CLEVELAND—It has been a long time coming.
The Browns secondary stepped up and made the plays they needed to make and were instrumental in the Browns 7-6 defensive battle win. There were no bigger plays made than with the game on the line and the Chargers on the Browns’ 44-- needing just a field goal to win-- when Buster Skrine batted down Philip Rivers’ pass intended for Malcom Floyd on fourth down. With no timeouts, the Browns were able to kneel twice and improve their record to 2-6, including consecutive wins at home.
“It’s super satisfying,” Joe Haden said. The game was on the line and all (the Chargers) needed was a field goal to win. Basically, the 35-(yard line) was a touchdown to us.”
Skrine said that captain D’Qwell Jackson made it clear in the huddle.
“D’Qwell said we’ve got to make this play,” Skirne said. “We definitely had the mindset that we have to win this game.
“Coach Shurmur has been preaching to us, finish, finish, finish, and we did it today.”
Jackson was impressed with Skrine stepping up and making the play.
“He’s a fighter,” Jackson said. “As a young player, we have confidence in him and he made the play.”
Skrine downplayed the play, but said he was prepared for it.
“In the coverage, the way the coverage was it worked out for me (to make the play),” Skrine said. “We worked on that play all week and they ran the exact same play.”
Skrine had been victimized in recent weeks filling in for Haden and Dimitri Patterson, but came up big against San Diego.
“I’ve been playing football a long time,” Skrine said. “Sometimes, people make plays and sometimes you make plays.”
The Browns held Rivers and the Chargers to no touchdowns and just 154 yards passing. They also held future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates to just two receptions for 14 yards. In fact, the Chargers had 60- and 41- yards passing in their final possessions of each half in the hurry up offense having just 53 yards passing the rest of the game. Ronnie Brown had seven receptions for 85 yards.
However, it still came down to the final drive.
“We came in focused on (Gates),” Ward said. “We take pride against every tight end. Everyone was around the football.”
Skrine was told he would be on Gates quite a bit and was very happy with his performance.
“Coach had told me that I was going to be on him,” Skrine said. “I feel good about (holding him down).”
The Chargers took over on their 12-yard line with 2:36 to play and after hitting Gates on the first play for nine yards, he hit back-to-back passes to Brown for 21- and 11-yards and quickly the Chargers were to the Browns’ 44 with 1:41 to play.
However, Rivers threw three-straight incomplete passes setting up the fourth-and-10.
“We knew we had four downs to stop them and it came down to that last play and we made it,” Jackson said.
Haden said that defensive coordinator Dick Jauron had the defense in good situations.
“Coach puts us in that situation,” Haden said. “Everybody executed and did their job. It feels so good to win the game.”
The Browns marched 70 yards on their first possession for a touchdown, but after that were stymied on the offensive side of the ball for the rest of the game, punting the final nine times they had the ball, with the exception of the kneel down to end the game.
Haden said that was alright with the defense, once the Browns took the 7-0 lead.
“We had it basically that if they didn’t score, we would win if we kept them out of the end zone.”
Pat Shurmur said he felt the defense, specifically the secondary was up to the task.
“I think they felt challenged by the opponent,” Shurmur said. “They have great pride and they went out and executed.”
The defense set the tone early as on the Chargers first drive they opted to go for it on fourth-and-one from the Brown’s 30 and T.J. Ward stepped up and made a big play as Jackie Battle was dropped for no gain.
“It was a big play for us,” Ward said. “They were driving and I shot the gap and made the play.”
Despite the big game by the defense, they might have been the recipients of divine Providence as Robert Meacham dropped a sure touchdown pass running uncovered down the middle of the field with 7:53 to play in the game.
“Definitely God was on our side,” Haden said. “It was a blown coverage.”