Final recap: Browns 13, Dolphins 10 (click here for the box score)
The Browns edged the Miami Dolphins when kicker Phil Dawson made a 23-yard field goal as time expired Sunday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium. Browns linebacker David Bowens deflected a pass from Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne near the line of scrimmage, and Browns defensive back Mike Adams intercepted it. Adams returned the pick 25 yards to the Dolphins' 2-yard line with 54 seconds left, setting up Dawson's game-winning kick. The Browns (5-7) now have a two-game winning streak, and the Dolphins (6-6) are back to .500 and fighting for their playoff lives. The Dolphins' sixth-ranked defense shut down Browns running back Peyton Hillis (18 carries for 57 yards) for the most part, but Cleveland's defense did enough to lift the team to victory. The Browns won the turnover battle 3-0. Adams, rookie cornerback Joe Haden and safety Abram Elam finished with one interception apiece. Elam's pick and his subsequent 18-yard return set up Dawson's 23-yard field goal that gave the Browns a 3-0 lead with 1:43 left in the first half. Meanwhile, Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme didn't commit a turnover a week after he apologized for throwing two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown, against the Carolina Panthers. Delhomme completed 24-of-34 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown, a 3-yard strike to tight end Benjamin Watson, who finished with a career-high 10 catches for 100 yards. It was a good day for the Browns' coaching staff, too. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll reeled in Delhomme and emphasized the importance of throwing the ball away instead of forcing ill-advised passes. The advice, which Browns coach Eric Mangini also stressed throughout last week, worked for the most part. However, Delhomme nearly threw an interception that would have been returned for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll turned out to be the Browns' best player. He dropped the ball, and Adams caught his game-changing interception a few plays after Cleveland punted. Yes, the Browns' defense played well in the clutch for the first time in a few weeks. Give credit to defensive coordinator Rob Ryan for making sure his men didn't fold again when it mattered most.
End 1Q: Browns 0, Dolphins 0 -- No scoring. Instant impressions -- 1. Browns special-teams ace Titus Brown suffered a head injury while making a tackle on the opening kickoff. He will not return. 2. The Dolphins marched into field-goal range during their opening drive. But kicker Dan Carpenter's 41-yard attempt was blocked by Browns defensive lineman Shaun Rogers, who swatted the ball with his right hand. 3. The Browns' offense failed to capitalize on Rogers' big special-teams play. They went three-and-out during their first possession. 4. The Browns' defense caught breaks on back-to-back drives. On third-and-2, Dolphins running back Ricky Williams dropped a pass that would have resulted in a first down. Then on third-and-1, Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne threw a low pass to fullback Lousaka Polite, who failed to reach down far enough to haul it in. 5. As expected, the Dolphins' defense is focusing on Browns running back Peyton Hillis, and it's doing a nice job limiting him. Hillis finished the first quarter with four carries for 16 yards (4.0 average), but 13 of those yards were gained with one carry.
End 2Q: Dolphins 3, Browns 3 -- 1. Browns kicker Phil Dawson made a 32-yard field goal with 1:43 left in the first half, giving Cleveland a 3-0 lead. 2. Carpenter made a 60-yard field goal with two seconds left before halftime. Instant impressions -- 1. On first-and-10 at their own 24, the Dolphins went for a kill shot. Henne aired out a deep pass along Cleveland's sideline. Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline had separation from rookie cornerback Joe Haden, but Haden quickly closed the gap and recorded his fourth interception in as many games and his fifth of the season with 12:22 left in the second quarter. Haden is the first Browns player to record an interception in four consecutive games since Ernie Kellerman in 1968. 2. Neither offense can get much going. The Browns' defensive backs are giving Henne trouble. The Dolphins' linebackers are all over Hillis. And, of course, Dolphins standout pass rusher Cameron Wake has pressured Delhomme a few times already. 3. Browns tight end Evan Moore suffered a hip injury. His return is questionable. 4. Elam continues to make big plays week after week. He picked off a pass from Henne with 3:24 left in the second quarter and returned it 18 yards to the Dolphins' 28-yard line. Can the Browns finally capitalize? 5. Well, they didn't capitalize by scoring a touchdown, but at least the Browns took the lead with Dawson's field goal. 6. Rogers came to play today. He followed his blocked field goal with a sack. 7. Even though Rogers' sack resulted in a 7-yard loss, the Dolphins tied the score with Carpenter's clutch kick. His 60-yard field goal is the longest in team history and the longest of his career.
End 3Q: Browns 10, Dolphins 3 -- 1. Delhomme threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Benjamin Watson with 1:16 left in the first quarter. Dawson made the extra point to give the Browns a 10-3 lead. Instant impressions -- 1. The Browns' most productive drive of the day was spoiled when the right side of the offensive line gave up a sack. Dolphins defensive end Tony McDaniel sacked Delhomme for a 9-yard loss. 2. One play later, Dawson missed a 47-yard field goal when the ball deflected off the left upright. 3. Delhomme completed a deep, 37-yard pass to wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi. Three plays later, he completed a short pass to Massaquoi, who turned it into a 33-yard gain after Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith fell down in coverage. On the next play, Delhomme and Watson connected to give the Browns the lead. 4. Haden is playing at an extremely high level today. He's making a case to be in the running for rookie of the year honors.
End 4Q: Browns 13, Dolphins 10 -- 1. Henne threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Anthony Fasano with 10:27 left in the fourth quarter. Carpenter's PAT was good, tying the score 10-10. 2. Dawson made the game-winning, 23-yard field goal as time expired. Instant impressions -- 1. Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline (finger) and Dolphins offensive tackle Vernon Carey (knee) suffered injuries. Their returns are questionable. 2. With about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter and the score tied 10-10, the Dolphins have the Browns right where they want them. Miami entered today's game 6-1 when it holds opponents to 20 points or fewer. 2. Once again, Browns wide receiver/return specialist Josh Cribbs appears to be impeded by the dislocated toes on his right foot. He suffered the injury Nov. 14 against the New York Jets and hasn't been the same since. 3. The Browns started their final drive with 3:39 left in the fourth quarter, but the march fizzled when Wake sacked Delhomme. 4. The Dolphins took over after the Browns punted. Then Browns linebacker David Bowens deflected a pass from Henne near the line of scrimmage and Browns defensive back Mike Adams intercepted it. Adams returned 25 yards to the Dolphins' 2-yard line with 54 seconds left in the fourth quarter. 5. The Browns then took a knee on three consecutive plays to set up Dawson's game-winning kick.
Top storylines -- 1. Dolphins standout wide receiver Brandon Marshall practiced all week, but he won't play today. Marshall, whose hamstring injury sidelined him last week, too, was listed as questionable on the team's injury report. 2. Browns linebacker Matt Roth will face the team that cut him last season. Roth's relationship with Dolphins management soured because of a dispute over his groin injury, and the Browns claimed him off waivers a day after the Dolphins let him go. 3. Browns safety Abram Elam will play in front of several of his friends and relatives from the Miami area. Three of Elam's siblings were murdered in south Florida, but he has risen from rough times in his hometown of Riviera, Fla., to become a success story. Elam said he wants to set an example for the youth from his neighborhood. 4. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano will be reunited with the Browns, who gave him his start in the NFL. Sparano was the offensive quality control coach in Cleveland in 1999 and the offensive line coach in 2000. 5. Browns running back Peyton Hillis needs 95 rushing yards to reach the 1,000-yard plateau. Only eight Browns players have rushed for 1,000 yards in a season. 6. With today's game, the Browns begin their first three-game road trip since 2001. It will also be the first time in franchise history that the Browns have faced all three Florida teams on the road during the same season.
Inactive players: Browns -- WR Jordan Norwood, QB Colt McCoy, WR Carlton Mitchell, DL Brian Sanford, TE Alex Smith, WR Demetrius Williams, DL Jayme Mitchell and LB Scott Fujita. Dolphins -- WR Brandon Marshall, CB Al Harris, LB Channing Crowder, T Matt Kopa, C Eric Ghiaciuc, TE Mickey Shuler, DE Ryan Baker and DT Chris Baker.
Lineup changes: Browns -- Joe Haden will start at cornerback in place of Eric Wright; David Bowens will start at outside linebacker in place of Fujita. Dolphins -- Davone Bess will start at wide receiver in place of Marshall; Pat McQuistan will start at right guard in place of John Jerry; Tim Dobbins will start at inside linebacker in place of Crowder.