In an outcome that surprised no one, the Cleveland Browns fell to the far-superior Philadelphia Eagles, 30-10, on Monday Night Football. The Eagles outclassed the Browns from the opening drive and only their futility in the red zone and propensity for turnovers kept the score closer than it should have been.
The Eagles drove effortlessly down the field on their opening possession for a touchdown as Donovan McNabb converted two third downs on the drive. The first to Jason Avant for 21 yards and the second when he hit Kevin Curtis for the touchdown on a fade route in the right corner of the endzone and a 7-0 advantage.
The Browns came into the game without scoring a touchdown on their opening drive for 20 consecutive games. They made it 21 in a row, but were able to put a Phil Dawson field goal on the board, a single season Browns record 30th, for a 7-3 ballgame. It should have been 7-7, but Darnell Dinkins dropped a sure touchdown on 3rd-and-goal on a perfectly timed crossing pattern.
The Eagles then took control from that point forward and were only held back by turnovers and inefficiency in the red zone. McNabb converted two more third downs on the Eagles’ second drive, but failed to convert a third inside the Browns 10 and Philadelphia had to settle for a David Akers field goal and 10-3 lead.
The Browns were unable to answer and Philadelphia took over and drove down the field. On 3rd-and-goal from the Browns’ 8, receiver DeSean Jackson line-up in the shotgun formation, bluffed a drawn and under threw a pass that would have been a sure touchdown. Browns safety Sean Jones made an amazing, diving interception and prevent the Eagles from opening up a bigger lead.
But not to worry for the Eagles, as Ken Dorsey paid them back and then some as he threw an interception right into the arms of Asante Samuel. Samuel then dashed down the sideline for a touchdown that put the Eagles up 17-3.
After another Browns punt, Philadelphia once again marched into Cleveland territory and beyond. McNabb just picked apart the Browns defense with no threat of a pass rush to worry about. The Eagles faced a 2nd-and-goal at the Browns’ 1-yard line after Brian Westbrook was stopped short of the goal line.
With 9 seconds left in the half and no timeouts remaining, McNabb threw a quick pass to the left that Browns’ corner Brandon McDonald leaped up and snared one-handed, and raced down the sideline. Westbrook however hustled and caught him inside the 5-yard line to prevent the score. In the end, it was the longest interception return not for a touchdown, 98 yards, in NFL history.
The score may have only been 17-3 but the first half stats showed how lopsided the game really was. The Eagles ran 39 plays to the Browns’ 22. Twenty-three of Philadelphia’s plays were in Browns’ territory compared to only five for Cleveland. The Eagles possessed the ball for just under 20 minutes compared to 10 for the Browns.
The second half was no different that the first as the Browns were unable to generate anything on offense while the Eagles continued to drive without resistance but stall inside the 20. They put up two Akers field goals on their first two drives and added a touchdown when McNabb found Greg Lewis after another Dorsey interception.
The Browns added a gift touchdown late when Eagles’ back-up QB Kevin Kolb’s pass found McDonald and he wiggled his way 24 yards for a touchdown. Down 30-3 at that point McDonald took the classy rout into the endzone by doing a somersault into the endzone to cap the scoring for the night. It was the Browns first touchdown in a month.
Other than the interception, there were not a lot of positives for the Browns other than Dawson’s field goal record. Braylon Edwards has his third good game of the season, all on Monday night, posting a five catch night for 102 yards, and no drops. Shaun Rogers was a beast once again, despite leaving briefly after reaggravating a shoulder injury that has plagued him all season.
Romeo Crennel led Browns to their third 10-loss season in four years, and now must face the 2-11-1 Bengals who knocked off the Washington Redskins Sunday. This was supposed to be an easy win, even for the Browns, but now it looks like the Browns will have their work cut out for them this coming Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium.