BEREA — The Browns aren’t used to this.
Major coverage on ESPN. Glowing headlines. Smiles on Monday morning.
The Browns don’t have much experience handling success — this was their 11th win since coach Romeo Crennel took over in 2005 and they haven’t won two in a row since October 2003 — but they seemed to have both feet on the ground in the aftermath of their record-setting 51-45 victory Sunday over Cincinnati.
“One win doesn’t do you anything in this league,” center Hank Fraley said. “You need more than one win to get to the playoffs. You just have to stay level-headed.”
If Bill Belichick weren’t a cheater, the Browns would’ve been the talk of the NFL on Sunday night and Monday morning. They came out of nowhere to send statisticians and historians flipping through the record books.
The 51 points were the most scored by the Browns since 1989 and tied for the fourth-most in team history. The 554 yards were the third-highest total in team history. They had a 300-yard quarterback (Derek Anderson), two 100-yard receivers (Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow) and a 100-yard rusher (Jamal Lewis) for the first time.
The stars came out.
“We executed on all cylinders,” said Winslow, who had his first 100-yard game. “But there were still a lot of plays to be made. We can improve on a couple things.”
While Winslow was trying to remain humble, he heaped praise on the offensive line. Lewis ran for 216 yards and Anderson wasn’t sacked and was hardly touched.
“The O-line protected the heck out of him,” Winslow said. “Those guys don’t get enough credit.”
The Bengals are a blitzing team that relies on pressure to disrupt the offense. The blitzes came Sunday, but the Browns had the answers.
“It was just being on the same page with Derek and the (running) backs,” Fraley said.
When the Bengals blitzes don’t reach the quarterback, their corners can be exposed in single coverage. The 37-yard touchdown to Edwards in the fourth quarter was a great example. Running back Jason Wright stopped the blitzing safety at the line of scrimmage, cornerback Leon Hall blew the coverage and Edwards ran free down the left sideline. Anderson nearly overthrew Edwards, but he made a diving catch and rolled into the end zone.
Crennel said that’s the kind of throw that ends up as an incompletion when things aren’t going your way, like they weren’t for Anderson in the preseason, when he couldn’t lead the offense to a touchdown. He was 20-for-33 for 328 yards, five touchdowns and an interception vs. the Bengals.
“In this business there’s a thin line between being good and bad,” Crennel said. “If you make a throw and the receiver dives for the ball and catches it, then it’s a good throw and a good play. If you make a throw and the receiver dives for the ball and drops it, then it’s not a good play. That’s how close it is.
“(Anderson’s) the same guy that we’ve had all along. We knew that the capabilities were there. It just, boom, they came to the front yesterday.”
Crennel is as steady as they come. He wasn’t about to get giddy just because he improved to 2-12 inside the AFC North.
“It’s the second game of the year. We are 1-1. I don’t know if this is the turning point or not,” he said. “If we win the rest of them, I can say this is a turning point game.”
Crennel tried to manage the hype that follows such a startling performance.
“What’s going to happen now is that a lot of these guys will be told they are the best thing since sliced bread,” he said. “We have to get these guys to understand that nothing has changed.”
Fraley got the message.
“Against Pittsburgh we brought our F-game. This game we brought our A-game,” he said. “We have a lot of talent. We displayed it. Now it’s about consistency and doing it every week and knowing you can do it every week.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.