The Browns beat Houston with a bang. Their 27-17 win was laced with big hits. They’re not just winning -- they’re 5-1 since a loss at New England. They’re walloping.
The Browns beat Houston with a bang. Their 27-17 win was laced with big hits.
They’re not just winning -- they’re 5-1 since a loss at New England. They’re walloping.
Safety Brodney Pool separated tight end Owen Daniels from the ball and his senses on one tone-setting play.
“I liked it,” Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham said with a grin. Linebacker Antwan Peek blasted through the line, hit Matt Schaub, and kept flailing his arms like a madman until he was sure the sack was in the bag. Stumpy lineman Shaun Smith barged like a beer truck through for another sack.
“We want to mentally and physically challenge the other team,” Grantham said. “You do that with physical hits and a physical style of play.
“That’s always a point of emphasis with us.”
Even the glamour boys are blasting. After a key fourth-down catch, wideout Braylon Edwards blew away 2006 defensive rookie of the year DeMeco Ryans.
“This year, guys are playing for so much more,” Edwards said. “Guys are playing that much harder for each other.”
The 2006 Browns lost their 11th game 30-0 to fall to 3-8. The 2007 Browns head to Arizona at 7-4.
“You’re playing for something,” Edwards said. “You know in your head, ‘I catch this ball, I get a first down. My team’s happy. We have a better chance of being 7-4.’
“As opposed to, you catch a slant, you get knocked out, and at the end of the day you guys are still 3-13. I mean ... what for?”
The Browns committed big bucks to certain offensive linemen largely because they’re athletic and skilled against the pass rush. But ...
“We pride ourselves on being physical,” left tackle Joe Thomas said. “As a line, we like to slam it up the middle on people.”
The Browns nearly doubled Houston’s rushing output, 148 yards to 77. That reflects punishing play on both sides.
“Jamal (Lewis) ran the ball like crazy,” Edwards said.
Lewis is a blue-collar, cold-weather slammer.
“He tries to run people over,” Thomas said. “That really adds to the physicality of our offense.”
Lewis is body-punch, set-up-the-late-rounds heavyweight with speed.
“Defenses wear down,” he said. “They don’t want to tackle.”
Texans running back Ron Dayne outweighs Browns safety Sean Jones by more than 30 pounds. When Jones slammed into Dayne and drove him backward, the Browns on the sideline leaped in unison.
“Sean always gets a big hit,” Pool said. “Every game.”
Daven Holly is a pesky little cornerback who seems to enjoy as much contact as he can get away with against bigger receivers.
“We pride ourselves on being physical,” Holly said. “The fans appreciate it, for one. When we see guys diving and making big hits, we rally behind that, too.”
The defense is starting to cut down on its misses. It allowed a season-low 314 yards Sunday.
“There’s a fine line between being a little off and being really good,” Grantham said. “It’s starting to come.”
Reach Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or e-mail email@example.com