When Jamal Lewis was forced into a premature retirement last Wednesday with post-concussion syndrome, it wasn’t hard to project that Jerome Harrison would step up.
After all, he was the most experienced Browns runner behind Lewis.
Harrison did pick up the slack in Sunday’s 30-23 loss to the San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Turning in one of his best games in his four seasons as a Brown, he caught a team-high seven passes for 62 yards and two eight-yard touchdowns, and rushed 10 times for 35 yards.
But no one thought tight end Evan Moore would contribute in the game. For that matter, no one knew who he was, or that he was even on the team.
Everyone knows who he is now, however. He introduced himself in a big way.
Moore, who had never played in a regular-season NFL game after spending all of his rookie season of 2008 with the Green Bay Packers on the Injured Reserve List, was signed from the practice squad on Saturday and made the most of his big chance, finishing second on the team in receptions with six, good for 80 yards.
“It felt good,” said Moore, who was originally signed by New Orleans as an undrafted free agent in May 2008. “I was happy to get the opportunity this week. It was something I had prepared for, for a long time. You don’t really know when that first opportunity is going to come.
“I felt like they put a good game plan in and gave me a chance to make some plays. I knew that if we called these plays and I was out there running them, that I could take advantage of it. I am not surprised, but I am happy.
“There’s a lot of work to do, though. I made my share of mistakes, but we’ll correct them.”
A native of Brea, Cal. and a four-year letterman at Stanford, the 24-year-old Moore appeared in 38 contests and finished with 103 receptions for 1,555 yards and 12 TDs.
“In the most humble way possible, I am confident in my abilities,” Moore said.
So are a lot of other people -- now that they know who he is.
INJURY REPORT: Already banged up to the hilt on defense, the Browns lost another player when end C.J. Mosley was helped off in the first half with an injured right ankle and did not return.
OUCH: Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has made a lot of defenses look bad since he came into the NFL as a rookie free agent in 2003. But you have to wonder if the former Kent State basketball star has made any team look as bad as he did the Browns on Sunday. Gates did his best Ozzie Newsome imitation, catching eight passes for a career-high 167 yards, almost single-handed destroying the Browns. “We find a way to get the ball to Gates against everybody,” Chargers head coach Norv Turner said. But not as much as they did against the Browns.
OUCH II: With his four-yard run late in the third quarter, the Chargers’ LaDainian Tomlinson scored the 150th touchdown of his career. He became the quickest player in NFL history to do it, as this was his 137th game. Emmitt Smith, the man who had held the record, didn’t get TD No. 150 until his 160th game. In addition, Tomlinson, with a game-high 64 yards in 20 carries, passed both Marshall Faulk (12,279 yards) and Browns Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown (12,312) to move into eighth place on the all-time NFL rushing list with 12,321. Brown, in his role as executive advisor with his former team, was at the game. “L.T. is pretty amazing,” Turner said. “He’s getting up in some special numbers. To pass Jim Brown, who many think is the greatest of all-time, and to do it in this stadium, is pretty special. It says everything in a nutshell.”
OUCH III: A fan wore a Kellen Winslow No. 80 jersey with the former Browns tight end’s last name on the back. The fans removed the “WIN” part of the name so that it just read “SLOW.” Now, was he taking a swipe at Winslow or at rookie wide receiver Brian Robiskie, who now wears that number? We’ll never know, but we hope it wasn’t at Robiskie. The Chargin Falls (Ohio) High School and Ohio State product dressed for the first time in three weeks and did some good things. The first of the Browns’ three second-round draft picks, he came into the game with just one catch for 23 yards but was fourth on the club on Sunday with four catches for 69 yards . Fellow second-round pick David Veikune, a linebacker, and cornerback Coye Francies, a sixth-rounder, also dressed after joining Robiskie on the inactive list the last two weeks.
GUESSING GAME: For whatever reason, the Browns announce only the number of tickets distributed for their home games, and in that respect, the “crowd” was 67,978, the smallest for the expansion era. The best guess is that about 48,000 were actually at the contest.
FAMILIAR FACES: Attending the game as guests of the Browns were two pretty good cornerbacks from yesteryear in Erich Barnes, who finished up his 14-year career by playing for the team for seven seasons, from 1965-71, after being acquired in a trade from the then arch rival New York Giants, and Ben Davis, a 17th-round draft pick in 1967 from tiny Defiance (Ohio) College. Davis had eight interceptions in 1968, tied for sixth-most in Browns history, while Barnes was easily the hardest-hitting corner the club has ever had.
SWEET 15: The Chargers have now won 15 straight games in December dating back to 2005, when they were 2-3 during the month, including losing the last two on Dec. 24 and 31.
UP NEXT: It’s a quick turnaround for the Browns, as they will host Pittsburgh on Thursday night on national TV. The defending Super Bowl champion Steelers (6-6) will be staggering into town, their playoff hopes starting to fade, after getting stunned at home by the Oakland Raiders 27-24 on Sunday.