Long, late field goal lifts Browns
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Turns out the Cleveland Browns aren’t quitters after all. And they have Phil Dawson to thank for this wild win.
Dawson capped a five field-goal outing by hitting a career-long 56-yarder with 1:39 remaining to secure the Browns’ 29-27 win over the reeling Buffalo Bills on Monday night. Cleveland snapped a two-game skid and avoided wasting a 13-point lead for a third straight time.
The Bills (5-5) had a chance to win with a clutch kick of their own, but Rian Lindell missed a 47-yard attempt with 38 seconds left.
It was a morale-boosting win for the Browns (4-6), who appeared on the verge of completely unraveling after running back Jamal Lewis accused his teammates of quitting during a 34-30 loss to Denver on Nov. 6.
"We got tired of what happened the previous two weeks, getting a lead and losing it in the fourth quarter," receiver Braylon Edwards said. "As a team, we rallied. We came together when we were supposed to and made the plays necessary to win."
Buffalo has lost four straight and five of six, looking nothing like the team that got off to a 4-0 start. Trent Edwards endured another sloppy performance, tossing three interceptions in Buffalo’s first four possessions.
Edwards’ 1-yard sneak gave the Bills a 27-26 lead with 2:35 left in the fourth, but Cleveland responded with a six-play, 28-yard drive that stalled on the Bills 39.
Without hesitation, Browns coach Romeo Crennel sent out Dawson, who calmly got off an easy kick that started toward the right goal post, before curling in to split the uprights.
"On the spur of the moment, you’ve got to be confident. So as soon as we threw the incomplete pass on third down, I was ready to go," Dawson said. "I gave Romeo a nod, and he had the confidence to send me out there."
Brady Quinn earned his first victory in his second career start. The 2007 first-round pick went 14-of-36 for 185 yards. Backup running back Jerome Harrison scored on an electric 72-yard run on the first play of the fourth to put the Browns up 23-13, and Braylon Edwards finished with eight catches for 104 yards.
Cleveland’s defense also stepped up, limiting the Bills to 334 yards. That’s a significant improvement after it surrendered 564 yards in the loss to Denver — and 993 in its previous two games combined.
Cornerback Brandon McDonald keyed the resurgent ‘D,’ picking off an Edwards pass and forcing a fumble after he was burned on Eddie Royal’s 93-yard touchdown that sparked the Broncos’ comeback.
McDonald took advantage of a struggling Edwards, who finished 16-of-26 for 148 yards and a touchdown. At one point, Edwards had as many completions as interceptions.
The miscues were an extension of the troubles Edwards has had in his previous three games. Over a 10-quarter span, including the first quarter against Cleveland, Edwards has thrown eight interceptions, lost two fumbles and given up a safety.
"It’s frustrating right now. I don’t really have any good answers," he said. "I’m frustrated with myself and the way I performed."