Derek Anderson had an outstanding 2007 season for Cleveland (4-6) and there was no reason to believe he wouldn’t grow after his first year as a starter, but he struggled through eight games and coach Romeo Crennel benched him in favor of Quinn.
Houston (3-7), meanwhile, was hoping to get a full season out of Matt Schaub after a dislocated left shoulder limited him to 11 games last year. But Schaub has missed two straight games with a knee injury and could miss another four weeks, leaving Rosenfels as the starter.
With instability at quarterback, the Browns and Texans have taken a step back after going 10-6 and 8-8, respectively, in 2007.
Quinn, though, is coming off his first win as a starter. He wasn’t sharp, finishing 14-of-36 for 185 yards and a 55.9 rating, but didn’t make any major mistakes in Cleveland’s 29-27 win at Buffalo on Monday night.
The former Notre Dame star didn’t have an interception for the second straight game, and showed poise when it mattered most. With Cleveland trailing 27-26, Quinn completed a 12-yard pass to Braylon Edwards and a 16-yarder to Kellen Winslow to get the ball far enough for Crennel to summon Phil Dawson for a game-winning 56-yard field goal.
“We needed the luck to fall on our side,” Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas said. “We needed one to finally bounce our way.”
Quinn broke his right index finger in the game, but is expected to play Sunday. He may be without one of his top targets, as Winslow hurt his right shoulder in the closing minutes against the Bills and his status is uncertain.
“Whether (Winslow) will be able to play depends on his strength and movement, his range of motion,” Crennel told the Browns’ official Web site. “If he has that, he’ll be able to go.”
Missing Winslow, who leads the team with 39 receptions, won’t help Cleveland improve at home. The Browns are 1-4 there after going 7-1 last year.
“The one thing we want to do now is win a home game,” Crennel said. “That’s something we’ve not done much of this year.”
Cleveland seems to have a good chance to pick up its second home win against Houston, which has lost three straight overall and is 0-5 on the road. Two of the Texans’ victories came against teams that were winless at the time.
Houston has not been able to rally around Rosenfels, who has seven interceptions with four touchdowns this season. Rosenfels ruined Houston’s chances of a comeback in a 33-27 loss to Indianapolis last Sunday, throwing an interception to end the game.
He threw four interceptions in a 41-13 loss to Baltimore the previous week. Rosenfels, a career backup, said he’s trying to make better decisions and improve each week.
“I’m … really trying to manage the game,” he said. “There’s times when you can try to make plays and there’s times when you really got to be more conservative and either throw it away or take a sack. I’m really trying to learn … and not get too careless with the football.”
Rosenfels wasn’t the only culprit against the Colts, with the Texans’ defense giving away a 20-16 third-quarter lead.
Houston gave up 154 yards rushing to Indianapolis, and has allowed 162.6 in its last three contests. With defensive tackles Travis Johnson and Amobi Okoye both nursing ankle injuries, the Texans’ run defense may not improve any time soon.
Okoye has missed the last two games and Johnson was injured last Sunday. Both are listed as day-to-day.
Those injuries could help Browns veteran Jamal Lewis reach 100 yards rushing for the first time this season. Lewis, averaging 3.6 yards per carry, had 134 yards and a TD in a 27-17 win over Houston last Nov. 25.
Houston, meanwhile, continues to get surprisingly strong play from rookie Steve Slaton. He’s coming off his best game of the season, running 14 times for 156 yards to break the franchise’s single-game rookie record.
Slaton scored on a 71-yard run, the longest in team history, and has rushed for 701 yards and six TDs on the season.