Posted by Josh Katzowitz
Here are the reasons why Cleveland beat the New Orleans 30-17 win today.
1) Browns special teams tricks: Cleveland was aggressive with its special teams calls, and today at least, it worked. Early in the first quarter, when receiving a punt from New Orleans, Joshua Cribbs caught the kick, ran seven yards straight ahead and then lateraled it across the field to Eric Wright, who dashed down the left sideline to the Saints 19. The Browns had to settle for a field goal, but that play set a tone.
In the second quarter, with Cleveland facing a fourth-and-eight, the Browns coaching staff went for more trickery. Punter Reggie Hodges took the snap and ran straight up the middle of the field. There was nobody near him until the Saints brought him down at the 9-yard line. It was stunning – because it was such a brazen play call and because of its effectiveness.
"When you're looking to win, you've got to be aggressive,” Saints coach Sean Payton said, as transcribed by Rapid Reporter Larry Holder. “We failed to recognize and handle that. Those are gutsy calls."
2) Cleveland’s pass defense stymies Drew Brees: The Saints QB had a tough time getting into a rhythm. He finished 37 of 56 for 356 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. Yes, four interceptions, and the Browns probably should have had more. At times, Brees was incredibly inaccurate with his throws.
Brees was really hurt by Browns LB David Bowens, who returned two interceptions for touchdowns. The first one he caught off a deflection from New Orleans G Jahri Evans, and he ran 30 yards for the touchdown. The second one, he plucked the ball out of the air, and he plodded untouched for the 64-yard score. He stopped just before the goal line and then somersaulted into the end zone to celebrate.
3) Maybe the Saints just aren’t very good: The Saints squeaked by the 49ers and the Panthers (two of the worst teams in the NFL) by a combined five points. They lost to the Cardinals who were starting an undrafted free agent rookie for the first time. They made good progress last week in an easy victory against a decent Buccaneers squad, but then were terrible today.
So, what’s the deal, Sean Payton?
"We did all the things you can't do (and still) win a game. If we continue to do that, we'll muddle around, win some, lose some. That's something that will get you beat in this game."
Just like it did today.
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