CLEVELAND — The Browns played their first regular-season game on Sept. 9, but Jerome Harrison’s season didn’t really begin until Sunday.
The second-year running back took his first offensive snaps of the season and responded with a career-high 57 rushing yards in Cleveland’s 41-31 win over the Miami Dolphins.
“It felt good to go back and do what I love to do most: playing football and having fun,’’ the 2006 fifth-round draft choice said. “The guys just tell me to keep working hard, and when your opportunity comes, make the best of it.”
Harrison and Jason Wright both got extensive playing time against the Dolphins with leading rusher Jamal Lewis out with a right foot injury.
While Wright put in a workmanlike performance with 59 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, Harrison shined by averaging 7.1 yards on eight rushes and made one 15-yard reception.
They were the first statistics he has recorded this season and the first offensive plays he took part in since Dec. 31, 2006 at Houston.
“All I can do is try to put myself in the best position I can,’’ said Harrison, who played special teams in the Browns’ opener against Pittsburgh, but was inactive the next four games. “If they need me, I will make the best of it.”
Many of Harrison’s teammates said they were happy to see the 5-foot-9, 210-pounder get a chance to carry the ball on a day when they needed every possible point to win.
Among them was fill-in starter Wright, who welcomed Harrison’s help, even though it meant fewer snaps for him.
“When I needed a blow, Jerome was there for me, and when he needed one, I was there for him,’’ Wright said. “Everything worked out the way you hoped it would coming in, and we both helped the team get the win.’’
Quarterback Derek Anderson, who was 18-of-25 for 245 yards and three touchdowns, posted the 11th-best passer rating in team history at 142.5. It was the top mark by a Cleveland quarterback in 19 years.
Plus, Anderson did not throw an interception for the first time in his eight NFL starts.
“With the skilled group that Cleveland has, they have some big targets and (he) did a nice job with some matchups,’’ Miami coach Cam Cameron said.
• Braylon Edwards’ three TD receptions equaled the Browns record previously set nine times.
“I’m very glad he got those catches,’’ Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel said. “It’s another step in the right direction in his development.’’
• Rookie Eric Wright made his first pro interception by picking off Cleo Lemon in the end zone, while Leigh Bodden equaled his career high with his third theft of the year.
• Ryan Tucker spelled Kevin Shaffer at right tackle and recovered a downfield fumble by tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. in the third quarter.
• Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson had X-rays taken on one of his feet after the game, but said he was doing fine.
Miami running back Ronnie Brown rushed for 101 yards and had a game-high nine receptions for 69 more. Brown became the sixth player to run for 100 yards against Cleveland in six games this fall.
• Kicker Jay Feely drew a flag on the opening kickoff for a late hit on Joshua Cribbs on the Browns’ sideline. Feely made a 43-yard field goal, extending his career-best streak to 24 in a row.
• Middle linebacker Zach Thomas led all players with 12 tackles, while former Cleveland cornerback Michael Lehan had five.
• Lemon threw for 142 of his 256 yards in the second half. He finished 24-for-43 with two scores, two picks and a 69.5 rating. “We got into a groove, got some things done, and moved the ball,’’ Lemon said after his second NFL start. “But we came here to win a football game and, obviously, we didn’t do that.’’
Miami mouth shuts
Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter lost his grudge match with Winslow, which he readily acknowledged.
“He played well, I’m not going to take that away from him,’’ the ex-Steelers standout said. “I have to give credit where credit is due. He made some plays and they came out with the victory, which is the big factor.’’
Winslow made five catches for a game-high 90 yards, including a 33-yard strike between the hash marks that saw him shoot past Porter.
“He beat me on a vertical,’’ said Porter, who made four tackles. “There’s nothing I can say to sugarcoat that.’’
Winslow showed restraint when told of those comments, saying, “I’m not into one-on-one battles. It’s the whole team concept. When the ball is thrown my way, it’s my job to make plays. I was able to do that because of how well our whole offense played.’’
Dolphins rookie Ted Ginn Jr. amassed 164 all-purpose yards in his homecoming to the North Coast. That figure could have been even higher, but the Glenville High and Ohio State product had a 96-yard kickoff return for a TD called back on a holding penalty.
“The kickoff return could’ve possibly won the game,’’ he said. “I really don’t know (about the call), but I’m not that upset about it. It was a good return and I’m happy with it.’’
Ginn averaged 24.4 yards on five kick returns, made a 32-yard reception and had one punt return for 10 yards.
• Bedford graduate Chris Chambers made his 400th career reception — all coming with Miami — as part of a six-catch day.
• Former University of Akron star Jason Taylor had the Dolphins’ lone sack and recovered a fourth-quarter fumble by Jason Wright.
Out of action
Tight end Darnell Dinkins (right hand), safety Gary Baxter (knees), offensive linemen Nat Dorsey and Isaac Sowells, wide receiver Travis Wilson, defensive tackle Louis Leonard and Lewis were inactive for the Browns. Ken Dorsey was their third quarterback.
• Not in uniform for the Dolphins were quarterback Trent Green (concussion), running back Lorenzo Booker, wide receiver Greg Camarillo, defensive linemen Vonnie Holliday, Rob Ninkovich and Sam Rayburn, linebacker Abraham Wright and safety Travares Tillman. Safety Donovin Darius left in the first quarter with flu-like symptoms.
The Browns are 2-0 against the Dolphins at Cleveland Browns Stadium, but trail the all-time series 9-6.
• Kevin Mack, Don Cockroft, Bill Glass and Horace Gillom were formally inducted into the Browns Legends, bringing membership in the club to 38.