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Crennel 'sings' a winning melody



Published: Tue, October 31, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Browns' offense moved efficiently under new coordinator Jeff Davidson.

BEREA (AP) -- Romeo Crennel couldn't be talked into doing an encore. That's probably a good thing, too.

One day after belting out a few lines from a song during his pre-game speech before the Browns faced the New York Jets, Cleveland's coach turned down a chance to repeat his performance on a more public stage.

"Oh, no," Crennel said with a laugh during his news conference. "You'll want me to sing all the time."

It's hard to envision Crennel doing his best Luther Vandross or Tony Bennett impersonation amid a crowded locker room of fired-up NFL players preparing to take the field and smash heads for 60 minutes.

Crennel's melodic choice was unknown but whatever tune he selected, it certainly got the Browns humming.

In its first game under the direction of new coordinator Jeff Davidson, Cleveland's offense moved efficiently, the club's defense made big plays and forced turnovers, and, for one of the few times since their expansion rebirth, the Browns had a controversial call in the final minute go their way.

Other than some breakdowns on special teams, the Browns (2-5) had their best game of the season.

And, despite injuries to guard Joe Andruzzi (knee), linebacker Willie McGinest (ankle) and defensive tackle Orpheus Roye (hamstring), the Browns came out of the 20-13 victory relatively healthy -- and feeling good about the rest of the season.

"It always feels better after a victory," Crennel said.

The Browns needed one badly.

Went to running game

They got their first at home this season by running the ball more than they had in their previous six games. Reuben Droughns gained a season-high 125 yards on 33 carries -- his most since coming to Cleveland.

Davidson's game plan was designed to exploit a Jets defense that entered the game yielding an average of 142 yards per game.

When Droughns picked up 11 yards on his first attempt, then 10 on his second, the Browns were off and running.

"That gave us some encouragement to keep calling it," Crennel said.

Unlike departed offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon, whom Crennel continues to insist resigned and wasn't fired last week, Davidson kept things basic with simple formations and blocking schemes.

Several Browns players complained of mass confusion under Carthon. There was none of that Sunday.

"It was a smooth operation," quarterback Charlie Frye said.

There was fluidity on the other side of the line as well.

Browns press the quarterback

Helped by the return of cornerback Leigh Bodden, who missed the two previous games with an ankle injury, Cleveland's defense was able to put pressure for four quarters on Jets quarterback Chad Pennington. He finished just 11-of-28 for 108 yards and was intercepted twice by safety Sean Jones.

After having early success in getting close to Pennington, the Browns decided to keep bringing the heat. They also adjusted after allowing New York to drive 83 yards on its first possession. The Jets gained only 110 the rest of the day.

All the good nearly went bad, though, when Jets tight end Chris Baker nearly made a one-handed, circus-like TD catch on a lob from Pennington in the final minute.

But the officials ruled that Baker, belted out of the end zone by Browns defensive back Brodney Pool, would have come down out of bounds.

The judgment call is not reviewable under the league's instant-replay system.

"I agreed with the official on that call," Crennel said smiling.




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