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Secondary raises level of play

Posted Sep 23, 2013

The Cleveland Browns’ secondary raised its level of play to new heights in the team’s 31-27 win over the Minnesota Vikings Sunday.

Hard work pays off.

That was a message delivered by the Cleveland Browns’ secondary on the heels of Sunday’s 31-27 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field at the HHH Metrodome.

While the defensive backs helped limit running back Adrian Peterson to 88 yards on 25 carries, Buster Skrine, Joe Haden, T.J. Ward, Tashaun Gipson and Chris Owens combined to break up four passes, register 26 tackles and prevent quarterback Christian Ponder from throwing a touchdown.

“We knew they were going to run the ball, and eventually, our front seven was going to stop them, so they were going to have to throw the ball,” cornerback Joe Haden said. “Buster, C.O., T.J. and Gip, we were ready for the pass the whole game. We just stayed locked in and made sure we kept fighting.”

Skrine had four solo tackles, and led the way with a game-high two pass break-ups, both of which came in the red zone and prevented Minnesota touchdowns.

“I got my hands on a lot of balls,” Skrine said. “I just felt like it was better overall play. Every play in the red zone is valuable. When they get in the red zone, we try to hold them to a field goal. It’s really important because in this league, it’s hard to score points.”

Skrine was one of the most penalized defensive backs during the 2012 regular season, but worked on his craft during the offseason, and has been able to make more plays for the secondary.

“Buster’s always a high-effort guy, running around and making plays,” said defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin. “You can tell he loves the game of football and I can see he’s getting better and better, and all I want Buster to do is keep hustling and making plays.”

As a whole, the Browns’ secondary has been able to stay together since Week Three of the preseason. During that time, they have been able to develop a rhythm and find a way to make plays.

“They’re doing a great job,” defensive lineman Desmond Bryant said. “They’ve been doing a pretty good job all season. They’re getting better and better, just like the rest of our team. We’ll continue to build on that going forward.”

Coach Rob Chudzinski added, “Those guys have improved. Buster played his best game. I think our secondary’s playing really well. Gipson is playing well. T.J. Ward had his best game, made some big plays and some open-field tackles. Joe Haden’s been outstanding all along.”