yard gain, giving the Browns another 1st Down this time from the Miami 14-yard line.

What happened next, gave the old-time Browns fans flashbacks to Sipe and the team of the 1980 NFL season, while giving the new era of Cleveland fans their own version of the “Kardiac Kids” in Cleveland.

With just under a minute remaining in the game, McCoy took the snap from the shotgun position, and found Massaquoi in the corner of the end-zone. MoMass, as he’s called by his teammates, made a remarkable catch for a touchdown, and tied the game at 16. Phil Dawson’s extra point gave the Browns the lead with just 43 seconds remaining in the game.

The Dolphins, however, still had an opportunity to win the game. Miami was given the ball on the Browns side of the field after a Dimitri Patterson horse collar penalty on the kickoff. Cleveland’s D held strong, and after a third straight incompletion, Miami’s Chad Henne was picked-off by Cleveland’s Mike Adams to seal the victory for the Browns.

Without Hillis, Montario Hardesty was given the start. Any questions about Hardesty’s knee, were certainly answered against the Dolphins today. Hardesty, who missed his entire rookie season with an ACL injury, the former Tennessee Volunteer recorded his first start of his young NFL career, rushing for 67 yards on 14 carries. His longest run of the day was 19 yards, and averaged 4.8 yards per carry.

Cleveland’s offense struggled early and often against a less-than-stellar Miami Defense. Heading into today’s game, Miami’s secondary had given-up the most yards through the air, of any defense in the NFL. On the Browns first possession of the game, McCoy was picked-off by Miami rookie, Jimmy Wilson, trying to scramble and convert on 3rd & 4.

The Browns D, who overall played well, allowed the Dolphins to convert the turnover into points when Chad Henne found rookie Daniel Thomas out of the backfield on a screen play for a 10-yard touchdown. The score gave the Dolphins an early 7-0 lead over the Browns.

On their next possession of the game, the Dolphins – led by Henne at QB – were once again moving the ball against the Cleveland D. After Thomas converted a 4th & 1 for the Dolphins, Henne found Marshall for a 9-yard gain, but two plays later, the Browns D flexed its muscle. Defensive End, Jayme Mitchell, forced a Reggie Bush fumbled, while linebacker D’Qwell Jackson added to his impressive stats with a fumble recovery. The turnover denied the Dolphins a red-zone opportunity, as the Browns offense took over from their own 22-yard line.

Colt McCoy finally got the offense moving in the 2nd Qtr for the Browns. After Miami’s Dan Carpenter missed wide-left on a 51-yard FG try, McCoy needed just 5 plays to reach the end-zone for the Browns’ first score of the game. On 1st & 10, McCoy launched the ball into the end-zone, receiver Joshua Cribbs made a spectacular play on the ball, leaping up over the defender for the touchdown. Dawson’s extra point tied the game at 7 with just over seven minutes to go in the first half.

Miami took the lead on Carpenter’s 23-yard field goal, and led 10-7 at the half.

Phil Dawson tied the game at 10 on Cleveland’s first possession of the second half, nailing a 30-yard field goal. The drive started with such promise, as the offense was able to work its way to the Miami 12 yard line before Dawson tied the game.

The Dolphins then turned to the rookie tailback, Daniel Thomas (who took-over for the fumblesome Reggie Bush last week), and chewed over 8 minutes of time off the clock. A 41-yard Carpenter field goal gave the Dolphins a 3-point lead heading into the final frame, as his team lead 13-10.

Cleveland’s offense continued to struggle in the 4th Qtr. The team’s first two possessions resulted in punts, with the last looking like it all but sealed Cleveland’s fate. However, Chad Henne and the Miami Offense were unable to sustain a lengthy drive, taking just 2:57 off the clock. They did manage to extend their lead to 6 on another Carpenter field goal, this time from 38-yards out.

Dolphins head coach, Tony Sporano, sure wishes they could’ve found a way to keep the ball out of McCoy’s hands, as the next possession was a heartbreaker for a Miami team that has usually played well on the road the last two season.

With Mike Adam’s interception of Chad Henne on 4th & 10, the Dolphins fell to 0-3 on the season, while the Browns improved their record to 2-1. The Browns could potentially be 3-0 on the season, but lost a heartbreaker to the Bengals in the 4th Qtr of week one.

The final from Cleveland Stadium – Browns 17 – Dolphins 16

Other Game Notes

– The Browns Defense recorded 5 sacks against the Dolphins, and 6 tackles for loss.

– Mike Adams 4th Qtr INT gave the Browns their second consecutive game with an INT. The team failed to secure a pick in their 4 preseason games.

– MLB D’Qwell Jackson led the team in tackles for the third consecutive week, recording 11 tackles (6 solo) and a half sack.

– Cleveland’s Defense showed why they have one of the best young d-lines in the NFL, Ahytyba Rubin and rookie Phil Taylor combined for 16 tackles (12 solo) and 2.5 sacks. They also combined for 2 TFL and 3 QB Hits.

– It may have gone unnoticed in the box score, but rookie DE Jabaal Sheard is quietly becoming a force on the line. He was only credited with 1 tackle on today’s game, but his constant pressure in the backfield allowed for his teammates to make some spectacular plays on defense.

– CB Joe Haden was stellar once again in the Browns secondary. A week after shutting-down Indianapolis’ Pro-Bowl WR, Reggie Wayne, Miami’s Brandon Marshall came to town with his Pro-Bowl talent. Haden, however, showed no fear, limiting Marshall to just 43 yards on 4 catches. Marshall’s frustration became evident when he was flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty in the second half.

– If the Browns are going to be successful on offense, McCoy is going to have to improve his accuracy. At Texas, McCoy was known for his accuracy and, in fact, led the NCAA by completing over 70% of his passes. Against a struggling Miami secondary, McCoy completed less than 50% of his passes, and often missed wide-open receivers during the game. McCoy finished with 210 yards, 2 Touchdowns and the 1 Interception.

– It appears that the Browns do, in fact, have some talent at the wide receiver position. Browns fans were frustrated when the team failed to secure a veteran receiver via free agency, especially when the team could’ve drafted Julio Jones in this year’s draft. However, rookie Greg Little and veterans Mohammed Massaquoi and Joshua Cribbs, have really emerged out of the receiver position. Little was McCoy’s favorite target on the last drive on the game, before finding Massaquoi for the game winning touchdown. Cribbs, who has often been limited to the return game, has saw his role expand as a receiver. Cribbs caught McCoy’s first touchdown pass of the game in the 2nd Qtr. Tight End Ben Watson, however, led the team in receiving with 5 catches for 64 yards.

Up Next For the Browns

The Browns, sportin’ a 2-1 record for the first time since 2002, will be tested at home once again in the early season, this time by the Tennessee Titans. The Titans have gotten of to a surprising 2-1 start, despite a sudden change at QB. With the team cutting ties with former starter, Vince Young, the front office called on former Seattle Seahawk Matt Hasselbeck to lead their offense. Look for my game preview later-on in the week.

Game Stats

Cleveland Browns – 19 FD, 3-11 3rd Down, 1-1 4th Down, 280 Total Yards on 58 Plays, 210 Passing Yards, 70 Rushing Yards, 1-2 in Red Zone, 8 Penalties for 85 Yards, 1 Turnover (INT), Time of Possession: 22:09

Miami Dolphins – 22 FD, 4-13 3rd Down, 1-2 4th Down, 369 Total Yards on 72 Plays, 231Passing Yards, 138 Rushing Yards, 1-3 in Red Zone, 10 Penalties for 93 Yards, 1 Turnover (FUM), Time of Possession: 37:51

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