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USA Today: Confidence restored, Browns picking up on big plans for '08


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Confidence restored, Browns picking up on big plans for '08

By Tom Pedulla, USA TODAY

CLEVELAND — With the Browns' season in danger of being over before it really began, and quarterback Derek Anderson's job at risk, the Cleveland offense suddenly awakened in the 35-14 pounding of the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants Monday night.

"We are the Cleveland Browns," coach Romeo Crennel said, "and we showed we are a pretty good team."

The Browns piled up 454 yards against the previously undefeated Giants — 310 passing, 144 rushing — and never even punted. It was a startling turnaround for a 2-3 team that began the evening ranked last in points per game (11.5), yards (210.8) and passing yards (123.8).

Anderson could tell early that his teammates were ready to regain the form that allowed them to close last season with 5,621 yards and 402 points, while making a six-game leap to 10-6.

"Warmups," he said. "I could feel it. I could see it in guys' eyes. Guys were focused. The intensity was there."

With backup Brady Quinn warming up in the bullpen after being given additional practice repetitions, Anderson again looked like the passer who was deemed worthy of a new three-year contract worth $26 million during the offseason.

Despite the absence of ailing tight end Kellen Winslow, he gashed the Giants' blitz-happy defense on 18 of 29 passes for 310 yards with two touchdowns.

"He has a lot of resolve about him," Crennel said. "He prepares hard every week."

Anderson outplayed counterpart Eli Manning as the Giants' 11-game road winning streak — tied for second-longest in league history — reached a quiet end. The Super Bowl MVP finished 18 of 28 for 196 yards and a touchdown. But he was stung by three interceptions, the last of them returned 94 yards by Eric Wright to complete the scoring.

Anderson insisted he knew the offense would erupt eventually. "I never doubted it, ever," he said. "These are the same guys who made plays last season."

Receiver Braylon Edwards painted a different picture. "I think everybody's confidence was shaken the first couple of weeks, not only D.A.," he said.

Anderson spread the ball to eight different receivers. Edwards tormented cornerback Aaron Ross with five catches for a game-high 154 yards.

Edwards believes a different Cleveland team will the Washington Redskins on Sunday. "It's definitely a confidence-builder," he said. "Everybody had already crowned them back-to-back Super Bowl champs. This is a springboard for us."

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