At least Cleveland was able to salvage a little civic pride Sunday. Just the thought of losing to another Miami team after You-Know-Who crushed the Cavs Thursday night would have sent the entire Cleveland sports world into a collective seizure.
Thankfully the other Cleveland team—the Browns—took care of business and not only won a 13-10 defensive slog, but also matched its win total from last year.
This game was not a beauty pageant by any means, as both teams looked and played inept, as evidence by punting a combined 16 times and amassing only six first downs between them both.
This game was all about the Browns defense that picked off Dolphins QB Chad Henne three times. Cleveland's emerging ball-hawking secondary was highlighted by the play of cornerback and Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate Joe Haden, along with Mike Adams and Abram Elam's resurgent play at safety.
One would also be remiss in mentioning Browns defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, who had a tackle for loss, one sack and a blocked field goal attempt. Rogers is beginning to re-emerge as a major disruptor for opposing offensive lines.
It is a really bad game for your offense when the lone highlight is your kicker hitting a 60-yard field goal, as was the case for the Dolphins. Don Carpenter's kick was the eighth FG of at least 60 yards in NFL history.
Delhomme started off the game slowly, much like Henne but without the interceptions, but connected downfield with wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and tight end Benjamin Watson for some big plays.
While this is no endorsement of Delhomme, even the most diehard Browns fan can't ignore the fact that he is 2-0 since coming back from a high ankle sprain. While he is not flashy, is slow and occasionally interception-prone, Delhomme does win games.
It was satisfying to have Cleveland improve to 5-7 and matching its entire win total from last year, but it was even more after knocking the Dolphins out of the AFC playoffs on their field. It was more than enough to even the score for Cleveland fans everywhere.
Cleveland and its defense brought its talents to South Beach and gained a considerable measure of payback.