The Browns badly needed to show some signs of life offensively last night. For the most part they did. Despite four turnovers, the team moved the ball pretty well, and hung on for a 20-16 win over the Detroit Lions in the Great Lakes Classic.
Rookie running back Jerome Harrison, a fifth round pick out of Washington State, was the star on this night for the Browns ... and likely locked down the spot as the teams third down back in the process. Harrison ran 9 times for 53 yards, and also caught 6 passes for 54 yards, including a 31 yard TD pass from Derek Anderson in the fourth quarter that gave the team the lead for good at 17-16.
The first team offense moved the ball much better than last week, but was plagued by two Charlie Frye turnovers. Frye threw a wobbly INT on the teams opening drive after evading a rush and attempting to hit Dennis Northcutt deep. Frye also fumbled on a blind side sack by the Lions James Hall on the teams third drive.
However, leaving those two plays aside, Frye looked pretty good and led the team on a 10 play, 67 yard TD drive on the Browns second possession. He was 8-11 for 41 yards, and rifled a TD pass to Dennis Northcutt in the red zone. Frye spun out of a quickly approaching Lions pass rush, re-established himself, then fired a strike over the middle, threading the needle for the TD score.
Reuben Droughns looked good once again for the Browns as well. Showing the great vision and power that enabled him to rush for over 1,200 yards the last two years, Droughns ran for 44 yards on 7 carries, including a 27 yard scamper on the aformentioned touchdown drive. The first team offensive line played very well in the run game, but struggled to protect the Browns quarterbacks when they went back to pass. Center Ross Tucker played pretty well, but got whistled for a phantom chop block call that negated what would have been yet another nice pass reception for Jerome Harrison.
Ken Dorsey took over for Frye with about eight minutes left in the second quarter, and led the team to a late second quarter field goal, and pretty effectively managing the hurry up offense in the process. Dorsey hit former teammate Kellen Winslow Jr twice on that drive. On the game, Winslow caught 3 passes for 37 yards, and also was pretty effective as a blocker. On the teams first possession of the second half, Dorsey threw an ugly interception that was well behind rookie fullback Lawrence Vickers. Dorsey ended 11-16, with 75 yards passing and an INT.
Derek Anderson took over for Dorsey late in the third quarter, and was 7-9 for 83 yards and a touchdown, hitting Jerome Harrison for a 31 yard score with 13 minutes left that put the Browns ahead 17-16. The Browns managed one more field goal with seven minutes left, then held on as time ran out on the Lions, who were at the Browns five yard line when time expired.
Lee Suggs ran 8 times for 26 yards, but had a fumble on a muffed handoff, and was also seen icing his knee on the sidelines late in the game. Also worth noting is the gorgeous 75 yard punt return touchdown by Josh Cribbs that was negated by multiple penalties by Justin Hamilton and Brodney Pool.
Defensively, the Browns first team defense once again played pretty well, completely shutting down the Lions running game in the first half. Leigh Bodden had a fantastic game, and was all over the field. Bodden appears poised to have another big season for the Browns. Orepheus Roye also played very well, and seemed to be in the mix on almost every play.
Rookie Kamerion Wimbley started, and had a beautiful second quarter sack. Using textbook technique, Wimbley badly beat Lions tackle Jeff Backus around the end, and destroyed Lions quarterback John Kitna. Wimbley has looked incredible so far, and appears poised to be starting, and making an impact from day one for a team that desperately needs some pass rush help. Fellow rookie linebacker D'Qwell Jackson had an up and down game, getting beaten for an early second quarter 4 yard TD on a swing pass to Kevin Jones, but rebounding to make a nice third quarter INT of Lions backup QB Dan Orlovsky.
All in all, it was a much more encouraging performance for the Browns, who made solid strides from last weeks game. The Browns are at Buffalo next Saturday for their third preseason tilt, then host the Bears in the preseason finale.