BEREA - The defense is improving.
Granted, when you’re dead last, any improvement is important.
You could call them baby steps.
The Browns went into the Bills’ game 32nd in the NFL in defense. Despite shutting out the Bills, they still rank 32nd in defense. They are 28th in rushing defense and 29th in passing defense. They moved up from 30th in passing defense.
Romeo Crennel gives the defense a lot of credit, despite playing in bad weather.
“To come out with a shut out is huge,” Crennel said. “Every body has fire power and to be able to put a goose egg on the board is good.”
The Browns held the Bills to 232 yards, with 60 yards coming on the final drive.
“We did what we had to do to win the game,” Crennel said. “Hats off to (the players) because they were the ones who had to play the game in those elements.”
Crennel said that linebacker Andra Davis had his most productive game of the season. He tied Leigh Bodden and Shaun Smith for the most tackles with six. Davis also had two quarterback hurries. Four of Davis’ tackles were for losses.
“Andra Davis had a very productive game,” Crennel said. “He helped us three or four times in making tackles in the backfield.
“It’s been his most productive game of the season.”
Davis was barreling down on quarterback Trent Edwards on a pass attempt in the first quarter. He dropped Marshawn Lynch for a four-yard loss on the Bills’ second series.
Davis had back-to-back tackles for losses on the series prior to Phil Dawson’s 49-yard field goal. He dropped Lynch for a one-yard loss and Josh Reed for a six-yard loss on the next play. Davis dropped Lynch again in the fourth quarter for a two-yard loss.
Crennel said the Browns didn’t call anything special for Davis.
“He was playing the defense that was called,” Crennel said. “Andra has been a solid guy for us. He’s been a team guy. He’s been enthusiastic.”
Davis has 94 tackles on the season, including eight tackles for loss. He trails D’Qwell Jackson by one tackle for the team lead.
“He’s just glad that we’re winning,” Crennel said. “He’s been around for a while.”
Playoff Scenario: The Browns control their own destiny concerning the playoffs. Right now, they are one game ahead of the Titans for the sixth and final playoff spot. If the Browns win Sunday at Cincinnati, they can clinch at least a Wild Card berth by virtue of having a better AFC Conference record than the Titans even if they lose to the 49ers in the season finale. However, a loss to the Bengals and two wins by the Titans would give them the edge over the Browns due to better AFC Conference records, if both teams end up 10-6. The Browns and Steelers are tied at 9-5, but the Browns must finish at least a half game ahead of the Steelers due to the tie breaker for head-to-head going to the Steelers. Pittsburgh plays two games on the road with the Rams on Thursday and then they finish the regular season at Baltimore. If the season ended today, the Browns would travel to Pittsburgh for the first round of the playoffs.
Crennel said the mission remains the same.
“That’s the situation we’ve been in for a couple of weeks,” Crennel said. “If we win the rest of the games, we’ll get where we want to be. It hasn’t changed. it’s just a little closer.”
In a tongue-in-cheek answer to what a 9-5 record means, Crennel stated the obvious.
“Being 9-5, guarantees that we will probably win more games than we lose this year,” he said. “We have a big division game on the road and we want to talk to the guys about not being satisfied where we’re at.
“The season is not over and as soon as you start thinking it is, you will lose,” he said. “The team understands the position that we are in and there is more focus.”
Thanks to the Fans: Crennel thanked the fans for supporting the team in their sixth-straight win at home.
“There was a great turnout,” Crennel said. “They didn’t stay home and they stayed for the whole game.”
Injury Update: The Browns came out of the game with the Bills with no apparent injuries.
“No major injuries, so we should be good this week,” Crennel said. “
LB Antwan Peek didn’t play, but he was the only player Crennel mentioned and said he will be evaluated to see if he might be able to play this week.
Game Balls: Crennel said game balls were given to K Phil Dawson on special teams, RB Jamal Lewis and TE Steve Heiden and the whole offensive line. He awarded the whole defense for the shut out.
Special Play: Crennel mentioned the play of the specialists for their play Sunday. K Phil Dawson kicked two field goals in adverse conditions and had good snaps from snapper Ryan Pontbriand and holder Dave Zastudil.
“Any time you talk about field position, you talk about special teams,” Crennel said. “Overall, with conditions the way they were I thought our guys did a good job. For Phil, to just put points on the board, was huge.
“Ryan Pontbriand and Dave Zastudil did a good job with the snaps and being the holder,” he said. “Zastudil also punted well and did a really good job. They all helped us operate and win the game.”
Pro Bowl Announcement: The NFL will announce the Pro Bowl players on Tuesday. KR Joshua Cribbs and OL Eric Steinbach are believed to have the best chance of making it for the Browns.