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Game day blog: Browns vs. Dolphins (Week 3)

By Nate Ulrich Published: September 25, 2011

FINAL SCORE: Browns 17, Dolphins 16 (game story; box score)

End of first quarter: Dolphins 7, Browns 0

The Browns have to be more efficient on offense, although injuries are a clear issue. With Hillis out, Browns throwing it more. But McCoy is inaccurate with his throws thus far. The interception set up Dolphins first score. He also missed a wide-open Cribbs deep. But not sure if it was Cribbs injuries slowing him or McCoy's inaccuracy. Probably both. Chad Henne has been very sharp for the Dolphins. Its the difference.

Instant impressions


  • Browns pass heavy on first series. First three plays are pass attempts and Ben Watson had a crucial third down conversion.

  • Montario Hardesty looked strong on his lone touch, a six-yard gain.

  • McCoy targeted Mohamed Massaquoi early, trying to throw to him three times on the opening drive. All three were incomplete and the third one was picked off by Jimmy Wilson giving the Dolphins the ball on the Browns 43.

  • The interception set up the Dolphins first score: a 10-yard screen pass from Chad Henne to Daniel Thomas a minute and 53 seconds after the pick. Looked like a well-designed play by Brian Daboll.

  • Chad Henne has started the game 5 for 5 for 65 yards with a touchdown.

  • And the Browns respond to the score with a three and out possession.

  • Cribbs got behind defense on third and 10, but McCoy overthrew him. Not sure if it was Cribbs' injuries not allowing to accelerate or McCoy's inaccuracy early on here. Both are issues early.

  • Davone Bess has been the Dolphin's third down target thus far. Two catches so far, but result has been fourth and 1 both times.

  • Browns got a much needed break when Jayme Mitchell forced a Reggie Bush fumble deep in Browns territory. D'Qwell Jackson with the recovery.

  • Dolphins had the ball for 11 minutes and six seconds in the first quarter.


End of second quarter: Dolphins 10, Browns 7

Can the Browns get the scoreboard to read "Second quarter" throughout the entire game? They seem to play so much better in it, although it was a far from perfect quarter. Colt McCoy seems to play a little better when he is getting banged around a little bit too. Or at least when he has to improvise. His shovel pass under pressure to Montario Hardesty was a momentum builder. A play later, McCoy rolled out to his right and launched a ball to Josh Cribbs in the end zone for a 33-yard TD. Cribbs went full extension on the catch. McCoy is 5 of 14 for 73 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He hasn;t been very accurate so far. Hardesty has proven serviceable in the place of Hillis with 25 yards on six carries.

The Browns offense has to be more successful in the second half.

Chad Henne has been lethal today piling up 191 yards in the first half and completing 15 of 19 attempts. Of course, he has scripted his third downs fairly obviously. All five of Devone Bess' receptions have come on third down, although he has only one third down conversion. Bess was targeted again on the Dolphins' sixth third down, from the Browns' eight, but was unable to make a catch. It is all six times he has been targeted.

Instant Impressions


  • The Dolphins have dominated the clock thus far.

  • Browns are getting chances through defense, but offense has to get rolling.

  • Henne continues to look for Davone Bess on third and long.  That's three times now. Bess has made all three catches, but come up short of converting each time.

  • Likewise, McCoy is looking for Ben Watson on third down. He has two third down catches and conversions now. Browns only two first downs.

  • A nifty shovel pass to Hardesty just gave them their third first down. Browns are rolling now.

  • Colt McCoy owns second quarters. After shovel pass to Hardesty under pressure, MCCoy rolled right and launched a ball into the endzone to Josh Cribbs.

  • Cribbs, who was single covered by Sean Smith, timed his jump and caught the ball for a 33-yard touchdown grab over Smith.

  • Maybe the Browns should pay more attention to Devone Bess on third down? Dolphins have gone to him on every third down. The fifth time he finally converted the catch into a first down at the 2:00 minute warning. The sixth time was the first incomplete pass when he was targeted in the endzone. Scott Fujita was on coverage.

  • At the 3:24 mark, Phil Taylor went down with an apparent leg injury, but jogged off. He missed three plays before returning.

  • Time of possession for the first half: Dolphins: 21:07. Browns: 8:53


End of the third quarter: Dolphins 13, Browns 10

Browns offense continues to sputter. Despite showing some flashes, McCoy just hasn't been accurate all day. Luckily, the defense is bending but not breaking.

Although, they have to be tired. The Dolphins have had the ball for 29:15 in this game. The Browns have had it for 15:45.  

Instant impressions


  • Browns start third quarter much crisper on offense. They had five first downs in the entire first half. Picked up four first downs on the first six plays.

  • Hardesty with a few strong runs on opening drive too, inclduing 18 yarder where he spun off Karlos Dansby.

  • Phil Dawson's field goal at the 10:40 mark allowed him to pass Don Cockroft (1,080 points) and moves into second place on the Browns' all-time scoring list. it also tied the score at 10.

  • The Browns had Dolphins pinned deep and nearly got a safety on third down, but Jabaal Sheard grabbed Henne's facemask. 15-yard penalty instead, helping Dolphins immensely.

  • On the same drive that Sheard was flagged, Dolphins go all the way down the field before imploding. Henne was sacked by Phil Taylor on third and goal from the five, losing three yards. Then, Brandon Marshall pushed down Mike Adams after the play resulting in a 15-yard penalty. Dan Carpenter was able to convert the 41-yard field goal though.

  • It was Phil Taylor's first NFL regular season  sack.

  • Evan Moore finally gets his first catch late in the quarter.


Final score: Browns 17, Dolphins 16

The Browns are 2-1 for the first time since 2002 and got there in a dramatic way.

Colt McCoy certainly plays better under pressure, doesn't he?  He was fairly bad all game, until the game was on the line. Then, all of the sudden, he targeted eight different receivers on the last drive and completed his first five passes. He accounted for all 80 yards, completing nine of 13 passes including the 14-yard touchdown pass to Massaquoi, which was a beauty. McCoy place the ball with enough arch to get over the jumping, outstretched arm of Dolphins corner Jimmy Wilson and into the outstretched hands of Massaquoi. Accuracy he lacked almost the entire day until then, with 43 seconds left.

McCoy was 10 of 26 before the final drive and no Browns receiver, other than Cribbs, had a catch. Little had all three of his catches on the final drive.

Instant impressions



  • Can the offense help the defense here? Defense deserves a good fate today.

  • McCoy has really struggled today, but Miami has helped him immensely. Pass interference call on Nolan Carroll saves Browns on third down, a few minutes later an unnecessary roughness call gives Browns 15 more yards.

  • A lot of unnecessary roughness calls today. Phil Taylor gets one too, hitting a sliding Henne.

  • After another Carpenter field goal, Browns get one more shot, down six, with 3:23 remaining.

  • Browns go to hurry up Offense, and, once again, McCoy is at his best under stress. Hits Little twice and Massaquoi once to start drive. First two catches today for Little.

  • No Browns receiver other than Cribbs had a catch until now.

  • McCoy starts drive with five consecutive completions before targeting Brian Robiskie, who was unable to make the catch.

  • Misses Watson on the next play too.

  • Where was this McCoy all game? Targeted Little, Massaquoi, Cribbs, Little, Moore, Smith, Watson, Robiskie and Hardesty on the drive.

  • McCoy accounts for all yards on the drive: 9 of 13 for 80 yards.

  • Ends drive with an arched, pinpoint pass over defensive back Jimmy Wilson to an outstretched Massaquoi for a touchdown.

  • Celebration call after the touchdown gives Dolphins 15 yards on the kickoff though...and Browns get called for horse collar on kickoff tackle....here we go.

  • Mike Adams with an interception to seal it with 13 seconds left.




Pregame notes


Preview stories via Ohio.com: 1. Matchup of the week: Browns defensive end Jayme Mitchell vs. Dolphins left tackle Jake Long. 2. Browns left guard Jason Pinkston is learning the ropes as a rookie. 3. Storylines. 4. Keys to the game. 5. Numbers to watch. 6. Quote of the week. 7. Predictions. 8. Injury report.

Top storylines-- 1. Browns starting running back Peyton Hillis has been ruled out for today's game, a source told the Beacon Journal about two hours before kickoff. Hillis has been dealing with strep throat and a fever. The Browns still expected Hillis to play as of Saturday night, but he did not look well as he exited the team's locker room this morning. As a result, backup running back Montario Hardesty is expected to start and receive the most extensive playing time of his NFL career. 2. Dolphins offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who held the same position with the Browns the past two seasons, returns to Cleveland Browns Stadium. He will try to earn bragging rights. 3. The Browns are still searching for their first win at home under Shurmur. They also have a chance to establish their best start to a season since 2002, when they won two of three. 4. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, who was an assistant for the Browns in 1999-2000, is on the hot seat. The Dolphins begin a three-game road trip today. Last season, they went 6-2 on the road and 1-7 at home. 5. Other Browns-Dolphins connections: Browns General Manager Tom Heckert spent 10 years (1991-2000) in the Dolphins’ personnel department. … Bryan Wiedmeier, the Browns’ executive vice president of business operations, spent 29 years with the Dolphins. … Browns defensive assistant Chuck Bullough was a Dolphins linebacker (1993-95). … Dolphins assistant head coach/secondary coach Todd Bowles was an assistant for the Browns (2001-04). … Dolphins pass rush coach Bryan Cox spent the past two seasons coaching the Browns’ defensive line. … Dolphins linebacker Jason Trusnik, (Nordonia), played for the Browns the past two seasons. Other Northeast Ohio connections: Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor attended the University of Akron. … Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline (GlenOak) went to Ohio State.

Inactive players -- Browns: QB Thaddeus Lewis,  SS Eric Hagg (knee), RB Peyton Hillis (strep throat),  LB Titus Brown (ankle), OL Tony Pashos (ankle), OL Steve Vallos and TE Jordan Cameron. Dolphins: WR Roberto Wallace (quad), CB Vontae Davis (hamstring), LB Ikaika Alama-Francis, OL Ryan Cook, DE Tony McDaniel (hand), TE Will Yeatman and DE Phillip Merling.

Lineup changes -- Browns: Montario Hardesty will start in place of Hillis at running back; Artis Hicks will get his second consecutive start at right tackle in place of Pashos. Dolphins: Nolan Carroll will replace Davis at cornerback. Lex Hilliard replaces Charles Clay at fullback. Clay is still active.

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