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Game day blog: Browns vs. Titans (Week 4)

By Nate Ulrich Published: October 2, 2011

Final score: Titans 31, Browns 13 (box score; game story)

The Titans offense didn't do a lot. It didn't have to. The Browns weren't much of a challenge despite leading in nearly every offensive category. Three blown defensive coverages in the first half was really the difference.

McCoy set two team records for completions and passes attempted by going 49 for 61 for 350 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Tim Couch held the previous record for pass completions in a game with 36 against the Titans in 2002. Brian Sipe held the previous record for passes attempted with 57 against the San Diego Chargers in 1981.

It obviously didn't matter. Hasselbeck completed 10 passes and had 20 attempts. He also had three touchdown passes.

End of first quarter: Titans 7, Browns 3

Both teams got their first, first quarter points of the season and the Browns are looking fairly crisp on offense. Montario Hardesty is looking extremely well at the end of the quarter, getting his first action of the game.

McCoy looks to have carried over some of the swagger from last week, spreading the ball around to five different receivers. McCoy Finished first half 5 of 8 for 75 yards.

Instant impressions

  • Good early sign: Josh Cribbs returning kicks. Well, back to return kicks. opening kickoff went out of endzone.

  • First two plays go to Hillis, first a pass and then a run.

  • And we have a Brian Robiskie sighting. On third down, he gets his first catch of the season. An eight-yard reception for a first down. Browns started first drive very crisp, before stalling at Titans 39.

  • After pinning the Titans deep, Joe Haden and Sheldon Brown each break up crucial passes to force a three-and-out. Haden is becoming a Pro Bowl level player with yet another third down pass breakup.

  • McCoy is starting this game with SOME of the vigor he ended last week with. Having Hillis for play action certainly helping the cause. McCoy is spreading it around. Hillis, Robiskie, Little and Smith have catches.

  • Phil Dawson with a 48-yard FG to give Browns a 3-0 lead at 6:48 mark of the first quarter. Its the Browns first points this season in the opening quarter, entering the game being outscored 20-0 in the first quarter (three games).

  • And the Browns followed those points with another letdown. Chris Gocong lost containment on running back Chris Johnson, giving him a 25-yard run. Johnson's longest of the season. Then, TJ Ward lost tight end Craig Stevens in coverage. Stevens was all alone in the endzone for a 12-yard TD catch. It is the Titans first points in the first quarter this season too.

  • Montario Hardesty gets his first action in the third offensive series and picked up 15 yards on four carries. He also fought a defender to catch 27 yard pass. it quickly turned into Hardesty show.

Halftime: Titans 21, Browns 6

The Browns are having major issues in the defensive secondary today. First it was Ward, appearing to get lost on the Stevens touchdown in the first quarter, then it was Jared Cook burning Fujita in coverage and allowing Usama Young to whiff on over-the-top coverage  for an 80-yard touchdown.

Dmitri Patterson got burned on a 57-yard pick play to set up the Titans third touchdown.

On all three passes, the targeted receivers were all by themselves.

It has led to Matt Hasselbeck accumulating 194 yards and three touchdown passes on eight completions (12 attempts).

Meanwhile, the Browns offense was stagnant, losing the good flow it developed in the first quarter and struggling to move the football. Colt McCoy is 13 of 20 for 137 yards.

Instant impressions

  • Another strong drive by the Browns stalls to start the quarter and they have to settle for a 51-yard field goal by Dawson.

  • On the next play from scrimmage, Hasselbeck finds tight end Jared Cook for an 80-yard touchdown. Major defensive breakdowns on the play. Scott Fujita was beaten in coverage by Cook and when safety Usama Young rotated over he took a bad angle and whiffed on a tackle.

  • Titans tight ends are killing the Browns. Stevens and Cook both with touchdowns and both happened on what looked like broken plays.

  • Hillis played the first two series and now its all been Hardesty as Hillis stands on sidelines. Its been just two series, but Hardesty certainly provided a spark right before the end of the quarter.

  • Browns defense responded very well on series following Titans touchdown, limiting Tennessee to a three and out deep in their own territory. Gocong made some strong plays fighting through traffic.

  • It looked like trainers were working on Joe Haden's right foot on the bench, but Haden was quickly back over with rest of defenders on the bench.

  • The Browns gambled on fourth and one and went to Armond Smith, who was tackled short for no gain.

  • Yet more confusion in Browns secondary leads to another big gain. This time Nate Washington utilized a pick play on Dmitri Patterson to get wide open for a short pass that turned into a 57-yard gain. Haden caught Washington at the four yard line. Next play, Damian Williams catches a four-yard TD pass to make it 21-6 with 33 seconds before half.

End of third quarter: Titans 31, Browns 6

What is there to say? The Browns offense is stagnant and struggling. It can move down the field a little, but can't score. The Titans are incomplete control and are letting Johnson run down the clock now. McCoy's pick six throw to Justin Babineaux was ugly.

Instant impressions

  • The Titans are taking the air out of the game a bit, starting to pound Chris Johnson. It feels like he is bound to break one here soon. When they do pass, the Browns secondary is still struggling. Lavelle Hawkins just caught a ball over the middle and bounced off Sheldon Brown for a 20-yard pickup.

  • Browns get lucky at the end of the Drive when Nate Washington dropped touchdown pass in the endzone. Beautiful throw and route. Just didn't finish. Rod Bironas lined a 39-yard field goal instead. 24-6 Titans.

  • The Browns finally started piecing together something offensively by going to a no huddle. McCoy completed passes to Hardesty, Marecic, Cribbs and Watson. But once he was forced out of the pocket and hit has he was throwing he threw a pass directly to Titans defensive back Justin Babineaux, who took it 97 yards for a touchdown. So much for that momentum.

End of fourth quarter: Titans 31, Browns 13

Instant impressions

  • How many throws underneath will the Browns utilize? The Browns are certainly willing to find that out today. And the Titans are willing to let them.

  • The continuous dink and dunk passes finally led to a Benjamin Watson 10-yard touchdown catch.

  • The game isn't over yet and the Titans are helping keep it alive by passing. Just silly on their part. Haden nearly had a pick down the right sideline and on the next play Mike Adams got one on the left sideline. Browns have the ball with 9:21 left.

  • And the interception amounted to nothing as the Browns turned it over on downs.

  • Joe Haden injured again and leaves the field this time with a left knee injury. His return is listed as questionable, but why would he return to this this game?

  • McCoy really padding the stats here late: Up to 55 pass attempts and 36 completions for 314 yards.  Browns single game record is 57 pass attempts by Brian Sipe on September 7, 1981. McCoy moved past Eric Zeier's 54 attempts (against the Houston Oilers on Nov. 5 1995) for second most attempts in a game in Browns history.

Pregame notes

Preview stories via 1. Marla Ridenour column: Browns coach Pat Shurmur is still trying to figure out his team. 2. Matchup of the week: Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck vs. the Browns' secondary. 3. Storylines. 4. Keys to the game. 5. Numbers to watch. 6. Injury report. 7. Predictions.

Top storylines -- 1. The matchup between the Browns and the Titans will feature a battle between rookie head coaches who are also former offensive linemen. Browns coach Pat Shurmur was a center at Michigan State, and Titans coach Mike Munchak had a hall-of-fame career as a guard for the Houston Oilers, who became the Titans in 1999. Which coach will pave the way for his team to prevail? 2. Mike Heimerdinger, who served as the Titans' offensive coordinator last season, died Friday of cancer. He was 58. 3. Quarterback Colt McCoy and the rest of the Browns’ offense will face their greatest test since the 2011 season began. The Titans have the NFL’s top-ranked defense (261 yards allowed per game). They’re ranked eighth against the run and second against the pass. 4. Chris Palmer returns to Cleveland Browns Stadium as the Titans’ offensive coordinator. Palmer served as the Browns’ head coach for the first two seasons of the team’s expansion era. The Browns went 5-27 with Palmer in charge. 5. Browns offensive lineman Tony Pashos, the projected starter at right tackle, has been inactive for each of the first three games this season with a left ankle injury. However, Pashos is active and expected to make his 2011 regular-season debut today. 6. Other Browns-Titans connections: Browns running backs coach Gary Brown was selected by the Oilers in the eighth round of the 1991 draft. In five seasons with the Oilers, Brown rushed for 2,115 yards in 43 games. … Titans defensive tackle Shaun Smith played for the Browns (2007-08). … Titans offensive assistant Charles London was the assistant manager of Cleveland Browns Stadium (1999-2001). Northeast Ohio connection: Titans wide receivers coach Dave Ragone is from Cleveland. He attended St. Ignatius High School.

Inactives: Browns — LB Titus Brown (ankle), SS Eric Hagg (knee), WR Carlton Mitchell (finger), QB Thaddeus Lewis, OL Steve Vallos, OL Oniel Cousins and TE Jordan Cameron. Titans — LB Gerald McGrath (knee), QB Rusty Smith, CB Chris Hawkins, C Kevin Matthews, T Byron Stingily, DT Zach Clayton and DT Malcolm Sheppard

Lineup changes: Browns -- Not really a change as he has been listed as the starter all season, but offensive lineman Tony Pashos will make his season debut at right tackle. Titans -- None.


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