CLEVELAND — Just like Kellen Winslow’s spot on the injury list, the Browns’ chances for victory against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday seemed questionable at best.
But the battered tight end, who suffered a partially dislocated shoulder in Week 3, suited up, his offense followed his lead and the Browns used one big play after another to bury their divisional rivals, 27-13, to improve to 2-2 overall and 2-1 in the AFC North.
“I told you we were going to turn some heads this year,” said Winslow, who led the team with four catches for 96 yards. “Last year, it was nothing down the seam, not a lot of big plays. This year we have made a lot of big plays. I don’t know what I’m averaging, but I’m down the middle a lot more.
“That spreads the offense, it opens up the run. It opens up everything and everybody’s getting the ball.”
It certainly seemed that way as the fans at Cleveland Browns Stadium were on their feet constantly during a first half that featured a 41-yard opening kickoff return by Josh Cribbs that set up a touchdown, a bruising
28-yard run by Jamal Lewis that looked eerily familiar with all the Ravens uniforms surrounding him and an electrifying 78-yard touchdown reception by Braylon Edwards that gave Cleveland a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter.
“It was a simple go-route,” said Edwards, who finished with three catches for 97 yards. “(Ravens cornerback) Chris McAllister is known to sit on some things. I gave him a quick inside move and he bit a little bit, so I was able to explode by him. It was something I had been studying in the offseason and I knew that play was possible.”
McAllister could offer nothing more than a simple, “He ran right past me,” but his defensive teammates knew what a backbreaker that play ended up being.
“We did a good job grinding and slowing them down, but then they hit the big one on us,” Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson said. “That is not playing sound football. It is something we have to work on.”
The offensive catalyst could have been Winslow, who not only showed up for work but was also involved in some of the biggest drives of the game.
During the opening drive, Winslow made a catch on third-and-3 and sprinted 25 yards down the right sideline to the Ravens 8-yard line. The set up Joe Jurevicius’ 2-yard touchdown catch three plays later.
Winslow also hauled in an 11-yard catch during a drive that culminated in a Lewis 1-yard touchdown run, and turned a short pass over the middle into a 49-yarder — his career long — to help set up a Phil Dawson field goal that made it 27-6 in the third quarter.
“I have got to get that one in the end zone,” Winslow said of his 49-yard catch. “I should have had two (TDs). I should have scored on the one on the sideline. I’ve got to get those in.”
The fact Winslow was lamenting not being able to finish plays instead of the surefire pain that playing with a separated shoulder must have involved, said a lot about his character.
“This sounds pretty cheesy, but Kellen’s a soldier,” Edwards said. “When he said it in college, he meant it and he’s showing it. I never had a doubt in my mind (that Winslow would play). He’s just one of those guys. To watch him come out here and play through pain … I mean, the first catch he had he landed right on it, that let’s you know what kind of guy you’re playing with.
“If you can have a guy like that show up for you and give you everything he has, why can’t you give him everything you have?”
Winslow wanted to spend his postgame interview time pouring praise on his teammates, but several times reporters interjected with questions about his injury.
“People have played through worse, a lot worse,” Winslow said. “I’m from the old school. My dad raised me and said, ‘Just put some ice on it.’
“So I’m OK, man. I’ll just have to make plays with my legs.”
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or email@example.com.