Browns beat Saints recap.
I’m still at a loss for words to describe yesterday’s epic win so I’m just going to live blog it from the game film.1 Before I dig in, three notes:
1. The migration to 603brown.com is non-trivial. We had about a 50% hit rate on moving image files from the old site to the new one. So I have to go back and manually check ~200 posts. Or I can start fresh with a ridiculously cool new theme. I’m attempting to go with “B.” Concept is a home page leading to three main landing areas: Posts, Cheddar, and TheAtoZ. But it’ll be a week or two before ready.
2. An enormous eff you to The Winners Circle in Salisbury, MA. I’ve been watching the Browns games there since the (perfect and lovely) Riverside Lounge in Amesbury shut down. Pretty good customer if I do say so. Have to do the ‘what TV are the Browns on’ dance with the bartender every week which I dread but for a bar that has about 40 TVs and whose business is built on the people who come to watch out of town games, you’d think they’d have this drill down and games would be fixed prior to kickoff. Anyway the convo goes like this:
- What TV for Browns/Saints?
- I dunno.
- Welp, I need to find a place to sit.
- Uhhhm… [looks at paper]… it’s not going to be in the main room. Maybe you should get a booth? [Booths offer 9″ CRT TVs in Keno area and are full anyway.]
- [Quizzical look.]
- Ok it’ll be on this one. [Points to TV facing behind you if youre sitting at the bar.
- I don’t know what to tell you.
- You tell me the Browns will be on one of the decent TVs and I tell you I will give you $50.
And so began my day yesterday. Dicks.
3. But closed doors and open windows and and such as and after striking out at several other options I hiked up to Portsmouth and found a Buffalo Wild Wings … AND… THE SEACOAST BROWNS BACKERS CLUB. More on them later except that in a full BWW, the Browns Backers owned the place. At least 30 Ohioans age range from 5 to 70. I can’t imagine a better place to watch yesterday’s transcendent game outside the 216 area code.
Now let’s get to the game.
14:40 — Browns in all-whites on sunny September day. SMART! Seal brown is a heat absorber… let the Saints play in the black jerseys. Kruger disrupts first play; Desmond Bryant almost beats Brees to the fumbled snap on the second play; Sheard makes play in the flat on third play — the d-front playing on another level. When they bring the energy they are definitely a top 5 d-front.
13:00 First play West running behind Greco and Schwartz and pile is pushed four yards. A small play maybe but shows Browns winning LOS against a good run defense. Hoyer’s overthrow of Hawkins on third down not nearly as egregious as my twitter feed led me to believe.
11:00 — Ok I guess it wasn’t a safety but damn. Kruger coming from 9-tech beats two blocks to make the play. This is exactly what Mingo is supposed to do but can’t because he doesn’t have Kruger’s strength. GREAT to see Kruger in the form that won him his contract. Dansby is a punishing tackler like Jackson never was. 3rd/12 four man rush had Brees throwing a duck off his back foot which he’s lucky not to have picked off. Another 3-out. What a start.
9:00 — Sweep left, line seals edge, West turns corner sweet. Next play Hoyer seems to go through progression but I think it was a planned swing pass right executed perfectly. Next is the seeming risky duck that Hoyer throws to Dray under pressure — I actually don’t think that was bad gamble, Dray was open and should be able to out-muscle d-backs if need be. The value throwing jumpballs and letting receivers make plays is shown on the next play where the Browns get a pass interference call on another duck ball. (Manziel sideline shot #1 pre 3rd/12. Dickish, Fox.) Fourth and one conversation all Terrence West. Great cut. Every back from last year would have been cut down for a loss.
Touchdown to Austin, too easy. Nice touch throwing ball into stands.
6:00 — Hah! Brees comes out of huddle, gets under center… WHERE’S KRUGER? Jabaal Sheard is on left end in Kruger’s SAM slot. You’re not going to rattle Brees but it’s a wrinkle. Throwing wrinkles is good. For all we know, Brees checked down to a run play at Sheard because he’s had enough Kruger. (He will learn that Sheard is no bargain.) And Kruger is back on the left side next play. Love that work Coach Pet. Saints convert a 3rd/1 but Dansby fills middle like a boss there and on next play. Second and six, Kruger is back on the right side. The Kruger movement seems to be throwing off Brees as he’s force to burn another timeout for 3rd/6 and then a false start by the tackle assigned to Kruger. Sheard gets in to block the third down attempt. Defense is crushing it.
3:00 — Watch West set up his blocks.
Yeah, ok next play Hoyer’s big feet trip up West. Price you pay for a QB with big hands.2 Nice 3rd/12 conversion to Barnidge. Barnidge was a late release from pass protect and Hoyer knew where to find him when the pressure came. Next is the rolling pocket which I like. Hoyer got some heat and in my opinion Benjamin needs to break his route and help his QB in those cases. 3rd/4 saw the Austin drop (painful), FG miss, lackluster three plays (although Vaccaro makes TD saving tackle on Dray), FG make, 10-0 Browns.
Saints run game getting ramped up. This will present problems for the Browns the rest of the day. I’ll try to identify the culprit(s) on our side. On the first two good runs, it looks like they’re double/triple teaming on Sheard and then running over him. DBryant getting sealed off. Will check back on this later. But note the Evans and Grubbs are a stud (and expensive) guard tandem. Saints _should_ be good run team. Gilbert’s long arms allow him to breakup a good pass on the edge; secondary give zero YAC on a third down attempt, punt Saints.
Run, run, Hawk; first down; move to hurry up, audible. This is like a real offense. Hoyer tries to get to Benjamin, under thrown. Hoyer will learn that it’s physically impossible to overthrow Benjamin. Expect more long passes to Benjamin in future games. 3rd/4 swing to Crowell; Jairus Byrd shows why he got paid, nice open field tackle on a huge back. Punt.
Rubin and Winn line up for next Saints drive. Brees has to be like who are all these guys. Good play by Brees throwing to zone Kruger vacated to blitz. Veteran play and why you can’t blitz the Manning-Brady-Brees echelon of QBs.3 Kirksey gets sealed; Haden crushed 20+ run by Ingram. Followed by a crisp end around to Cooks. Two runs, 50 yards. Sean Payton, ladies and gents. 2nd/2 from Browns 9 — great tackle by Tashon Gipson on Ingram saves TD sets up 3rd/1 no gain. Payton kicks FG on 4th/2; Brees pissed. 10-3 Browns.
Scary moment as Rob Ryan has had enough of the naked bootleg rollout moving pocket shit and dials up a weak side corner blitz. Perfect play call, probably should’ve been grounding on Hoyer, lucky wasn’t injured. (Cut to Manziel #2 and #3 on 3rd/9 with Hoyer dinged. Fox is DYING for JFF.) Third down pass batted down; first three and out. Now comes the shaky Hoyer for the next quarter or so. Punt.
Hoyer sits next to Shanahan on bench. Manziel not near them. I don’t think those two are getting along super just yet.
Saints running game still working on the edge; again running away from Kruger.
PICK SIX. (Missed PAT.)
Kruger again. Kind of a bad play by Graham I think because it was catchable. Pivotal play (obv.) because the Saints’ offense is starting to click. Gipson probably should’ve stopped at the one yard line and let offense kill some clock. Haha, j/k.
Jimmy Graham now discovered. Mixing the run game and Graham and giving the Browns D fits. Even without timeouts, Saints march 85 yards in two minutes. Six targets of Graham, five catches including the TD. Whitner pretty sketchy in pass cover. I loved the timeout by Pettine once the Saints came out in their offense for the TD bid with eight seconds left — smart TO. Of course, Payton plays chess so he probably saved his GOOD play for after the Browns’ timeout. Also Pettine must’ve forgot to emphasize not to let Graham get off the line and/or don’t let him get single cover and/or whatever happened to ‘are you ready to play some press man?’
Anyway nice play by Graham with the strong hands to hang on when Haden goes for the breakup. 16-10 at halftime.
Browns get ball to start. Penalty on return. West running first down. Blown pattern. Second down, MANZIEL HANDOFF. Hoyer back out for 3rd/8. Actually converts by Thomas is called for a very sketchy holding call. Very sketchy. 3rd/18, incomplete punt. Who is calling for the Manziel nonsense? Haslam? Goodell? Chris Berman? Mary Kay Cabot? I sure as hell hope Pettine was pressured into that because it’s asinine. (Cut to Manziel #4 slow mo shot going to commercial.)
Browns pass rush stuffed; Armonty Bryant in particular looked ineffective. Justin Gilbert face plant. Harmless play but Gilbert lands hard, is out immediately, and I think I spied a fencers pose. Would not be surprised if he’s against Ravens. Billy Winn with a nice pressure on but Brees finds Ingram on a Brees-like play. Ingram gashing. And another Graham TD. It’s 3rd/goal from the 2. Don’t let Graham beat you; don’t have a 5-9 CB defending Jimmy Graham. Actually a pretty good play call putting Graham in motion and actually Skrine lays a good hit on Graham stopping him with 0 YAC but all they need is 2 yds. Saints up 17-16.
Browns ball. Run, run, first down. MANZIEL PACKAGE!! Loss of two; dropped pass by Agnew; Hoyer gets to run out and try to pick up 3rd/12. And he gets it! Great job by Hoyer; stop that nonsense Coach Pett. (Sideline shot #5 of Manziel. What are they hoping for a money sign?) Illegal substitution, 2nd/12. No rhythm with these QB rotation shenanigans. (Sideline shot #6.) Hoyer manages to get another first down. Crowell with two PUNISHING runs. Hoyer at this point 12/24, 94 yds and those stats tell none of the story. Run game clicking don’t gaudy numbers. Nice rollout pass to Hawkins, first/goal at 10. Cut back run, TD West!
Watch 77-Greco cut and 72-Schwartz wash their men setting up West’s cut back and 10 yard untouched TD run. Beautiful. BEAUTIFUL!! Our line is going to make this season.4 23-17.
Nice to see Hoyer and Manziel sitting next to each other after that TD.
Saints ball. Haden really isn’t the guy for run defense, Saints convert 3rd/1. Dansby drawing Graham in coverage and let’s be real — Brees to Graham is a tough cover for every team in the NFL.
Saints still driving. Whitner and Gipson called on to make plays as Ingram is getting to the second level consistently now. DBryant and Robertson will great pressure and Brees grounds ball. But no penalty. Just. Whatever man. Completion to Graham to the three against good coverage by Haden; TD Ingram. 24-23 Saints. Three TDs in last three Saints’ possessions. But make the grounding call, k? Thx.
Browns ball down by one in the fourth quarter. 3rd/1 run play converted by Crowell. This is so different from past Browns’ teams. Browns were 7-16 in 3rd down converts (2-2 on 4th down) but seemed better. Punt on 4th/3 from Saints 48. Fine.
Saints ball and Payton’s got things figured out going into this drive. Graham gets his 10th and last catch with seven minutes left. Another grounding non-call leads to a first down convert and the Saints have ball in Browns territory with lead and six minutes left. Holy fuck. Run play, ball on Browns 36, five mins left. Ball on Browns 31, in FG range, four mins left. 3rd/5, timeout Saints, 3:36 left.
Play of the game candidate #1: Dansby sack!
Blown assignment at the line? Pierre Thomas supposed to pick up blitz? I duno but Dansby is all over Brees and fast and FINISHES. No chance for Brees. Absolute game saver, forces punt.
Browns ball at four yard line, 2:46 and let’s just take each play. Bad opening incompletion, 2nd/10. Loss of two for West but HORSECOLLAR. Wait, no it’s offsides. Either way, breaks going Browns’ way. 2nd/5, West gain two.. wait spotted as gain of four. 3rd/1, quick out to Austin for first down. TWO MINUTE WARNING. 1st/10 at 20, another bad incompetion pass-to-nowhere. Ugh. 2nd/10 Browns 18. Swing to Gabriel, 3rd/3 and another clutch crisp out route to Austin to pick up first down. Swing to Gabriel, no gain, 2nd/10, timeout Browns. Offense not really moving here… but still on the field. Hoyer sacked, 3rd/12 from 32. Slant to Gabriel, FOURTH/SEVEN.
Play of the game candidate #2: Barnidge fourth down convert!
When everything was on the line Hoyer throws a rocket perfectly on target and Barnidge makes catch. Clutch. Big balls. But then while the clock is running down under 30 seconds Hoyer does NOT spike ball but instead gives us.
Play of the game candidate #3: Austin sideline catch and out of bounds to stop clock!
Clock’s running, Hoyer rolls out fires strike. Austin. Buddy here is your vet WR. He creates his own space (ok he pushes off a little), does NOT step out of bounds, makes clutch catch. And THEN! And then we have a coach who keeps his head and makes sure his team gets seven precisou seconds put back on the clock! This is not the Shurmur-Crennell era!!
SHIT. Still a 56 FG attempt from here. Still work to do. Pass batted down. I’m nervous watching the replay.
Play of the game candidate #4: Hawkins catches pop-up without incident!
Second and ten and Hoyer hit wide open Hawkins. Flag on the play.
Let us pause and reflect:
- Our QB didn’t miss the wide open receiver.
- Our receiver didn’t fall on his ass.
- Our receiver didn’t drop the balloon pass thrown to him.
- The penalty flag was not against us.
Can you freaking believe that shit??
This sets up Cundiff. Here’s how Coach watched it and who he watched it with.
You two are tougher than me because I couldn’t watch.
But here it is.
Glorious. Simply glorious. I can’t think of a better win since Ohio State beat Miami and I’m serious.
I suppose there will be more to say later but for now, ,, for now I’m still in the afterglow.