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Browns Browns Archive The Year This Week Didn't Suck: Week 2
Written by Jonathan Knight

Jonathan Knight

Browns-Bengals 2007As we struggle to survive another season with the new-era Browns, one way we can try to get through it (besides alcohol and heavy medication) is to look back at the best individual weeks of the Browns’ new era to remember times in recent memory when this particular week didn’t suck.

Basically nobody was surprised when the Browns laid down a steaming turd on opening day 2007, getting emasculated by Pittsburgh at home in a game highlighted by the Browns committing four penalties on a single play. This is just what the Browns tended to do, and even at that point, we’d seen worse.

While unexpected, their subsequent trading of starting quarterback Charlie Frye 48 hours later still fit in with the holy-crap-the-building’s-on-fire strategy they’d taken toward everything over the previous several seasons.

Let’s pause the DVR for a second and reflect on the absurdity of that situation. No matter how bad a quarterback looks in the first game of the season, how often does he get automatically benched? Basically never. (See Brandon Weeden.) 

So to instantly trade him? And adding insult to injury, to then only get a sixth-round draft pick? Even by the Browns’ standards, this was patently ridiculous and completely humiliating. 

So the season was one week old and we were already halfway to crazytown. With essentially unknown Derek Anderson now suddenly the starting quarterback and much-ballyhooed rookie Brady Quinn waiting in the wings (potentially to become the starter if they decided to trade Anderson the following week), the Browns were well on their way to yet another banal and ultimately forgettable season.

Then came Week 2.

It’s still hard to comprehend what really happened that bright September afternoon at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Even now, you look back at it and shake your head and wonder if it was just an incredibly bizarre dream, the kind you get after eating Jeno’s Pizza Rolls too close to bedtime.

Yet it wasn’t. There was a time - in the Browns’ new era - that they scored 51 points. Not in a month, but in a single afternoon.

This was the absolute last thing we expected. Romeo Crennel could have turned into a werewolf in the second quarter and that would have been less surprising. If the Browns’ offense - expected to be improved with Jamal Lewis, Kellen Winslow Jr., and Braylon Edwards all on board - imploded with Frye at the controls, why would it do better with the guy who couldn’t beat out Frye in the preseason?

That guy - that completely unremarkable Derek Anderson character - threw for 328 yards and five touchdowns against a Bengals’ defense that had shut out the Browns in their previous meeting nine months before.

But it wasn’t just Anderson. Braylon Edwards finally looked like the player everyone thought he’d be: eight catches, 146 yards, two touchdowns. Plus, hometown hero Joe Jurevicius tacked on another two touchdown catches, while Winslow added six catches for 100 more. For the first time since its creation, Browns players were putting up numbers that could lead you to victory in fantasy football.

But even more importantly, amidst the Derek Anderson Holiday Special, Jamal Lewis frickin’ went off.

After years of watching him tactically castrate the Browns’ defense, Lewis clobbered somebody on behalf of the Browns. He rolled up 216 yards rushing - the most by a Browns’ back in 45 years -  enabling Anderson and the passing game to ignite like aluminum foil in the microwave.

Put it all together and the Cleveland offense racked up 554 total yards. And again, Coach Shurmur, that’s in one day.

Ordinarily, when an offense plays this well, the result is an easy victory. Not so fast, says the 2007 Browns’ defense. Establishing a cotton-candy philosophy that would last throughout the season (and beyond, come to think of it), the Browns allowed the Bengals to put up nearly identical offensive numbers: 531 total yards, 33 first downs, and 45 points.

Carson Palmer tossed for 401 yards, and Chad OchoWhoGivesAShit caught eight passes for a whopping 209.

But see, this we were more accustomed to. It was the Browns’ offense keeping up that was the reason we all had boners.

It was - to dust off a phrase not used in Macaulay Culkin’s lifetime - a shootout on the shores of Lake Erie. Browns fans, used to witnessing a game in which their own team didn’t play defense, got to see how fun football can be when neither team does.

Up and down the field they went, stopped by nothing except commercial breaks. The whole display was so unexpected, so completely out of nowhere, you couldn’t help but enjoy every single second. As a result, it became the most exciting game the Browns have played since they returned (and considering the Quaker Oats oatmeal blandness of the Bill Belichick years, likely their most exciting contest in two decades).

Edwards’ second touchdown gave the Browns a 48-38 lead five minutes into the fourth quarter. Then, after the Browns forced a punt -  a PUNT, by God! - Phil Dawson stretched the margin to 13 and put the Browns over 50 points for the first time since the human sacrifice in Pittsburgh in the ’89 opener.

Naturally, the Browns’ defense simply had to let the Bengals score on their next possession to cut the lead to six points. But Anderson & Co. melted the clock down to a minute remaining before punting and the Bengals would have to go 91 yards to try to take the lead. Absolutely nobody in the stadium thought this would be difficult.

As easily as you’d wrap up with a Snuggie, the Bengals reached midfield. With 20 seconds left, Palmer tried to thread the needle with a long pass along the sideline, but Browns’ cornerback Leigh Bodden intercepted it to clinch victory in perhaps the most wacky-ass game in team history.

Five years later, we still occasionally shake our heads and try to determine if this game really happened or if it was just a little humorous flatulence from our weary subconscious.

Real it was. And not only did it serve as a Katy Perry firework, but it also catapulted the Browns into the most enjoyable season since their return.

You can also get more nuggets of Cleveland sports wisdom/history/suffering by following JKnightWriter on Facebook.

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