July 24, 2014

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Browns focus on Edwards’ brilliance, not his missteps

ST. LOUIS — Browns fans had seen it before.
The exuberant player unbuckling his chinstraps and yanking off his helmet to shout at the crowd. The flag flying with a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
But receiver Braylon Edwards will not be remembered as Dwayne Rudd. The Browns rallied behind Edwards on Sunday to beat the Rams 27-20, and there are no goats in victories, just embarrassed millionaires.
“I apologized to the team and coaches,” Edwards said. “I assumed that the (third) quarter was over with, so I just thought we were switching sides.
“That’s not the kind of player I am and that’s not what coach Romeo Crennel teaches. That’s not what I’m about and it will never happen again.”
In the 2002 opener, Rudd, a linebacker, thought the Browns had won, so he ripped off his helmet to scream at the Cleveland crowd. But the Kansas City quarterback had escaped the sack, the play continued and the penalty allowed the Chiefs to kick the winning field goal with no time on the clock.
“I remember that play,” said Edwards, who was at the University of Michigan.
Edwards’ enthusiasm came from lowering his shoulder and knocking over a Rams defensive back after catching a slant. Edwards kept on going and lowered his shoulder into another Ram, fighting for every last yard.
“I told Braylon I’d take my helmet off, too,” receiver Joe Jurevicius said. “He tried to run the whole team over. I’ll take 10 guys like that. It fired up the offense.”
Phil Dawson kicked a field goal on the drive to take some of the sting out of Edwards’ penalty. His drop on third-and-2 that would’ve all but sealed the win with less than two minutes remaining also became an afterthought when Leigh Bodden intercepted a pass to clinch the win.
“My team had my back,” Edwards said.
So Edwards’ day can be remembered for its brilliance. He caught eight passes to tie a career high, finishing with 117 yards and two touchdowns. Edwards has 37 catches for 669 yards (18.1 average) and a career-best nine touchdowns this year.
He was at his acrobatic best Sunday.
His 29-yard catch down the left sideline withstood a challenge when replays showed him dragging both feet despite his back being parallel to the sideline. He also made a diving catch on a pass purposely thrown behind him on the opposite sideline.
His first touchdown was a jump ball in the end zone, as he went right over cornerback Fakhir Brown. He beat Brown for the second score on a crossing route in the back of the end zone.
“He’ll drop one every once in awhile, but you know he’s going to fight for the next one,” quarterback Derek Anderson said. “I loved his energy today. I love it when he’s out there making plays like that.”
Edwards took a moment in his interview session to remember Denszelle Douglas, a Lakewood High School student who died Friday. Douglas’ body was rejecting the heart he received in a transplant in 2006, and Edwards visited him in the hospital Oct. 16.
“This is definitely an emotional game for myself after meeting the young man, talking to his parents, hoping that he was able to make it through and get to one of these events,” Edwards said. “I still dedicated this performance and the first touchdown to him.
“I’m glad we got a win, and my prayers go out to his family.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.