It all adds up
Steve King, Staff Writer
There were a lot of big numbers put up by the Browns in their 51-45 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
*51 points, tied for the fourth-most in Browns history.
*554 yards of total offense, the third-most in club annals.
*226 rushing yards, the highest total by the team since 2003.
*27 points, the most scored by the Browns in the first half of a game since 2003.
*216 rushing yards by Jamal Lewis, the second-highest total of his career and the sixth-best in Browns history.
*Five touchdown passes by quarterback Derek Anderson, tying a Browns record.
*Eight receptions for 146 yards by wide receiver Braylon Edwards, both career highs.
*100 yards receiving by tight end Kellen Winslow, a career best.
*Two touchdown catches by Browns wide receiver Joe Jurevicius, tying a career high.
*183 kickoff return yards by Joshua Cribbs, a career high and the third-most in Browns history.
*Fifteen points scored by kicker Phil Dawson on three field goals and a career high-tying six extra points, moving him past Matt Bahr and into fourth place on the Browns' all-time scoring list with 685 points.
The list goes on and on.
But through it all, maybe the most important number was zero, as in no sacks given up by the Browns offensive line. For that allowed the offense to happen.
The Browns were able to pass the ball so well because the Cincinnati defense was kept honest by the success the hosts were having with the ground game. Again, that's the offensive line.
"The key to that game was the offensive line," Browns Pro Football Hall of Fame running back, and now executive advisor to the team, Jim Brown, said flatly. "The pass blocking, the run blocking -- those guys had the whole package going.
"Nobody was getting close to the quarterback, and the holes they were opening up in the running game were huge. When you can run the ball like that and your quarterback has time to throw, look what it can do for your offense."
An offense -- and a line -- that did nothing in a season-opening 34-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers the week before.
Browns general manager Phil Savage has maintained all along that this line -- rookie left tackle Joe Thomas, the third overall pick in the NFL Draft; free-agent pickups Eric Steinbach and Seth McKinney at left and right guard, respectively; right tackle Kevin Shaffer; and center Hank Fraley, the only player starting at the same position at which he started for the team last year -- would be better.
It was easy to believe in training camp, when the line grew daily.
But it was hard to believe after the game against Pittsburgh.
Now it's easy to believe again.
And maybe, according to Browns head coach Romeo Crennel, things can improve even more with the line, possibly even as soon as Sunday when the club takes to the road for the first time in the regular season by meeting the Oakland Raiders at McAfee Coliseum.
"I think those guys can play better than they did because there are always mistakes that are made in the course of the game," he said Monday.
Then he quickly added, "But they played pretty well yesterday."
Yes they did. And the numbers -- the big ones and the little ones -- prove it.
MORE NUMBERS: The Browns are sixth in the 32-team NFL in points scored with 58, while the Raiders are tied for 12th with 41. ... The Browns are seventh in total offense, averaging 387.5 yards per game. They are ninth in rushing (136.0) and eighth in passing (251.5). The Raiders are 19th overall on offense (314.0), seventh in rushing (146.0) and 26th in passing (168.0). ... The Browns are 31st in points allowed with 79. The Raiders are 28th (59). ... The Browns are last in total defense (448.0), 29th against the run (171.5) and 30th against the pass (276.5). The Raiders are 28th overall on defense (416.5), 26th against the run (144.5) and 29th against the pass (272.0). ... The Browns are tied with the Raiders for 23rd in turnover ratio at minus-2. Based on all that, the scoreboard operator will be busy on Sunday.
ANNOUNCING THE ANNOUNCERS: Bill Macatee (play-by-play) and former NFL -- and Raiders (1988-90) -- quarterback Steve Beuerlein (color analyst) will call CBS' telecast of the game. It will be the second straight week for that duo to handle a Browns contest. The telecast will be shown in the Cleveland area on Channel 19 (WOIO). The game will also be broadcast on the Browns Radio Network by Jim Donovan (play-by-play), Doug Dieken (color analyst) and Andre Knott (sideline reporter).
WEATHER UPDATE: The long-range forecast for Sunday in Oakland calls for sunny skies -- there's only a 10-percent chance of rain -- and a high of 69 degrees.
FASHION SENSE: To the delight of all traditionalists, the Browns will wear their white striped socks with their all-white uniforms on Sunday. The look, which was a mainstay back in the day, hasn't been worn this year since the opening preseason win over the Kansas City Chiefs. The players aren't crazy about the socks -- they favor the solid brown ones and think the striped ones are old-fashioned -- but some of the team's top brass like them.
FOR TRIVIA BUFFS ONLY: Maybe the Browns can slip some orange into the Raiders' silver-and-black color scheme. At least Jamal Lewis would like that. Following his big performance against the Bengals, nine of his top 10 rushing efforts have now been against teams with orange in their color scheme (four against both the Browns and Cincinnati and one against the Miami). The only team on that list without orange somewhere in their color scheme is the Dallas Cowboys.
THROWBACK: Scott Player, the veteran punter the Browns signed Tuesday, is one of the few players left in the NFL who still wear the single-bar facemask -- or at least he did when he played for his former team, the Arizona Cardinals. Per a rule made by the league several years ago, all single-bar facemasks have been outlawed. The only players who can still wear them are those who are "grandfathered" in -- that is, were in the league and wearing them before the rule was changed. Player is a 10th-year pro whose first season was 1998.