Game 13: Dominating Defense Leads To Win
17 total yards given up leads to rout.
by Steve Saslow
The defense dominated this game and because of that get straight A's. 17 total yards given up, eight sacks, and five takeaways. You can't do it much better than that.Here are our position by position grades:
Drew Bledsoe was keying on getting the ball to Eric Moulds who isn't happy with being more of a decoy lately. The focus on him caused an interception in the first quarter he threw it behind him near the goal line and misfired on several other throws. He wasn't as sharp as he had been the past three weeks finishing with just 100 yards passing on 12 of 27 for a QB rating of 51.5. J.P. Losman finished up the game and dodged a sack for a 10 yard gain that kept a scoring drive alive. He finished with one completions for 10 yards. Grade D: Didn't do much, but didn't have to.
Willis McGahee ran hard all day on his way to his sixth 100 yard game of the season. He finished with 105 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns. It wasn't all good, he dropped a handoff from Bledsoe that the Browns recovered but they missed a field goal. He also fumbled another ball that was recovered by the Bills. Joe Burns carried once on third and three and came up short. He played some fullback down the stretch for Shaud Williams who made the most of his NFL debut. In the final drive of the game he was the catalyst as he scored his first NFL touchdown and finished with 42 yards on 10 carries and a 10 yard reception. He showed the skills he did in preseason. Daimon Shelton did a great job blocking for McGahee and picking up the blitz. He had a great block on McGhaee's second score. He also caught one pass. Grade A: Did the job for the offense.
Eric Moulds was the key to the offense early as he caught a 24 yard pass setting up a field goal. He also had his hands on a couple of passes for potential scores on that drive but couldn't pull it in and dropped another pass on the goal line in the third quarter but it was a bit behind him. He finished with three catches for 38 yards. Lee Evans scored a touchdown and had three other catches for first downs along with a 48 yard reverse. He finished with 33 yards receiving. Josh Reed converted a third down with a reception for six yards. Ryan Neufeld was held without a catch but blocked well. Jason Peters dropped the only pass that was headed his way. Rod Trafford caught a late pass for 10 yards from Losman. Grade C+: Could have made more plays to help Bledsoe out.
Mike Williams was inactive and Marcus Price started in his place. Price had some nice blocks on sweeps on the right side. Ross Tucker was called for holding and Jonas Jennings had a false start on the field goal drive in the third quarter. Jennings had some nice blocks on sweeps. Trey Teague got banged up late in the game giving Dylan McFarland his first NFL action at guard as Tucker moved to center. Teague did recover a fumble. Ryan Denney became the latest defensive lineman to play tackle. He was in on one play. Grade A: Banged up unit performed well, allowing only one sack and leading the way to 215 yards on the ground for a 5.1 yard average.
Aaron Schobel had a costly off sides penalty in the red zone that negated an interception and the Browns scored on the next play. He did force a fumble on a pressure of Jeff Garcia, It was recovered by Chris Kelsay who also had a nice sack for a 15 yard loss. Sam Adams had two sacks. Pat Williams bottled up the middle well to open up pressure and containment elsewhere. Grade A+: Dominated the line of scrimmage.
London Fletcher was all over the field including a nice stop for a loss in the red zone. He was constantly in the Browns backfield pressuring the quarterback and shutting down the running backs. He finished with six tackles. Jeff Posey lined up in the neutral zone on a third and one that was stopped giving the Browns a first down. He did have a third down sack later in the quarter. Takeo Spikes forced two fumbles and had a sack and led the team with seven tackles. Grade A+: They were all over the field.
Terrence McGee had seven tackles and an interception negated by a penalty. Troy Vincent returned to action after missing 9 games and started the game at free safety instead of Rashad Baker. He got a sack on the first defensive play and had an interception and a fumble recovery in his return. Nate Clements recovered a fumble and picked off a pass, both lead to scores. Lawyer Milloy was uncharacteristically quiet but did add to the sack paradeGrade A+: -12 yards net passing, simply perfect.
Nate Clements fumbled a punt return in the red zone and struggled returning punts all day averaging 2.7 yards a return. Jonathan Smith rumbled 26 yards on a reverse on a punt return but ran backwards on his other two returns. Brian Moorman finished with a 38 yard average on three returns. Two were downed inside the five but only one counted. Kevin Thomas made a nice play knocking the ball back into the field on the other but he was the first one to touch it when he went out of bounds, which is a penalty. Lawrence Smith was called for a false start penalty that took a 33 yard Rian Lindell field goal off the board. The 38 yard attempt had a botched snap, Moorman tried to throw for a touchdown but it was short. Lindell did hit three field goals in the game from 23, 21, and 37 yards out. Terrence McGee averaged 18 yards on two returns. The coverage unit was solid allowing just 19.3 yards on eight kickoff returns and eight yards on the one punt return. Grade B: Weren't the stars this week but didn't have to be.
Mike Mularkey took a gamble early going for it on 4th and 1 in the red zone and it worked but unfortunately they had to settle for a field goal. He continues to bring out the trick plays in droves and they are mostly successful. A 48 yard reverse by Evans. A direct snap to Jonathan Smith to convert a third down. A reverse on a punt return. All three worked. Fired up his team after slow start. Jerry Gray had the defense playing magnificently. Good game plan on offense to feed it to McGahee. Grade A+: Four in a row is very nice for rookie head coach.
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