Browns shine in spotlight
NY overshadowed during its first loss
CLEVELAND - Through weeks of frustration, injuries, and a near-quarterback change, the Cleveland Browns never lost hope in this season.
Last night, they might have saved it.
With quarterback Derek Anderson outplaying Eli Manning, Braylon Edwards making big catches, and Eric Wright returning an interception 94 yards for a touchdown, the Browns won on Monday night for the first time since 1993, ending New York's 11-game road winning streak with a 35-14 victory over the defending Super Bowl champions.
Anderson, whose job was in serious jeopardy just a few weeks ago and might have been down to one more loss, threw one of his two touchdown passes to Edwards, who announced his team's return to the NFL's prime-time weekday slot by performing a cartwheel and back flip during pregame introductions and then making the Giants look foolish.
In their first four games, the Browns (2-3) had shown no signs of living up to high expectations following a 10-6 season. They had dropped their first two games at home, lost three in a row overall, and had only a victory over winless Cincinnati to show so far in 2008.
Now, they've got something to brag about.
"This is us," Anderson said. "These were the guys who made plays all last season."
Anderson finished 18 for 29 for 310 yards, Edwards caught five passes for a career-high 154 yards, and Jamal Lewis scored on a 4-yard run for the Browns, who handed the Giants (4-1) their first loss, leaving the Tennessee Titans as the NFL's only unbeaten team.
Manning was picked off three times and the Giants, so dominant through their first four games, were roughed up by the Browns.
Aside from some more silly penalties, the Browns were superior to the Giants, who had reeled off 11 straight wins - 12 counting the Super Bowl - outside of New Jersey since Week 1 last season. But Manning was not himself and New York, which embarrassed Cleveland during the exhibition season, missed an opportunity to open a two-game lead in the brutal NFC East.
"I threw three interceptions," said Manning, who went 18 of 28 for 196 yards and one touchdown. "That's unacceptable. That's not the way we win games. You're going to lose a game every once in a while, but we don't like the way we played. That's what's disappointing."
Edwards's 11-yard TD reception on the first play of the fourth quarter gave the Browns a 27-14 lead, and he punctuated it with a reverse dunk over the goal post. The score capped an 87-yard drive that was bogged down by five Cleveland penalties. In all, the Browns went 117 yards on the drive.
"Forward, backward, forward, backward," said tight end Steve Heiden, who had five catches while starting for injured Pro Bowler Kellen Winslow. "At least we got in there."