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5 Observations: Offensive fireworks the best pick-me-up for Browns defense

The sprinklers are running and the sun is still shining on downtown Cleveland.

Surely, it feels a little brighter for Browns fans after a game like Sunday's.

Here's what we gathered from the locker room after Cleveland's 28-14 victory.

1) Offense gives defense the ultimate pick-me-up -- twice

If you're comparing the two, Cleveland's defense was more consistent than the offense Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Without two big assists from the opposite side of the ball, though, it's hard to envision the Browns defense being as upbeat as they were following the 28-14 victory.

For starters, the Browns defense logged exactly three plays without the lead. Johnny Manziel's quick strike touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin insured the Browns would play with the lead for all of 2:09. That was big for a defense that played from behind for the entire second half last week and was going against a Tennessee offense that played with the lead throughout an even larger percentage of its season-opening win at Tampa.

"Can't be more proud of the offense the way they responded and came back from last week," linebacker Paul Kruger said. "I'm just real happy."

There's no bigger pick-me-up than what the defense received after a draining, frustrating Tennessee drive that milked more than 8 minutes off the clock and largely silenced a rowdy Browns crowd after rookie Dorial Green-Beckham caught a 13-yard touchdown on fourth down. Faced with trotting back on the field with a one-possession lead, the defense instead celebrated and breathed a sigh of relief when Manziel hit Benjamin once again for a game-sealing touchdown pass.

The Titans' final offensive possession had a different feel than it would have in a one-possession game. The Browns were able to drop back and prevent the big play rather than press. Ultimately, it resulted in the kind of ending that elicits the least amount of stress: a quarterback kneel.

"It's a team effort. We did as much as we possibly could and they closed the door for us," linebacker Karlos Dansby said. "We got to do it together. That's the only way to get it done."

2) Big response to a call to action

In his analysis of the run game against the Jets, Browns coach Mike Pettine called on his running backs, Isaiah Crowell in particular, to break more tackles.

It was clear Pettine's words were digested and heeded.

"We took that to heart," Crowell said. "We just had to go out there and show coach he can trust us."

From a pure yardage standpoint, the Browns' final total wasn't much different, but it was how they arrived to their 116 on 30 attempts that made all the difference. After combining for just 42 yards the previous week, Crowell and Johnson had 115, and many of them came after contact.

"It is not just him. That whole room – I thought Duke did a nice job as well and hit some runs where it wasn't blocked for much and the next thing you know the sticks were moving or it was a real positive gain," Pettine said. "I thought both backs did a real good job."

3) Injury update

Pettine mentioned linebacker Barkevious Mingo (knee) and defensive lineman Desmond Bryant (shoulder) as players dealing with injuries after Sunday's game. Bryant, who was limited in practice throughout the week, was a game-time decision while Mingo missed most of August after undergoing knee surgery.

The biggest scare came in the second half, when first-round rookie Danny Shelton remained on the ground after taking a hard hit to his shoulder. The massive nose tackle drew a loud ovation from the crowd when he popped up and jogged to the sidelines.

Shelton was back on the field in a matter of plays and finished the game.

"It wasn't a big deal," Shelton said. "I just landed on it wrong when I tackled. Just took a couple of plays off and came back in."

Tennessee was without three starters because of injuries and was dealt a significant blow in the first half when offensive guard Chance Warmack went down with a knee injury. Warmack did not return.

4) Pettine explains 4th down call

With a chance to go up three scores midway through the second quarter, the Browns went for it on fourth-and-1 at the Titans' 19-yard line. With three wide receivers split to the left, Manziel took the snap and dove forward. He was promptly stuffed for a loss.

"Anytime it's inches, we have confidence in our guys that we can make it," Pettine said. "We felt we were up two scores and that we felt we could get that. I give credit to them for stopping us, we didn't execute the play, the sneak well enough. It's easy to say I regret it now that it didn't work out, we just felt we had momentum. The way we were playing defense we had them shut out to that point.

"It was a decision we made and we rolled with it."

5) Dawg Pound makes it tough on Titans

The Titans encountered their second straight home opener as the visitor Sunday, and it's safe to say Sunday's presented far more challenges.

With the Dawg Pound at their back, the Titans gained a yard on their first possession. Former Brown Terrance West fumbled on the following drive and Tennessee called multiple timeouts that weren't used for clock management situations.

The Titans had nine penalties for 85 yards and three turnovers.

"The noise element makes it tough," Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

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