Giants rally, keep Browns winless, 41-27
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)
The difference between winners and losers in the NFL sometimes comes down to dealing with tough times.
Bradshaw fumbled away his first carry of the game, then was unstoppable in rushing for 200 yards and a touchdown in a 41-27 victory for the Super Bowl champions. Victor Cruz set a career best with three TD catches from Eli Manning.
The Browns fell to 0-5 with their 11th consecutive loss because they compounded one mistake with another, and then a few more.
''I stayed hard on myself after the fumble,'' Bradshaw said. ''I wanted to use it with the ball in my hand and I just ran angry today.
''I was disappointed with the fumble, but you put it out of your mind. I knew I was cool. We knew the running game was there, we were confident.''
The Browns were self-destructive, which helps explain their record. As does their youth; Cleveland is the league's youngest team, and many of the errors Sunday were made by NFL newcomers.
But they don't want to hear about rookie mistakes.
''Not any more. Personally those are long gone,'' quarterback Brandon Weeden said. ''I've played five games now. It's a tough league with really good players. Sometimes you do exactly what you want to do and it doesn't go the way you wanted. It is frustrating.
''I've never been on a losing team. I want to win so bad. Losing hurts. I've got to find a way. I can't put the team in tough situations.''
He sure did against the Giants (3-2) as Cleveland matched the franchise record for consecutive defeats.
Weeden was sharp for much of the first half, but made a terrible decision on third-and-1 from the Giants 25. With third overall draft pick running back Trent Richardson not on the field, Weeden rolled out and forced a pass to fellow rookie Josh Gordon that sailed high, directly to Stevie Brown. The backup safety sped down the left sideline for 46 yards.
''I was trying to make a play. It was stupid,'' Weeden said. ''I should have airmailed it and let Phil (Dawson) kick a field goal. That was the one throw I want back.''
On the next play, Manning found Rueben Randle - yet another rookie - wide open on the left side for 36 more yards. Then Bradshaw highlighted his big opening half with his TD run to tie it at 17.
Veteran Joshua Cribbs made the next mistake for Cleveland, fumbling the ensuing kickoff. Brown was on the spot again for the recovery, and Cruz caught his second touchdown pass for New York's first lead.
The Browns weren't finished handing away points. A pair of penalties led to a punt, and a 24-yard pass interference against Buster Skrine gave Lawrence Tynes a chance to kick a 40-yard field goal as the half ended.
Cleveland had little chance to coming back for its first win because it couldn't handle Bradshaw or Cruz.
''We showed how resilient we are,'' said Cruz, who entered the game leading the NFL with 32 receptions and added five for 50 yards. ''We started off rough, getting behind the 8-ball a bit, but we were able to keep our wits about us. We understand we'll be able to make some plays offensively.''
Bradshaw's TD was on a 4-yard run. He darted inside and outside and frequently broke feeble tackle attempts to easily beat the 132 yards he rushed for heading into the game.
Bradshaw and Cruz became the first tandem to rush for 200 yards and catch three TD passes in a game since 1960, when the Cardinals' John David Crow ran for 203 yards and Sonny Randle had three touchdowns receiving.
The Giants are 9-0 in games he has rushed for 100 yards or more. They rushed for 243 yards.
''I love this game more than anybody,'' Bradshaw said. ''I put all my heart into it and I just feel I'm one of the toughest out there on the field.''
New York also forced three turnovers, including Chase Blackburn's interception in the end zone midway in the fourth quarter to clinch it. That led to rookie David Wilson's first NFL touchdown, a 40-yard scamper, which Wilson celebrated with a flip in the end zone.
Weeden, Cleveland's other first-round pick, hit Gordon, on two touchdown passes. But the Browns wound up with 10 penalties for 91 yards.
''We started out fast and got an early lead,'' coach Pat Shurmur said. ''We had a three-minute stretch before the end of the first half that was, `Wow, you can't do that against a good football team.' `'
Giants coach Tom Coughlin tied Bill Parcells for regular-season coaching victories with the franchise, 77.
Cruz, Randle and Dominek Hixon stepped up nicely with Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden sidelined Sunday.
''Whoever us ready to play is going to play and we showed ourselves well today,'' Cruz said.
Before their collapse, the Browns looked sharp as the Giants made the gaffes that led to points.
Bradshaw fumbled when the ball hit guard Chris Snee's shoulder gave the Browns a quick break at the New York 22 and Richardson took care of the yardage with runs of 7 and 15.
Wideout Gordon then beat double coverage, although with no cornerback in sight, for a 62-yard score and a 14-0 edge that didn't last long.
NOTES: Cleveland lost MLB D'Qwell Jackson, one of its defensive leaders, to a concussion. CB Dimitri Patterson hurt an ankle and DT Ahtyba Rubin to a lower leg injury. Giants backup RB Andre Brown left with a head injury and DE Osi Umenyiora left immediately after the game to be with his son, who was hospitalized by an asthma attack. ... Richardson finished with 81 yards rushing and 47 receiving. ... Weeden went 22 of 35 for 291 yards, while Manning was 25 of 37 for 259. Manning has won eight straight against AFC teams ... Coughlin trails only Steve Owen, who coached the Giants to 153 wins in 23 seasons. This is Coughlin's ninth with New York.
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