CLEVELAND (AP)—Official distance: 75 yards. Official time: 18 seconds. Reuben Droughns, though, will remember the best run of his NFL career as going on forever.
Showing elusiveness, power and savvy, Droughns scored on a 75-yard run on Cleveland’s first play and finished with 166 yards as the Browns put together their most complete game this season, a 22-0 rout of the Miami Dolphins.
On the Browns’ first snap, Droughns started right, spun left and darted for daylight. Picking up a few blocks, he ran as fast as he could for 50 yards and slowed near the sideline. He then zigged right, zagged left and jogged into the end zone, giving the Browns a quick lead.
“I was dying,” Droughns said. “I felt like I ran 250 yards.”
From his vantage point behind the line, Browns quarterback Trent Dilfer watched with admiration as Droughns’ No. 34 jersey shrunk in the distance.
“What a way to start the game,” Dilfer said. “Our scheme got us seven yards, and effort got us the other 68.”
Frustrated at their inability to make big plays, the Browns (4-6) made more than a handful on both sides of the ball while getting their second shutout in 107 games since returning to the NFL in 1999.
Cleveland’s defense held Miami to 55 yards passing and forced Dolphins coach Nick Saban to use an injured Gus Frerotte.
“We got our butts kicked, simple as that,” said Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor. “We got pushed around.”
Dilfer finished 11-of-18 for 137 yards and threw a 6-yard TD pass to fullback Terrelle Smith as the Browns ended a six-game losing streak against Miami.
Rookie wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who earlier in the week vented his frustration at not getting more chances to make plays, had a season-high six catches for 90 yards. Edwards also hooked up a couple times with rookie quarterback Charlie Frye, who played for the first time and went 6-of-11 for 58 yards.
Following the game, Dilfer gave Frye a game ball for his first NFL action, but then made some deflating remarks about coach Romeo Crennel’s decision to sit him.
“It makes my job harder and I don’t agree with it,” Dilfer said. “I will not change one bit professionally, and I’ll support whatever decisions are made wholeheartedly. But I’m not going to stand up here and say I agree with it.”
Dilfer was asked when he was told the Browns would give Frye some playing time.
“It’s none of your business,” he snapped.
In their sixth loss in seven games, the Dolphins (3-7) also lost linebacker Zach Thomas, a five-time Pro Bowl selection. He separated his right shoulder late in the first half, leaving Miami without its leading tackler. Thomas will undergo an MRI on Monday.
“We miss him when he’s not there,” said Saban.
In addition, linebacker Junior Seau left the stadium wearing a walking boot on his left foot.
On top of that, the Dolphins have serious issues at quarterback. Sage Rosenfels was benched in the second half of his second career start after going just 5-of-10 for 14 yards and two interceptions. Rosenfels started for Frerotte (sprained right index finger), but Frerotte came in and was only 4-of-18 for 53 yards.
“I didn’t play well at all and I have to change that,” Rosenfels said. “I missed some things and made some bad reads.”
Ricky Williams, looking better than he has all season, had 83 yards but was one of the only bright spots for Miami.
“This was the most disappointing game in terms of how we competed,” Saban said. “Our toughness and tenacity was not what it has been. When you miss three or four tackles on the first play, it doesn’t bode well.”
Droughns, closing in on becoming Cleveland’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 1985, turned the Browns’ first play into one of the team’s most memorable in years.
“That’s about as good a run as I’ve had in my career,” said Droughns, who has 868 yards. “I had a lot of fun on that one.”
Phil Dawson kicked three field goals for Cleveland. … Dolphins S Lance Schulters had his left side go temporarily numb when he was hit by a teammate in the first half. After being checked out, he returned. … Droughns’ TD run is the sixth longest in Browns history. … Dolphins WR Chris Chambers moved past Duriel Harris into sixth place on the club’s career receptions list.