Commitment to Running Pays Off
Peyton Hillis
OBR Senior Browns Reporter
Posted Sep 18, 2011


Fred Greetham's notebook from Lucas Field, where the Browns took advantage of the injury-riddled Colts.

 

INDIANAPOLIS—The players talked about it all week.

The media talked about it all week.

The Browns exemplified it in the 27-19 win over the Colts—that is, the commitment to the rushing game. In last Sunday’s loss to the Bengals, Peyton Hillis ran just 17 times for 57 yards.

Against the Colts, the Browns rushed the ball 34 times for 106 yards for a less than stellar average of 3.1 yards per carry, but the two touchdowns they scored helped the Browns even their record at 1-1.

Hillis finished with 27 carries for 94 yards, including two touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 23 yards.

“With the running game, sometimes you have ugly ones,” Pat Shurmur said. “But you keep going and going and sometimes it just takes one guy to miss and a guy like Peyton breaks it outside for a touchdown.

“It was kind of what happened to us last week with (Cedric) Benson.”

Hillis carried 12 times for 34 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He also caught three passes for 24 yards, touching the ball on 15 of the 30 plays from scrimmage.

However, Hillis fumbled as the Browns were driving on the opening drive of the third quarter as he was stripped by Antonio Johnson and  Antoine Bethea recovered at the Colts’ 44.

Hillis was upset with himself.

“What can you do?,” Hillis said. “It was totally on me. I told myself I have to make up for this.”

With 3:55 to play, Hillis redeemed himself as he broke a tackle behind Joe Thomas and rumbled in for his second touchdown from 24 yards out. The score gave the Browns a 24-12 lead. Earlier, Hillis scored from one-yard out.

“I think Peyton did everything himself,” Shawn Lauvao said. “Peyton’s a good player who hit the hole and then he was gone.”

Colt McCoy said it was just a matter of time.

“He’s going to bust one,” McCoy said. “if you run and run and run, eventually, he’s going to run over guys.”

Shurmur knows he’s got a workhorse in Hillis.

“Peyton Hillis is a heckuva runner.”

The linemen enjoy blocking for a running back like Hillis.

“Peyton’s a hard running back, who helps us wind the clock and get first downs,” Alex Mack said. “That’s key for us.”

Hillis appreciated the faith in him and coming back to him, despite the fumble.

“Today was a game that gave me a lot of confidence,” Hillis said. “We pulled out a win on the road. We don’t want to stop here.”

He said despite the lack of big plays early, the commitment to the run allowed the passing game to open up.

“It was good,” Hillis said. “It brought the safeties up like it’s supposed to do and it helped us get the win.”

Notebook

Shurmur’s First: The win over the Colts was Pat Shurmur’s first as a head coach in the NFL.

“It is exciting to win, whether it’s your first or 1,000,” Shurmur said. “It feels good.”

Where’s Mo: RB Montario Hardesty didn’t get on the field until 4:32 to play in the third quarter.

“Sometimes, you’re best laid plans go awry,” Shurmur said.

Hardesty finished with just three carries for one yard. He was in the goal line situation after DB Usama Young intercepted a pass and the Browns settled for a field goal. Hardesty fumbled the ball on one carry, but the Browns challenged and his knee was down. OL Joe Thomas recovered the ball for the Browns. 

De Ja Vu: After a big play by the defense as DB Usama Young intercepted QB Kerry Collins on third-and-13 and returned the pass to the Colts’ 21 with 14:46 to play in the game. The Browns were in a similar situation last week against the Bengals with a first down inside the five and settled for a field goal. On first down, RB Montario Hardesty fumbled on is first carry, but OL Joe Thomas recovered. On the next play, Hardesty picked up two to the two. On third down, QB Colt McCoy rolled to his right, but TE Alex Smith caught the ball out of bounds and the Browns settled for a 20-yard field goal by K Phil Dawson to make it 17-12.

After Further Review: With 33 seconds to play in the first half, RB Peyton Hillis looked as though he scored a one-yard touchdown, but replays showed his left knee touched. After a 10 second run off, Hillis took it in on the next play to give the Browns a 14-9 lead with 15 seconds to play in the first half.

“I didn’t even know my knee touched,” Hillis said. “I knew the ball was over the goal line.”

Keep Away: After the Colts pulled within eight with 24 seconds to play, they tried an onside kick and it ended up in the hands of KR Josh Cribbs, who they were trying to keep it away from him all day. Cribbs had two kick returns for 80 yards, including a 52 yard return. He also had two punt returns for 52 yards, including a 43-yard return that set up Hillis’ 24-yard score.

Colt v. Colts: QB Colt McCoy was 22-of-32 for 211 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He was sacked once and a rating of 97.3. McCoy completed passes to eight different receivers.

McCoy was happy with the way the team bounced back.

“I can’t say enough about our guys,” McCoy said. “The receivers and the guys up front did a great job.”

Shurmur likes the way McCoy handled the disappointment of last week’s loss to the Bengals.

“His demeanor was very business-like after last week’s loss,” Shurmur said. “He took the attitude of let’s get going and get this fixed. He showed great leadership.”

DQ Leads: LB D’Qwell Jackson led the Browns again with 8 tackles. He also had one pass defense.

Little Big: Rookie WR Greg Little and QB Colt McCoy hooked up four times and Little had 38 yards, including an 18-yard reception.

“We wanted to make sure to get Josh Cribbs, Mohamed (Massaquoi) and Greg Little involved in the progressions,” Shurmur said.

Moore Time: TE Even Moore’s first reception was a 16-yard touchdown on third-and-12. It was Moore’s second touchdown of the season. It was his only reception.

Three FGs: The Colts moved the ball on the Browns, but limited them to three field goals in the first half and four in the game. 

Double Trouble: CB Joe Haden was flagged twice on one play as he interfered and held WR Pierre Garcon for a 34-yard penalty on the Colts’ opening scoring drive. The pass interference call held as the Colts marched 67 yards for the field goal, with over half coming on the penalty.

Century Mike: DB Mike Adams played in his 100th NFL game.

Hicks Starts: OL Artis Hicks started at right tackle in place of the injured OL Tony Pashos. OL Oniel Cousins started at right tackle in the season opener against the Bengals. Hicks was called for holding after the Browns moved to the Colts’ five, prior to the Browns first touchdown. 

Maynard Debut: P Brad Maynard made his debut with the Browns and punted 48 yards on his first attempt. Maynard’s second punt was for 42 yards. He finished with 5 punts for an average of 40.2, including three inside the 20.

“Brad’s a professional,” Shurmur said. “He’s consistent.”

Phil Bat: Rookie DL Phil Taylor batted down a QB Kerry Collins’ pass attempt in the first quarter. Taylor made a nice stop on third-and-one as he stopped RB Delone Carter short at the nine-yard line forcing a field goal.

Sack Man: DL Ahtyba Rubin sacked QB Kerry Collins in the first quarter and rookie DL Jabaal Sheard sacked Collins in the fourth quarter, causing a fumble. Sheard and DL Jayme Mitchell switched sides in the game with Sheard at left end.

“We flip-flopped he and Jayme,” Shurmur said. 

Cribbs Starts: WR Josh Cribbs started at wide receiver opposite of WR Mohamed Massaquoi. WR Brian Robiskie was in the slot on third down. Cribbs returned a kickoff 52 yards to the Browns’ 45 to start the drive after the Colts’ second field goal.

DL Dwight Freeney sacked QB Colt McCoy on the Browns’ second offensive series, causing a fumble, but OL Joe Thomas was able to recover the ball.

Captain, Captain: OL Joe Thomas, LB D’Qwell Jackson and WR Josh Cribbs were the captains for the game.

Armond’s Debut: RB Armond Smith was active for the first time and he made the tackle on the opening kickoff at the Colts’ 12 on KR Joe Lefeged.

Inactives: For the Browns: QB Thaddeus Lewis, WR Carlton Mitchell, DB Eric Hagg, LB Titus Brown, OL Steve Vallos, OL Tony Pashos and TE Jordan Cameron. For the Colts, QB Peyton Manning, DB Kevin Thomas, RB Darren Evans, DB Chris Rucker, LB Ernie Sims, LB Gary Brackett and OL Seth Olsen.

Closed Dome: Lucas Oil Stadium has a retractable dome, but the dome was closed for the game. The Colts announced a flyover after the national anthem by a UH-H1 Huey Helicopter, but it was only seen on the big screens inside the dome.


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