Sorry about the tardiness of the post. Believe me, I'm just as excited with yesterday's game as you are. I just now had the time to put my thoughts down.
The best word I can come up with for yesterday's 4th quarter heroics is guts . We played gutsy, determined, and inspiring football during our comeback.
The first half could not have gone any worse. Big Ben threw three first half INTs (two were not really his fault), the running game was sluggish, and we were allowing Charlie Frye to methodically move the football down the field. We were fortunate to be down only 10 at the break after the three turnovers. A Phil Dawson FG that clanked off the crossbar certainly helped our cause. Regardless, at the intermission, it sure appeared we were going to fall to 3-7, effectively ending our season.
Some thoughts from the comeback:
*Santonio Holmes had the kind of day we were all hoping for when we selected him in the 1st round to replace Antwaan Randle-El. 5 catches for 75 yards and a TD. The bulk of Holmes' catches came in the 4th quarter when we needed him most. Big Ben and Santonio are still feeling each other out (see interception in 1st half on pass that was overthrown to him in the flat), but yesterday was a huge step in the right direction.
*Did anybody else get the feeling that the refs had money on Cleveland? And the announcers too? My lord, I'm not one to frequently complain about officiating, but there were some calls, and no-calls that I felt gave the Browns an edge throughout this game. And for the announcers? I can understand when the CBS crew clearly cheers for the underdog during the NCAA Men's basketball tournament--upsets are a big reason why America tunes in to watch the games---but not during an NFL game. Gus Johnson and his partner were SOOO excited every time Charlie Frye and the Browns made a play. They so desperately wanted the Browns to win so that all their drooling and praise for Romeo Crennel and Frye carried more validity. Ok, enough random bitching.
*Big Ben. Wow! What a warrior. Despite struggling early, he didn't hang his head and give up. He was battered and bruised throughout the 4th quarter, as the Browns came after him knowing we were going to pass the ball. On the game-winning drive, Roethlisberger got slammed to the ground and got up holding his throwing shoulder. No way he was coming out of the game though. He hung in there, moved around the pocket, improvised, and ultimately won the game for us with his decision making, throws, and guts. I'm awfully proud of his effort yesterday in the face of extreme adversity. Who knows what people would have said about him had he not responded the way he did in the 2nd half.
*Before Josh Cribbs of Cleveland returned a kickoff 92 yards for a TD in the 4th quarter, I actually thought we were going to win the special teams battle in a game this year. Now I know why we keep Sean Morey on the roster. He made both offensive and defensive plays on special teams yesterday. Much of the blame on that kickoff return by the way falls on K Josh Reed. He took an AWFUL angle on Cribbs.
*I love Casey Hampton. His forced fumble was a huge play in yesterday's game. You've got to tip your cap to a man who anchors our run defense at 320 pounds, but still hustles out to the perimeter to chase down opposing players 5-10 yards down the field.
*Did anybody else almost soil themselves on the Hail Mary attempts before halftime and at the end of the game? Credit Polamalu for his heads-up play before halftime to knock the ball free of Braylon Edwards at the last second. I'm not sure what happened on the final play of the game, but I do know that it appeared as if Edwards was going to come down with the ball after tipping it to himself. Nerve wracking stuff. I love it!
*We're still alive folks! Had we lost, I'd still be excited to play the Ravens this weekend--I hate Baltimore--but it's nice that we are still playing for more than pride after our 2-6 start. Don't forget to tune into MNF tonight and cheer for the NY Giants. The Chiefs play Denver this Thursday, so if we take care of business next week, we could find ourselves just 1 game back of KC with 5 to go. Jacksonville and KC still have to play each other, and the Jaguars also have contests with the Patriots and Colts. For some reason, I'm just not worried about the Jets, despite their soft schedule. We're still alive and kicking, and a loss tonight by the Jags would certainly help our cause.