CLEVELAND – The Browns showed some resiliency in the second quarter to take a 14-10 lead into halftime.
They rebounded from a 3-0 deficit with a 98-yard drive, sparked by a 44-yard catch-and-run to tight end Ben Watson, who showed good speed.
After a Seneca Wallace interception was returned 33 yards for a touchdown by Brandon Flowers, Wallace hit Joshua Cribbs for a 65-yard touchdown to put the Browns back in front 14-10.
Wallace made a perfect throw to Cribbs on a post pattern behind Brandon Carr. The Browns faced third-and-1 and went with a running formation – two tight ends, a fullback and Cribbs as the only receiver – and faked a handoff to Peyton Hillis.
Wallace hit Cribbs in stride at the 28-yard line, and Cribbs stepped out of a diving Carr tackle attempt inside the 10.
Flowers’ interception had Browns coach Eric Mangini steaming. The Browns lost the opener to Tampa Bay because of a Jake Delhomme interception and Hillis fumble, and Mangini preaches the importance of ball security all the time.
Wallace threw off his back foot late toward Chansi Stuckey on the sideline. That’s a bad combination.
The Browns’ first touchdown ended a 98-yard drive, which was kept alive with an illegal contact penalty on linebacker Mike Vrabel on third-and-goal from the 5-yard line. Hillis capped the drive with a 1-yard run. He was stopped, spun and scored with second effort. On the previous play, he had a huge collision with linebacker Corey Mays for a 1-yard gain.
Phil Dawson missed a 42-yard field goal just wide left with 14 seconds left in the half. A diving interception by nose tackle Ahtyba Rubin on a ball tipped by linebacker Matt Roth gave the Browns the chance for the late score. A 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on center Alex Mack cost the Browns 15 yards and pushed back Dawson’s attempt.