McCluster on TD catch: 'I think they just forgot about me'
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Five things we learned from the Chiefs' 23-17 win over the Browns.
DEXTER IS EVERYWHERE
We learned that Chiefs coach Andy Reid was true to his word back in training camp when he said he would explore all the ways he could use the speedy and diminutive Dexter McCluster.
On Sunday, Reid had McCluster in the slot, split wide, out of the I-formation and off-set behind quarterback Alex Smith.
McCluster was a huge part of the offense, getting targeted 10 times while coming up with a team-high seven receptions for a team-high 67 yards. He also carried once for 5 yards.
"I don't know that we had planned all of that," McCluster said. "But it's who I am. I'm someone who can be used a lot of different ways. I love it."
McCluster's biggest play came in the second quarter when the Browns had crept within 13-7. McCluster hauled in an over-the-shoulder 28-yard touchdown reception from Smith, the Chiefs' final and decisive touchdown.
McCluster wasn't sure what happened to the defense on the play -- he was relatively wide open as he reached the goal line.
"I think they just forgot about me," McCluster said, smiling.
At least Andy Reid hasn't. ZOMBO TO THE RESCUE
Perhaps the biggest play of the game came with slightly more than seven minutes left and the Chiefs clinging to a 20-17 lead.
After a three and out, Dustin Colquitt had to punt from the Chiefs' 10, virtually guaranteeing the Browns good field position as the crowd of 74,307 anxiously looked on.
But Browns return man Davone Bess, in for the injured Travis Benjamin, caught the ball and then inexplicably spit the ball out without being hit or touched.
The typical wild scramble ensued, and Chiefs backup linebacker Frank Zombo -- another one of general manager John Dorsey's pickups from Green Bay -- buried himself in the pile and somehow came away with the ball at the Kansas City 47.
"It's all those triceps and biceps exercises I do on Fridays," Zombo told us, straight-faced. "Seriously, that's all picking up fumbles in a pile is -- it's like a biceps pull."
Zombo, of course, understands that he happened to be in the right place at the right time, too.
"That's really what a lot of football is," he said. "You work hard, you prepare and then all of a sudden, something good happens." That recovery flipped the field, and though the Browns got the ball back twice more, they never got near Chiefs territory again. BIG JOE CAN PLAY
It may not be the sexiest thing in football to watch, but you have to admire a left tackle such as Joe Thomas of the Browns. Thomas, the third overall pick of the 2007 draft, completely dominated whomever the Chiefs lined up over him Sunday, and that was the main reason why the Chiefs barely touched quarterback Jason Campbell all day.
The Chiefs had just one sack -- Justin Houston's with 10:23 to go -- and with Thomas able to tie up Tamba Hali all day by himself, the Browns were able to double Houston on the other side. Hali, though, denied he got dominated. "My day was not quiet," Hali said. "As far as sacks go, I didn't get to the quarterback. Joe is a good player -- you could say a great player -- it's tough to beat him one-on-one. At times, I felt like I won some of the battles, and the ball had to come out fast." WHERE DID THE OFFENSE GO?
The Chiefs seemed to be cruising as well as they were all season when they racked up 20 points and 281 yards of offense in the first half. Then someone let the air out -- the Chiefs managed just four first downs, 50 yards of offense and three points after that.
"Hey, that's a good defense," McCluster said of the Browns. "They made some adjustments at halftime."
Reid, as he always does, took the blame.
"I probably got stale on them," he said. "I didn't dial them up as well as I did in the first half. That's two weeks in a row we've come out slow in the second half and I have to do a better job of getting the guys in better position."
We keep saying and thinking that one of these weeks the Chiefs' stagnant offense will wind up beating them -- but hey, that hasn't happened, obviously, not with the Chiefs' suffocating defense. SHERMAN TANK
In his third season in the NFL, Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman finally got his first NFL touchdown, grabbing a 12-yard swing pass from Smith in the second quarter and sneaking into the corner of the end zone. Even rarer was that Sherman actually was the No. 1 read on the play.
"That was the natural progression of the play," he said. "I was the No. 1 read and a lot of times I'm covered and they go elsewhere. But this time I was open.
"It was pretty awesome to get a touchdown but even better to get a win." You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter @jflanagankc or email him at email@example.com.