Anytime the Browns win, whether the game counts or not, the city of Cleveland erupts. However, Friday’s 19-17 win over the Detroit Lions was bittersweet. A team that was already hampered by injuries saw four more players go down. As for the game itself, the quarterback controversy may continue. Rookie Brandon Weeden was named the starter, with Colt McCoy as the backup. Judging by their performances on Friday, it’s difficult to tell if things should stay this way. However, it’s still early, and as all of us Cleveland fans know, things here can change quickly.
Weeden started off strong, completing his first two passes of the game. He opened the game with a 12-yard pass to Mohammed Massaquoi, who left the game after suffering a concussion on the play. Weeden’s following pass, a 34-yard completion to rookie Travis Benjamin, showed Weeden’s arm strength and Benjamin’s incredible speed. However, those were the only highlights for Weeden. Weeden fumbled, threw an interception, and completed just three of his nine passes. He finished with a dismal quarterback rating of 19. While he had some bright spots, it was clear that he’s not quite ready for the NFL.
Enter McCoy. With the Browns trailing 7-3 heading into the second quarter, McCoy marched the Browns down the field. While McCoy was going against the Lions’ second string defense, McCoy showed us things we hadn’t witnessed from him before. Rather than settling for short passes, he looked up the field, completing longer passes. At one point, he completed a 42-yard pass to tight end Jordan Cameron, who left the game after the play with a back injury. Rather than sitting back in the pocket with pressure coming, McCoy scrambled for a total of 20 yards. He completed six of his eight passes for 88 yards.
Seneca Wallace entered the game in the third quarter, with the Browns trailing 14-3. The Browns recorded their first touchdown of the game in the third quarter when Wallace completed a 12-yard pass to rookie Brad Smelley. The touchdown was due in large part to the Browns having good field position. Jordan Norwood returned a punt for 45-yards, setting the Browns up perfectly. Wallace finished the game with 86 yards passing, going 7-for-13.
In the fourth quarter, both teams emptied their benches completely. However, Thaddeus Lewis was impressive for the Browns. With the Browns trailing 17-10, led the Browns on a 75-yard scoring drive. The drive was capped off with a three-yard touchdown run by Adonis Thomas. Head coach Pat Shurmur had the team go for two points, not wanting a preseason game to finish in a tie. However, the two-point conversion failed, and it looked as though the Browns would finish with a 17-16 loss. The fourth string defense held the Lions, and the Browns got the ball back with 2:18 remaining. Lewis completed three passes, setting up the 45-yard winning field goal, kicked by Jeff Wolfert. The Lions got the ball back with 28 seconds remaining, but David Sims picked off the Lions, sealing the win for the Browns.
While there was a lot of positives and negatives, the negatives far outweighed the win. Four players suffered injuries in the first half of the game. Massaquoi (concussion), Dimitri Patterson (right ankle), Cameron (back), and Scott Paxson (right knee), all left the game with injuries. For a team dealing with numerous injuries already, it’s a scary thought to think that four more players are now on the sideline. A total of 15 players didn’t practice on Sunday, the majority of them being starters and second team players.