By Jeff Phelps - Cleveland's Talking HeadsBy Jeff Phelps | 92.3 The Fan

1st Quarter

I said it all week on “Baskin & Phelps” – I think the Brown beat the Bengals this week. The Browns have been playing well enough to be intriguing, but not well enough to win. I think they put it together today.

Nice start by the Browns defense. Force the Bengals to punt. Well done Gents. So glad Joe Haden is back.

Weeden’s first pass of the game goes to his Oklahoma State Cowboy buddy Josh Cooper. He was open, he made a nice catch. If this keeps up everyone will be screaming in unison, “WHY WAS THIS GUY ON THE PRACTICE SQUAD FOR THE FIRST FIVE GAMES!!!”

So just when things are moving along nicely, Weeden has a pass knocked into the air at the line, and intercepted. His 10th interception, most in the NFL. It’s been the most disturbing aspect of Weeden’s season. This interception wasn’t typical, but he’s thrown way too many ill-advised balls. Happy 29th birthday Brandon. You’re obviously still a rookie, despite the age.

Secondary looks horrendous on a 55-yard touchdown catch by Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham. Joe Haden’s back, but he was nowhere near this one, at least until Greshman hit the end zone. Not Joe’s play here. Poor coverage has been an alarming part of the season. 7-0 Bengals.

2nd Quarter

MONTARIO HARDESTY GETS A CARRY! MONTARIO HARDESTY GETS A CARRY! So what if he didn’t do anything with it. ice to know he still has a pulse. At least, we think he does. I’m assuming, anyway.

Owen Marecic drops a pass coming out of the backfield. Next play, Josh Cooper makes a dandy catch and turns it up field. You know, if this keeps up…..

It’s the other Josh! Gordon from Weeden, 71 yards for a touchdown. Three TDs for Gordon in the last two games. Can all the Heckert bashers go ahead and admit, Gordon is showing signs that he may have been worth every bit of a 2013 second round pick? I sure think so. Has big play ability. And Weeden did what he was supposed to do on this one — put some air under the ball, and let your guy go and get it. Beautiful by both rookies. 7-7.

So it’s windy at the stadium, and a packet of papers just blew from the Browns sideline, to the Bengals sideline, where Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis picked it up. We can only hope the papers contained the Browns game plan, because Lewis would probably take one look, not believe an NFL coaching staff could come up with something so basic, ignore every bit of it, and concentrate on something else. That’s a joke. I hope.

A.J. Green was amazingly open in the end zone on a 4-yard TD pass from Andy Dalton. When Tom Heckert (or whoever drafts players for the Browns next year) takes a defensive back or two in the top four rounds, remember this day, and you’ll understand why.

This appears to be a very winnable game for the Browns. Bengals aren’t doing anything drastic, but neither are the Browns. They look flat.

Final seconds of the half, Buster Skrine molests A.J. Green, and he makes the catch anyway down to the 16 with :08 left. Somehow, the Bengals appear to not spike the ball in time to try a field goal. CBS replays show there was :01 on the clock when the ball was spiked. Bet the replacement refs wouldn’t have blown that one. 14-7 Bengals at half.

3rd Quarter

Browns start the 2nd half with their 4th straight 3-and-out. Sorry, but it’d not the Bengal defense. They’re not that good. The Browns offense just looks extremely blah, bland, basic, boring — pick your favorite “B” word.

I’ve tried to be very patient in regards to Owen Marecic. He just dropped another pass that should have been caught without too much trouble. The Browns offense is showing some growth (despite their 5th straight 3-and-out). Nothing personal Owen, strictly business — it’s time to find out what Brad Smelley can bring to the offense. It can’t be anything less than what the Browns are getting from Marecic.

The Browns are one more Bengal touchdown away from being done. The offense has shown nothing in this game — other than the one great play to Gordon for a score. No way this offense will be able to play catch up.


Or if Josh Cribs can return a punt for 60 yards. That’s a help! Please, do something with good field position. Weeden has been mediocre today. Same thing with Trent Richardson. Both rookies had great games in the first meeting with Cincinnati. I was expecting good performances today. Still not too late.

Did Weeden play against nothing but 5’6” defensive linemen at Oklahoma State? Another pass batted down. Geez!
Browns get a field goal from Phil Dawson – down 14-10. 41-yarder Dawson hasn’t missed this season. I’ve said it before, and here it comes again — he’s the best kicker in the NFL, and because he plays for the Browns, no one outside the city knows it.

CBS just showed a graphic that when the Browns have started 0-5, they’ve finished with records of 3-11 (in 1975) and 2-14 (in 1999). Sure has me looking forward to the next 10 weeks.

Joe Haden is back baby! An interception, that allows Brandon Weeden, on first down, to have a THIRD pass knocked down by a defensive lineman. After a sack of Weeden thanks to a missed block by Richardson (nice), Dawson hits another field goal. 14-13. Have I mentioned – THIS GAME IS VERY WINNABLE IF THE OFFENSE CAN DO ANYTHING!!! That’s right. I have.

Am I missing something? Did Josh Gordon run off to the bathroom, go out for lunch, suddenly have to leave for a hot date, and not return? Just wondering why we haven’t heard anything from him since his dramatic 71-yard touchdown catch. Coach Shurmur? Any thoughts?

3rd quarter — left. 3rd and 1. Weeden gets the first down on a QB sneak. Didn’t even notice if Trent Richardson was on the field. See what a first down will do?

JOSH GORDON GOT ANOTHER THROW! YIPPEE! He caught it — no surprise.

4th Quarter

Montario Hardesty with a touchdown run. Repeat, MONTARIO HARDESTY with a TOUCHDOWN. Glory be! Browns up 20-14. See… if the Browns offense can do anything, THIS IS A VERY WINNABLE GAME!!! Browns with 13 unanswered points.

Hardesty is in for Richardson — combination side injury and missing a block that led to a sack (at least if you ask me). Montario is running like a guy who’s trying to make something out of a career in a very critical season.

3rd and 1, Weeden completes a 23-yard pass to Jordan Cameron. Ball down to the three. For the record, Trent Richardson was not on the field. Just saying. Amazing how creative play calling can appear when players execute what’s called.

Touchdown Ben Watson, on 1st-and-goal from the three. Great play call. Watson was incredibly open. See, it is a winnable game if the offense can do anything — AND NOW IT IS!!! 27-17 Browns, 8:05 left.

YES!!! Sheldon Browns with an interception and return for a touchdown!!! Defense, especially pass defense, has played a much better half. Bengals with only three points. Whatever Dick Jauron did at halftime to shore up the pass coverage, it worked. Browns 34-17. That is not a typo.

Hold off on the release of the victory balloons. Please ignore previous comment about the shored-up pass defense. Dalton to A.J. Green, who fries Haden for a 57-yard touchdown pass. 34-24 with 5:21 left. Please Mr. Rozelle. The Browns may not be very good, they may not even deserve to win this game. But let them win it anyway. The thought of burying Pat Shurmer on on the radio this week does nothing for me.

OK, this isn’t god. Browns punt, Bengals move, Browns with 12-men on the field, Bengals down close, 2:39 left. This is a game the Browns have to have. More importantly, Pat Shurmur has to have it. Jimmy Haslam get the keys on Tuesday. He’d like to go to Chicago with a smile on his face, not thoughts of a severance package for Shurmur.

Hold the phone! Big play defense!!! Dalton fumbles, Billy Wynn makes like Jerome Bettis and rumbles down the field with the football. Browns up 10 with about 2:30 left. Ladies and Gentlemen, enjoy the first win of the season.

The franchise record tying 11-game losing streak comes to an end. Just saying – I thought all week that the Browns would win this game, and on Friday’s “Baskin & Phelps” I said it would be by double digits. 34-24 Browns win it. Thank you. Thank you very much.

I’ve thought all season that the Browns have been improving. That improvement just hadn’t translated to wins, mainly because the team wasn’t good enough to make it happen. Today, they were good enough. Job well done Gents. Jimmy Haslam will still be smiling when he takes over ownership of the franchise on Tuesday. And Pat Shurmur will still be the head coach. And I’m glad about that. Still early to tell if he’s going to be a top-notch NFL head coach, but I’d like to find out for sure while he’s still employed by the Browns.


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