Yes, Derek Anderson’s two interceptions in the final two minutes of the first half were equally hideous and damaging. Remember, however, what started Sunday’s avalanche of ugliness.
Yes, Derek Anderson’s two interceptions in the final two minutes of the first half were equally hideous and damaging.
Remember, however, what started Sunday’s avalanche of ugliness.
The Browns blew a great chance to send the Bengals reeling early. On the opening kickoff, coverage man Daven Holly blindsided Glenn Holt to cause a fumble. But, when they cleaned up the pile, the Bengals had the ball.
On the first punt, Joshua Cribbs played too deep and had to let the ball go. What should have been a 25-yarder into a stiff wind instead turned into a 52-yard kick-and-roll.
A Browns drive stalled when Anderson stumbled and passed high over a slightly open Braylon Edwards while not seeing a wide-open Kellen Winslow Jr. The subsequent field goal try was botched by a bad snap.
“Pregame, winds were gusting up to almost 40 mph,” holder Dave Zastudil said. “The winds were gusting as we lined up. Phil (Dawson) said to wait, but the play clock was running down. We couldn’t wait that long. We had to snap the ball while the gust was going. The gust really had an effect on (Ryan Pontbriand’s snap).”
Leigh Bodden’s one-handed interception instantly got the Browns back in field goal range, but the first quarter stayed scoreless when a fourth-and-1 run by Jamal Lewis got slammed while Hank Fraley was caught holding.
On the Browns’ first play of the second quarter, Lawrence Vickers dropped a shovel pass. Moments later, Winslow false-started.
“We had our destiny in our hands,” guard Eric Steinbach said. “We didn’t come out with that fire and that emotion.”
Soon after that, Winslow was open deep downfield, but Anderson overthrew slightly, and Winslow couldn’t quite finish a spectacular catch. On the next play, right tackle Kevin Shaffer was holding while Anderson was sacked.
Now it was the Browns’ turn to punt into the wind. Zastudil got off a 26-yarder.
Trailing 6-0, the Browns stalled at midfield. A would-be handoff turned into an Anderson collision with Jamal Lewis.
“It was a new play we had practiced,” Lewis said. “The timing was off.”
On third-and-long, Anderson threw behind Jurevicius, who failed to make a tough catch.
That put Anderson in press mode. Forcing throws against a rush and a wind, he got picked twice, putting the Browns in a 19-0 halftime hole.
The last piece in a breakout season had instead turned into the season opener against Pittsburgh.
Reach Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or e-mail email@example.com.