Panthers vs. Browns: Cleveland Has Much To Be Thankful For After 24-23 Win
Forgive me for sounding like a nervous Nancy, but after watching the Cleveland Browns narrowly escape the lowly 1-9 Carolina Panthers with a 24-23 win, Browns fans everywhere may have collectively suffered a major anxiety attack.
While I'm very happy that the Browns improved to 4-7, this feels more like a loss than Cleveland's fourth win of the season, this is more like a shallow and hollow victory that was a case of luck rather than earned on the field.
There is simply no excuse for the Browns to have even been in this late-second John Kasay missed field goal cardiac-inducing situation in the first place when they had the superior team on the field today.
There is no excuse for allowing a rookie quarterback like Jimmy Clausen to nearly perform a John Elway-like comeback on the road.
And there is no excuse for not pounding the ball on the ground with Peyton Hillis against the 24th-ranked run defense in the league.
Cleveland has a lot to be thankful for, considering that they have made a habit of blowing fourth-quarter leads, but for once they came out on the winning end as they improved to 2-5 in games decided by seven points or less.
And while it has taken Brian Daboll 11 games into the season to actually get the ball down field to the wide receivers not named Joshua Cribbs, it was really good to see Brian Robiskie and Carlton Mitchell finally involved.
Cleveland should be thankful that without Peyton Hillis and his Herculean three-touchdown effort today that they would have indeed lost.
Hillis WAS the Browns entire offense in the first half, why they went away from him in the second half is a Richard Castle-like mystery to Browns fans everywhere.
Cleveland should be thankful that they finally got their first glimpse of sixth-round pick Carlton Mitchell, as he had one rush for nine yards on a end-around play, but to see his ability to read blocks and speed on the edge finally gave Cleveland a taste of what he can do in the Cleveland offense.
Cleveland should be thankful that their soft and fundamentally poor tackling did not help them lose a game, at least not THIS time, as with the New York and Jacksonville games, the Browns once again has a opposing QB or RB stopped only to let them slip away for a big play, such as Carolina running back Mike Goodson's 32-yard run on a Clausen third-and-10 pass.
How is is that Browns defensive coordinator Rex Ryan is EVEN mentioned for a possible head coaching job in the NFL is beyond me, when his fellow players cannot even properly tackle, let alone wrap up?
Cleveland should be especially thankful that after becoming the second team in NFL history to lose when getting six turnovers in a game that they were able to win when Brown's quarterback, Jake Delhomme throws two interceptions, including a nicely gift-wrapped pass that was almost telegraphed right to Carolina defensive back Captain Munnerlyn, who would return it 37 yards for a touchdown.
Eric Mangini and Brian Daboll should be thankful for still having their jobs after Cleveland's atrocious second-half meltdowns in the last two games and almost LOSING to a 1-9 team AT home is simply not acceptable.
Especially when that team has a rookie QB that has completed roughly 53 percent of his passes; where was the Browns blitz and pressure all day?
With the exception of the three sacks that Cleveland got, Clausen was actually allowed to make some decent throws all game and that cannot continue to happen.
Daboll really needs to be more creative again and learn to use all of his personnel more, including wide receiver, Carlton Mitchell more in the offense.
While it was nice to finally see Brian Robiskie and Chansi Stuckey get involved, a Mitchell-Massaquoi-Moore tandem could be deadly for opposing defenses.
Mangini needs to man up and either sit Jake Delhomme for the rest of the season or cut him, whichever comes first because all Browns fans can attest to the fact that watching him under center is a nerve-racking experience to say the least.
While he did distribute the ball well today by going 24-of-35 for 245 yards, his herky-jerky sidearm throws are very risky and often inaccurate, he has no mobility to speak off and his knack for making a bone-headed play is simply Derek Anderson-like at times.
Delhomme almost cost the Browns this game, and while we should all be thankful for the win, let's be hopeful that the football gods bless either Seneca Wallace or Colt McCoy with a speedy recovery.
Browns fans everywhere are just thankful for the win.
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