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What to Watch For, Presented by Arby's

Posted Nov 14, 2012

Joe Haden and the Browns return to the road for the first time in a month to face quarterback Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys.

The Cleveland Browns return from their annual bye week break with a trip deep into the heart of the Lone Star State for Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The Browns are 15-11-0 all-time against the Cowboys dating back to the first meeting between the teams, a 48-7 Cleveland road win on Oct. 16, 1960. The Browns are 6-7-0 all-time in road games against the Cowboys.

Cleveland is 1-4-0 in its last five road games against Dallas and last earned a victory over the Cowboys on Dec. 10, 1994, when it posted a 19-14 win at Texas Stadium in Irving.

The Browns last met the Cowboys in the 2008 regular-season opener on Sept. 7. Dallas earned a 28-10 victory over the Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

In the victory, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo completed 24 of 32 attempts for 320 yards and one touchdown against one interception. He connected with tight end Jason Witten six times for a game-high 96 yards, while wide receivers Patrick Crayton and Terrell Owens finished the game with 82 and 87 yards receiving, respectively.

The Browns converted three-of-nine third-down attempts and gained only 205 yards of total offense in the setback.

As the game unfolds, here are several things to keep an eye on:

Running back Trent Richardson. In nine games this season, Richardson has rushed for 575 yards and five touchdowns. He also leads the team with 31 receptions for 240 yards. He is tied for first in the league -- with Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III -- for the second-most points scored (36) by a rookie in the NFL.

Richardson’s 815 yards of total offense rank third behind Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin (1,158) and Washington’s Alfred Morris (828), while his 575 yards rushing are third in the league among first-year players. He is second in the NFL in receptions by a rookie and third with 31 first downs.

With his 105 yards rushing on 25 carries against the Baltimore Ravens two weeks ago, Richardson joined Earnest Byner (1984) and Bobby Mitchell (1958) as the only first-year Browns to rush for 100 or more yards in back-to-back games. Also, it gave him three 100-yard games this season, which tied him with William Green and Kevin Mack for the most single-season 100-yard rushing games by a Browns rookie.

With 100 yards rushing against the Cowboys, Richardson would be the first Browns rookie ever to rush for 100 or more yards in three straight games. He would also be the first Browns rookie to rush for 100 or more yards in four games during a single season.

Quarterback Brandon Weeden. Weeden completed 20 of 37 attempts for 175 yards in a loss to the Ravens two weeks ago.

On the season, Weeden has completed 185 of 336 attempts for 2,088 yards with nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Weeden has thrown for 300 or more yards twice in nine games and has three of the top four single-game passing yardage totals ever by a Browns rookie.

Weeden also has thrown the second and fifth-longest touchdowns by a Browns rookie quarterback. He has completed 71-yard and 62-yard touchdown passes to wide receiver Josh Gordon. Weeden ranks second among NFL rookies in passing yards, passing first downs, and completions of 20 or more yards (29).

With a 300-yard game against the Cowboys, Weeden would join Derek Anderson, Bernie Kosar, Brian Sipe and Pro Football Hall of Famer, the late Otto Graham, as the only quarterbacks in team history to throw for 300 or more yards at least three times in a single season. Anderson (three in 2007) and Graham (three in 1950) each accomplished the feat once, while Kosar (three each in 1986 and 1987) reached the mark twice. Sipe tossed four 300-yard games in 1979, and again in 1983, and six in 1980.

With 360 yards passing Sunday, Weeden would pass Tim Couch for the most single-season passing yards by a Browns rookie. Couch threw for 2,447 yards during the 1999 season.

Wide receiver Josh Gordon. Gordon leads the Browns with 417 yards and four touchdown catches on his 19 receptions this season.

Gordon is tied for the lead among all NFL rookies with the four touchdown catches and ranks first with the 417 yards receiving. Gordon is tied with T.Y. Hilton of Indianapolis for the most receptions of at least 20 yards (seven) among all first-year NFL players. His 21.9 yards per reception average is first among all NFL players with at least 14 catches.

With a touchdown Sunday, Gordon would be the first Browns rookie to have five or more receiving touchdowns in a season since Andre’ Davis caught six in 2002.

Kicker Phil Dawson. The 14-year veteran is 17-of-17 on field goal attempts this season after going five for five against the Ravens two weeks ago. He is nine-of-nine from 40 or more yards, including a four for four mark from 50-plus. Since the start of the 2011 season, Dawson has made a league-best 11-of-12 field goals from 50 or more yards. His 23 straight field goals made is the longest active streak in the NFL and the second-longest of Dawson’s career.

Dawson has converted 293 of 349 career field goal attempts with the Browns and ranks second in team history with 1,222 points. His 84.0 field goal percentage is first all-time in team history and the eighth-best total among those NFL kickers with at least 100 career field goals made.

Wide receiver Joshua Cribbs. The two-time Pro Bowler has 9,638 kickoff return yards, which stands sixth on the NFL’s all-time list. He is 149 yards away from passing Glyn Milburn (9,788) for fifth on the all-time list.

Cribbs’ 11,624 combined kickoff and punt return yards rank sixth on the NFL’s career list.

He has returned an NFL record eight kickoffs for touchdowns and added three more scores on punt returns. The combined 11 touchdowns are fifth all-time and with one more, Cribbs would equal Hall and Metcalf for third place. Cribbs is also 164 yards away from passing Dennis Northcutt’s mark for the most punt return yards (2,149) in franchise history.

Cribbs currently ranks third in the NFL in kickoff return average and fourth in punt return average. He has averaged 12.6 yards over 23 punt returns and 29.7 yards on 27 kickoffs. Since the start of the 2011 season, Cribbs has nine returns of at least 40 yards. Each of those returns led to Browns scores -- five touchdowns and four field goals.

With his 74 kickoff return yards against the Ravens two weeks ago, Cribbs passed Washington’s Brian Mitchell (9,517) and became the NFL’s all-time leader for kickoff return yards with one team. Cribbs also became only the second player in NFL history to have at least 800 kickoff return yards in eight straight seasons. Mitchell registered 10 straight seasons with 800 or more kickoff return yards.

Browns offensive linemen Joe Thomas and Alex Mack. Thomas has started each of the 89 games he has played since the Browns selected him in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft and currently ranks sixth for most consecutive starts among active offensive linemen in the NFL. Mack has started 57 straight games for the Browns.

Defensive back Sheldon Brown. The 11-year NFL veteran has played in 169 consecutive regular-season games, a mark that ranks fifth among all active defensive players. He has caught at least one interception in each of his 11 NFL seasons.

Brown has 24 career interceptions and is tied for the fourth-longest active streak of consecutive seasons with an interception. Green Bay’s Charles Woodson has had an interception in 15 straight seasons, while Denver’s Champ Bailey (14) and Cincinnati’s Nate Clements (12) rank ahead of Brown and Baltimore’s Ed Reed (11).

Brown’s 139 pass breakups since 2002 rank fourth behind Bailey, Tampa Bay’s Ronde Barber and Atlanta’s Asante Samuel.

In 16 career games against the Cowboys, Brown has registered 51 total tackles, four interceptions, two forced fumbles, one sack and one recovered fumble, which he returned 80 yards for a touchdown as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas on Oct. 9, 2005.

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Romo has completed 230 of 344 attempts for 2,603 yards and 12 touchdowns, but has been intercepted 13 times this season. He is averaging an interception 3.8 percent of the time he throws a pass and has been sacked 17 times for 106 lost yards.

Tight end Jason Witten. Through nine games this year, Witten has been on the receiving end of 66 passes for 585 yards and one touchdown. He leads the team with the 66 catches, is third in yardage and tied for third in touchdowns.

Wide receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. Austin leads the team with 669 yards receiving and four touchdowns. He averages 15.6 yards per reception, which also leads the Cowboys. Bryant has 45 catches, the second-most on the team, for 590 yards and three touchdowns.

The Browns come into Sunday’s game at 2-7 after their bye week, which followed a 25-15 loss to the Ravens at Cleveland Browns Stadium two weeks ago. The Cowboys are 4-5 after a 38-23 win at the Eagles last Sunday.

CONNECTIONS

Browns offensive line coach George Warhop served in the same capacity with the Cowboys from 2003-04. Warhop also coached at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas in 1993.

Wide receivers coach Mike Wilson was a ninth-round pick of the Cowboys in the 1981 NFL Draft.

Ray Rhodes, the Browns’ senior assistant to the defense, is a native of Mexia, Texas and began his college career at Texas Christian University. Strength and conditioning coach Kent Johnston is also a native of Mexia and went to Stephen F. Austin University. He has coached at both Teague and Willis high schools in Texas.

Nolan Cromwell, the team’s senior assistant to the offense, was the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M from 2008-09.

The Browns have several Texas natives on their roster, including linebackers Craig Robertson (Stafford) and Tank Carder (Sweeny), Dawson (Dallas/Lake Highlands High School), defensive lineman Juqua Parker (Houston/Aldine High School) defensive backs Tashuan Gipson (Dallas/Kimball High School) and Trevin Wade (Round Rock/Stony Point High School), quarterback Colt McCoy (Tuscola/Jim Ned High School), running back Chris Ogbonnaya (Houston/Strake Jesuit College Preparatory School) and Gordon (Houston/Lamar High School).

Robertson (University of North Texas), Dawson, Ogbonnaya and McCoy (University of Texas), Carder (TCU), offensive lineman Oniel Cousins (University of Texas-El Paso), Gordon and defensive lineman Phil Taylor (Baylor) and defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin (Trinity Valley Community College) all went to college in Texas.

Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan held the same position with the Browns from 2009-10. Secondary coach Jerome Henderson served as the Browns’ defensive backs coach from 2009-11. Linebackers coach Matt Eberflus was in the same capacity with the Browns from 2009-10.

Defensive quality control/assistant linebackers coach Ben Bloom was an assistant for the Browns in 2009-10, while offensive quality control/wide receivers coach Keith O’Quinn was the Browns’ director of pro personnel in 2009.

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, the passing coordinator/tight ends coach, John Garrett, and the director of pro scouting, Judd Garrett, all graduated from University School in Cleveland. Garrett’s father, Jim, was a Browns assistant coach from 1978-84.

Cowboys defensive lineman Kenyon Coleman (2009-10) and fullback Lawrence Vickers (2006-10) played for the Browns. Vickers was selected by the Browns in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft.

Dallas linebacker Alex Albright (Cincinnati/St. Xavier) is an Ohio native.

Center Kevin Kowalski, currently on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list grew up in Bedford and went to Nordonia High School in Macedonia before going to the University of Toledo.

MEDIA

Fans can watch Sunday’s game at 1 p.m. ET on local CBS affiliate WOIO-TV 19. Greg Gumbel will provide the play-by-play, while Canton native and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Dan Dierdorf (color analysis), will join him on the call.

The game is also available along the PNC Bank Browns Radio Network with Jim Donovan (play-by-play), Doug Dieken (color) and Jamir Howerton (sideline reporter) on the call.

What to Watch For is brought to you by Arby’s -- Arby’s Value Menu starting at one dollar will have you coming back for more without emptying your wallet.