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Game day blog: Browns vs. Packers (preseason opener)

By Nate Ulrich Published: August 13, 2011

Final recap: Browns 27, Packers 17 (box score; game story)

The final scores of NFL preseason games are virtually meaningless, but the Browns have to be encouraged by the way quarterback Colt McCoy operated coach Pat Shurmur's West Coast offense for the first time against another team.

In the three series in which he played, McCoy completed 9-of-10 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown. He led the team on two touchdown drives and finished with a passer rating of 152.1.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who completed 6-of-8 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown, looked good. McCoy, though, looked better.

The Browns' starting defense wasn't as impressive as McCoy and Co., but Dick Jauron's men were respectable. They forced the Packers' first-team offense to a three-and-out to start the game. But when the Packers changed the pace and ran a no-huddle offense, they easily marched down the field. Jauron will certainly be focusing on that drive this week at practice.

Other than McCoy's performance, perhaps the best news for the Browns is that they escaped their first exhibition game without any of their key players suffering major injuries.

Here's a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the Browns' first exhibition game:

Game action

End 1Q: Browns 7, Packers 7 -- The Browns' first real trial run of coach Pat Shurmur's West Coast offense yielded positive results. Quarterback Colt McCoy capped an eight-play, 71-yard drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Josh Cribbs in front corner of end zone. Phil Dawson's extra-point kick was good, giving the Browns a 7-0 lead with 8:41 left in the opening quarter. McCoy completed 5-of-5 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown during the scoring drive. The Packers countered when quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Greg Jennings with 4:38 left in the first quarter. The Browns' defense forced the Packers to go three-and-out on the first drive of the game.

End 2Q: Packers 17, Browns 14 -- McCoy opened the second quarter with back-to-back completions of 19 and 37 yards to tight end Benjamin Watson. Those first downs set up running back Peyton Hillis' 3-yard rushing touchdown. Dawson made the PAT to give the Browns a 14-7 advantage with 13:46 left in the second quarter. The Browns' backup defense gave ground on the ensuing series, but it held against Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn and Co. in red zone. The Packers had to settle for kicker Mason Crosby's 31-yard field goal, which trimmed the Browns' lead to 14-10 with 6:18 left before halftime. Browns backup quarterback Seneca Wallace entered the game on the next series. The Packers took a 17-14 lead at halftime by scoring a touchdown with 27 seconds left in the first half. Flynn threw a pass toward the end zone, but it appeared to be tipped by Browns cornerback Ramzee Robinson and Packers wide receiver Tori Gurley. The deflected pass dropped into the hands of Packers tight end Spencer Havner. Despite trailing at halftime, the Browns have to be pleased with the performance of their first-team offense. McCoy played in three series, and the Browns' offense scored two touchdowns with him in the game. McCoy completed 9-of-10 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown with a passer rating of 152.1.

End 3Q: Browns 24, Packers 17 -- With backups from both teams taking center stage, the Browns tied the score 17-17 when kicker Jeff Wolfert made a 46-yard field goal with 10:09 left in third quarter. The Browns later recaptured the lead with a defensive touchdown. Undrafted rookie linebacker Brian Smith came around the left side of the Packers' offensive line, hit quarterback Graham Harrell in the back and forced him to fumble. Linebacker Titus Brown scooped up the fumbled and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown. Wolfert made the PAT to give the Browns a 24-17 advantage with 7:00 left in the third quarter.

End 4Q: Browns 27, Packers 17 --  Wolfert scored the only points of the final quarter. He made a 44-yard field goal with 1:52 remaining in the game.

Pregame notes

Preview stories via Ohio.com: 1. The Browns are seeking answers in their preseason opener. 2. Scouting report for Browns vs. Packers. 3. My list of the top 10 Browns players to watch tonight. 4. Former Packers running back Brandon Jackson is eager to prove he fits in with the Browns.

Top storylines -- 1. Pat Shurmur will make his preseason debut as a head coach at any level. He is the 13th full-time head coach of the Browns, and he has strong ties to his first opponent. The 46-year-old Shurmur's late uncle, Fritz, was a legendary defensive coordinator who helped Shurmur's new boss, Browns President Mike Holmgren, win Super Bowl XXXI when they coached the Packers together. 2. Quarterback Colt McCoy will test drive Shurmur's West Coast offense for the first time in a real-game setting. The starters are expected to play for one quarter, Shurmur said. 3. Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron's 4-3 defense will debut in Cleveland with two rookies starting on the line: tackle Phil Taylor, a first-round (21st overall) draft pick, and right end Jabaal Sheard, a second-round (37th overall) selection. 4. Several players will try to grab the attention of Shurmur and his staff in attempt to make the team. NFL teams are expected to trim their rosters from 90 to 75 players on Aug. 30. Rosters will be trimmed to 53 players on Sept. 3. One undrafted rookie to watch is cornerback James Dockery. He has turned heads during training camp by making play after play. 5. Several Browns players who suffered season-ending injuries last season will try to shake off their rust. The list includes linebackers D'Qwell Jackson, Scott Fujita and Kaluka Maiava, offensiive lineman Tony Pashos and tight end Evan Moore. Rookie wide receiver Greg Little, a second-round (59th overall) pick, isn't coming off an injury, but he was suspended for all of last season at the University of North Carolina. In other words, Little will feel full-force hitting for the first time in more than a year.

Inactive players — Packers: WR Brett Swain, CB Charles Woodson, S/CB Brandon Underwood, CB Davon House, CB Sam Shields, CB Brandian Ross, LB Diyral Briggs, NT Chris Donaldson, OL Adrian Battles and OL Chris Campbell. Browns: DE Jabari Fletcher (right knee), LB Chris Gocong (stinger), SS Eric Hagg (left knee), RB Montario Hardesty (torn left ACL last September), WR Mohamed Massaquoi (left foot), WR Carlton Mitchell (finger surgery on Friday) and FS Usama Young (left hamstring).

Lineup changes Packers: Pat Lee will start in place of Woodson at left cornerback. Browns: Mike Adams will start in place of Young at free safety; Maiava will start in place of Gocong at weakside linebacker.

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