Winslow fires up Bucs in 17-14 win over Browns
Standing in front of his locker in the Tampa Bay locker room, former Browns tight end Kellen Winslow rattled off the names of former teammates remaining in Cleveland.
''There's Josh Cribbs, Shaun Rogers, Eric Wright, Phil Dawson, and the snapper, Ryan Pontbriand. So, there's five,'' the Tampa Bay star said Sunday.
''That's what happens when you don't win. They just bring in their own guys and go in what direction they want to head in. So, I wasn't part of that plan.''
And, so much for the notion that facing his former team for the first time wasn't a big deal for Winslow, who set the emotional tone for a 17-14 season-opening victory - running out of the tunnel during pregame introductions and waving a Tampa Bay flag in front of the Cleveland bench.
All in fun, Winslow said.
Some Browns felt the gesture was disrespectful, but not all of them.
Wright said he didn't see what Winslow did, but that it wasn't surprising.
''I played with him for two, two and a half years, or whatever. That's just him being him,'' the Cleveland cornerback said. ''It means absolutely nothing as far as when the whistle blows. We play the game in between those lines.''
Josh Freeman returned from a three-week layoff due to a broken thumb and threw for 182 yards and two touchdowns. Winslow had four receptions for 32 yards, but wasn't as big a factor as he's been in other games since being traded to Tampa Bay in February 2009.
''I have nothing against the players,'' the seventh-year pro said. ''This is our job. So, when you get traded or demoted or anything like that, it's personal. So, you want to get some revenge and you want to play as well as you can.''
Winslow spent five at times tumultuous seasons with the Browns. He had a pair of 80-catch seasons and made the Pro Bowl once in Cleveland, but couldn't shake a perception that he was a troublesome presence.
Tampa Bay went 3-13 a year ago, but Winslow led the team in receptions, yards and TDs. Last week he said the Browns were just ''another team'' and insisted the game would not be special for him.
''We didn't win very much over there. When I got traded, it felt very personal. I'm in a better situation now with a coach like Raheem Morris,'' said Winslow, who was dealt for two draft picks after Cleveland hired coach Eric Mangini.
Freeman threw a 3-yard TD pass to rookie Mike Williams late in the first half. The second-year pro kept a go-ahead drive alive with a key third-down completion, then found Micheal Spurlock in the end zone for a 33-yard score that put Tampa Bay ahead 17-14 with just under seven minutes to go.
The victory was satisfying for the Bucs, who stumbled to an 0-7 start a year ago and are trying to win back fans.
Sunday's announced attendance was 47,211 - more than 18,000 shy of capacity - and a regular-season game was blacked out locally for the first time since 1997.
Cleveland moved the ball almost at will early, but struggled after building a 14-3 lead. The Browns had three turnovers, all of them costly.
''We're better than we just did. We just played Browns vs. Browns, and the Browns lost,'' Cribbs said. ''I would love to give Tampa a lot of credit. They've got talented guys out there, but we beat ourselves. We were the better team, but not today.''
Jake Delhomme went 20 of 37 for 227 yards and two interceptions in his debut for the Browns, who have not begun a season with a win since 2004. They're 1-11 in openers since the club returned as an expansion franchise in 1999.
Cleveland seemingly was in control, moving the ball and threatening to build on its 11-point lead when an off-balance Delhomme threw an ill-advised, sidearm pass that Ronde Barber intercepted and returned 65 yards to the Browns 3.
Freeman threw his first TD pass on the next play, and the Browns weren't the same the rest of the day.
Delhomme threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Massaquoi for an early 7-0 lead, then turned to the running game to produce another score, with Jerome Harrison rumbling 39 yards to the Tampa Bay 10 before Peyton Hillis swept left end for a 10-yard TD run that put the Browns up 14-3.
Cleveland squandered it best opportunity to score in the second half when Hillis fumbled at the Tampa Bay 14 to stop a drive that began at the Cleveland 18.
''I think I'm more disappointed than anyone else,'' said Delhomme, 9-3 as a starter against Tampa Bay.
''I think you always want to make a good first impression. I think every single one of us, you want to do that. If we would have come out and won, yeah it would have been great, but the big thing is how you respond. How do you come back from it. That's the true character of a man.''