It's Wednesday, and my voice is finally getting back to about normal after all the screaming I was doing on Sunday.
It was the Salvador Dali Bowl on the shores of Lake Erie...because that was about as surreal of a game as I have seen in a long, long, time. OK...the Pittspuke game was surreal too, but that was in a "I'm naked in front of a bunch of people and a dead fish is talking to me" sicko dream surreal. This week's surrealism was much better.
It didn't start out that way. To begin with, like so many of you that only watch the game via DirecTV's Sunday Ticket...the damn game wasn't on at kickoff! To add insult to insult (and hadn't we had enough of those all week), DirecTV decided to show the Squealers-Bills game on TWO different channels! So we start right off with me swearing at the TV like a sailor on a bender, calling DirecTV, hoping that I wouldn't get arrested for conveying threats, given how pissed off I was. I got through about six of their stupid automated questions (Does your home have electricity? Press 1. Are you living in your parents basement? Press "Loser"), when the game finally comes on.
And I'm almost immediately wishing it hadn't. The Bungles are already in Browns' territory, and three or four plays later, they're up 7 - 0, and I'm wondering if DirecTV did me any favors.
But things had to get better when the Browns had the ball, didn't they?
2 yard run. And then Anderson throws four feet behind Braylon. Convinced he can do better, he proceeds to throw five feet behind Braylon. At least Zastudil didn't fumble the snap.
Next series, Anderson scrambles to his right, sees Joe Jurevicius behind the defense with no one within 20 yards of him...which is about how far Anderson overthrew him. 0 for 5 start for Anderson, and I'm screaming my head off for Quinn to start, and Anderson to be traded to the Barcelona Dragons during halftime.
And then sometime during the next time out, the secret trap door opens underneath Anderson, and in his place steps the robot Randy Lerner had developed while he was over in England (you're not buying all that "I love soccer" crap from him, are you?).
I truly don't have any better explanation regarding what happened. OK...yes, I do. Anderson just started sucking a little less, and he was bailed out countless times by Braylon Edwards having his greatest game ever, and coming up with catches that probably less than 10% of the receivers in the NFL could pull down. You think Kevin Johnson or Quincy Morgan would have been able to accelerate, stretch out, and pull in that one TD pass? And it wasn't just Braylon. Winslow had some incredible catches as well, as did Jurevicius...and even Heiden made a great grab on his first (and only) reception of the season.
~~~~ What else helped? The best offensive line play that Browns V2.0 has ever seen. Yeah...maybe it was just that it was against the Bengals...but here is a fact: Since Charlie Frye was pulled, the Browns have allowed exactly ONE sack...and that one didn't come during Sunday's game. Plus, they opened holes large enough to have their first 200 yard rusher since...I don't know...but I'm sure Mastodons were walking by the stadium when it happened. Thomas and Steinbach were as good as advertised, and can only give one an extreme sense of optimism for what the future holds with these two holding down the left side of the line for years to come (Mitch knocks on wood, spits and turns around three times, and sacrifices a live bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken to appease Jobu).
~~~~ Jamal Lewis running through gaping holes for long touchdowns in Cleveland Browns Stadium. As much fun as it was watching it on Sunday, didn't it still give you a slight shiver making you think back to how many time he did it TO us as a member of the Ratbirds? In any case, it was great that Jamal got to serve a hot, steaming glass of STFU juice to all those "experts" saying that he was finished. And for the record, a certain "expert" here at TCF said last week to lighten up, things would get better for Jamal. I wonder who that genius was?
~~~~ One part of the offensive game plan that didn't work? That brilliant decision to go for it on 4th and ½ yard. Do they give it to the big, fast, stud back who had already racked up 139 yards by that point, and have him follow the fullback over Thomas and Steinbach? No...they give it to the fullback, and have him try to go over Mt. McKinney. Somewhere, Maurice Carthon was beaming with pride.
~~~~ Note to Lawrence Vickers...does the name "Dennis Northdrop" mean anything to you? Vickers drop of a pass that might have ended up sealing the game, with the results being that it could have cost them the game had not Braylon bailed Vickers out on the next play by fighting through three defenders for the first down on 3rd and 8. After watching Terrelle Smith blast holes for Edgerin James the last two weeks...I'm wondering if we kept the right FB.
~~~~ Speaking of the aforementioned Dennis...do you realize that he's the leading receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars? Can you spell "desperate"? It's like reading that Daniel Snyder is the leading scorer for the New Jersey Home for the Short's basketball team.
~~~~ At this point in the season, Derek Anderson has two more TD passes in 6 ½ quarters than Peyton Manning has in two full games? I'm going to church a little more often this week, because I was thinking I read somewhere that this is one of the Signs of the Apocalypse.
~~~~ When you stink as bad as the Browns did the first week, you get certain punishments. To start out with, you don't get to see the game on HDTV, because CBS is so damn cheap that they'll only telecast half of their games that way. Glad to see I spent that $99 wisely on getting that Sunday Ticket SuperFan from DirecTV. My wallet is just about ready for its bikini wax.
You also get lower level refs. The kind that can watch Chad Johnson almost rip Leigh Bodden's head off by grabbing and twisting his face mask, drop a flag at that point, and then pick it up and say "no penalty".
This "no HDTV - no competent officiating" combo worked really well in keeping Romeo's record on challenges a perfect 100% (failures). Was that not the most obvious call in the world that TJ WhosUrMomma did not have both feet in bounds on that TD catch? Not to this idiotic crew, who ruled it "inconclusive". So now we know what happened to members of OJ's criminal jury when they were finished.
The last part of this triumvirate of suckitude was the announcing duo of Bill Macatee and Steve Buerlein. When you are so bad that you're making me wish for Ian Eagle and Solomon Wilcots...you need to look into another line of work.
~~~~ Speaking of obnoxious TV talking heads...and to go with another damn Harry Potter reference...doesn't ESPN's "Senior Analyst" (and Senor Asshat) John Clayton remind you of Dobbie, the psycho house elf from the movies? In any case, watching those smug jerks on the sports shows doing all kinds of spin control after spending the week prior to the game insulting the Browns was enjoyable.
~~~~ Todd Grantham rates as the luckiest man in Cleveland this week, because had it not been for the fact that we are so damn giddy about the win and racking up 51 points, we seem to be overlooking the fact that Carson Palmer dissected the Browns secondary like a high school biology class frog.
I'm not sure what was worse for plugging up the middle; the defensive line, the inside linebackers, or a piece of used bubblegum patching up a leaky dam. As I mentioned in earlier articles, the defensive line may be ineffectual, but at least they are really old.
How many times did I see a linebacker (or sometimes as defensive lineman) free to make a tackle in the backfield, only to have the RB, QB, WR, TE, Old man on a rascal, make a juke move and blow right past the arm tackle?
Props to two defensive players, though. Eric Wright was burned early and often. But he turned it around the second half and was in T.J.'s head by the end, forcing some dropped passes.
But all that meant was that Palmer threw even more to Chad Johnson. Bodden's buddy scorched him for over 200 yards in receptions and two TDs, but at least Leigh got the last laugh by making that fantastic catch for the interception to seal the game...just when every single one of us Browns fans across the globe were reaching for whatever beverage/drug/brick-to-the-head we take to handle "here we go again" gut wrenching losses.
~~~~ How did that beer shower work out for you, Chad? After first looking stupid on catching a TD pass in the OTHER end, and not quite sure if the cameras would stay on him long enough for him to run to the Dawg Pound, he made his later jump...into Big Dawg's spot...where just before the game he was seen talking to them and sucking up enough to where he wouldn't be killed. Well, maybe Big Dawg didn't mind being a traitor and patting him on the back, but that didn't stop the often replayed beer toss coming from someone else. For some reason, they stop that replay right before the best part...someone flipping Chad off right in front of the cameras.
I was right there at home flipping him off as well. But no beer throwing for me...only into the back of my throat, celebrating the most enjoyable win I've seen in a few years.
On to the House of Filthy Scum east of San Francisco. Hell, even Charlie Frye and Luke McCown were able to win there.