CLEVELAND — Derek Anderson got the start and left to boos. Charlie Frye entered to a loud ovation, but walked off to boos. Ken Dorsey was greeted with boos.
Brady Quinn took his first snap as a Brown on Saturday night to a standing ovation. That was before he led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives and entered the quarterback derby.
The first-round pick from Notre Dame could do no wrong.
“It was nice to be back on the field again, but the end result was we lost,” Quinn said. “You’re never happy when you lose.”
A 23-20 loss to the Detroit Lions couldn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm. A number of fans wore No. 10 jerseys and many stayed through a dreadful first half just to catch a glimpse of Quinn in the fourth quarter.
The “Brady, Brady” chant that began with 2:23 in the third quarter never stopped completely, nor did the dozens of flashbulbs recording Browns history.
Quinn entered with the fourth-team offense with 9:20 left. He completed his first five passes and capped the seven-play, 63-yard drive with a
4-yard touchdown pass to Efrem Hill. Quinn scrambled to his right, pulled up and spotted Hill in the end zone on the right sideline.
The 2-point conversion failed on a low throw to running back Chris Barclay, but the cheers kept coming and Quinn was congratulated on the sideline by Anderson, Frye and Dorsey.
Quinn was one of the few bright spots in a dismal performance. The Lions led 16-0 at halftime and 23-0 in the third quarter.
No one was worse than Frye and Anderson. They played to a stalemate, and coach Romeo Crennel said he’s still undecided on an opening-day starter. Crennel wouldn’t rule out Quinn joining the competition.
“I don’t think I can say that without looking at tape,” he said. “Then we’ll decide.
“I still think he’s a young quarterback playing with a limited offense. I believe in time he’s going to be a good quarterback. But the reason he didn’t play more tonight was that he wasn’t ready.”
Dorsey — booed because the fans wanted Quinn — snapped the Browns’ seven-quarter touchdown drought, and Quinn followed with two touchdowns in two drives. He went 13-for-20 for 155 yards and a 121.9 rating. Four of the incompletions were spikes to stop the clock, and most of the completions were dump-offs to running backs against Detroit’s prevent defense. He also made a good throw on a deep in route knowing he was about to take a hit.
“He did a great job,” said right tackle Kelly Butler, who gave Quinn a high-five after a 30-yard screen to start his career. “He was poised and very confident.”
On the sideline he looked like a kid waiting for the bus on the first day of school, as he could barely contain himself during Dorsey’s one series. When he wasn’t fidgeting — jumping up and down, pacing, adjusting his uniform — Quinn was throwing to an equipment manager.
“I’ve been holding a clipboard now for about a game and three quarters, you kind of get excited when you know you’re going to go in,” he said. “It was tough for me to wait it out.”
The first three quarters of the game were tough to watch.
Anderson had two turnovers in his first two possessions. He returned for a possession in the third quarter, but Phil Dawson missed a 36-yard field goal wide left.
On the first play of the game, left defensive end Jared DeVries, starting in place of Dewayne White, blew by right tackle Kevin Shaffer and knocked the ball from Anderson’s hand. Cory Redding recovered for Detroit.
Anderson’s second possession started well, but ended just as badly.
The Browns marched to first-and-goal at the 1, then self-destructed. A delay penalty was followed by a timeout when Kellen Winslow was a late substitute. A 4-yard run by Jamal Lewis took the ball to the 2, but right guard Seth McKinney was called for a false start.
Anderson capped the debacle by throwing an interception to linebacker Ernie Sims near the goal line when tight end Steve Heiden fell down.
“I have to manage turnovers,” said Anderson, who went 6-for-8 for 65 yards and a 58.9 rating. “When we get into the red zone, we have to punch the ball in.”
Frye played three series and they ended in a punt, a failed quarterback sneak on fourth-and-2 and an overthrown interception deep down the seam toward Heiden. He finished 5-for-10 for 42 yards and a 21.7 rating.
Frye’s best drive ended when he tried to catch the Lions off guard with a sneak on fourth down from the Detroit 35-yard line. The Browns had a timeout left and Frye looked at the sideline for a few seconds waiting for instructions. Frye was stopped short, and the Lions declined an illegal formation penalty.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7136 or email@example.com.