Instead, the defense held tough and the Browns rallied from 18 points down and won for the first time this season, 24-21 over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
“This win is huge,” Frye said. “I thought it was a game we were supposed to win. I thought we were a better team than Oakland. I’m glad we came out in the second half and played well.”
Frye threw three touchdown passes to lead the comeback, but it was the interception that almost cost him again.
With Cleveland (1-3) leading by three points, Frye led the Browns down to the 6 before throwing an ill-advised ball across the field that was intercepted by Nnamdi Asomugha with 3:58 left.
“I thought it was a bonehead play by me,” Frye said. “I forced it. That was a no-no that late in the game.”
Last week, Frye threw an interception in the end zone with 3:21 left with Cleveland leading Baltimore 14-12. The Ravens then drove for the winning field goal.
The Raiders were unable to do the same and are off to their worst start since losing their first three games in 1961.
“We feel fortunate to come out of here with a win,” Browns coach Romeo Crennel said.
A week off helped the Raiders (0-3) regroup after being outscored 55-6 in the first two games in Art Shell’s second stint as coach. It seemed like Oakland was poised for a win after taking a 21-3 lead.
But poor play on special teams, a mediocre performance by Andrew Walter in his first career start and a questionable spot by the officials doomed Oakland.
“We were better but that’s not good enough,” Shell said. “We just didn’t play well on a consistent basis. We played well in spurts. You can’t play in spurts. You have to be consistent.”
Early in the fourth quarter, Walter completed a 15-yard pass to Ronald Curry on third-and-16 from the 45. Curry appeared to stretch the ball to the 28, but the officials marked him just inside the 30 and short of a first down.
Shell chose not to challenge the spot after consulting with the coaches upstairs. Orpheus Roye then beat Langston Walker and stopped LaMont Jordan for a 2-yard loss in the backfield on fourth down to end the drive.
“We had to go out there and make a play on that down,” Roye said. “It was a big momentum swing.”
Jordan ran for 128 yards, including a 59-yard score, Sam Williams returned a fumble 30 yards for Oakland’s first touchdown of the year and Walter connected on a 5-yard pass with Randy Moss for his first career touchdown.
Frye’s third-quarter TD passes to Kellen Winslow and Joe Jurevicius helped the Browns avoid the third 0-4 start in their history. He finished 22-for-32 for 192 yards, winning for the second time in Oakland. Frye has three wins in nine starts overall.
Reuben Droughns ran for 100 yards on 25 carries for Cleveland after missing last week’s game with a shoulder injury.
“We just kept plugging away, and the line stayed confident,” Droughns said. “Being able to run the ball against these guys was great, because we kind of struggled doing that last year.”
Walter was 9-for-23 for 68 yards, a touchdown and an interception in place of injured starter Aaron Brooks.
“We got shut out in the second half,” Walter said. “That’s unacceptable. On offense we have to hit the gas pedal when we have them down.”
Cleveland’s two first-half scores came after long kickoff returns by Joshua Cribbs.
A 65-yard return set up Phil Dawson’s 28-yard field goal, and after Jordan’s touchdown run, Cribbs took the kick back 53 yards. That led to Frye’s 2-yard pass to Darnell Dinkins that cut it to 21-10 with 58 seconds left in the half.
Frye led two touchdown drives in the third quarter as Cleveland rallied to take a 24-21 lead. He hit Winslow on a 22-yard pass on fourth-and-8 from the Oakland 31 to set up a 2-yard TD pass to Winslow.
After Dennis Northcutt’s 58-yard punt return, Frye hit Jurevicius in the corner of the end zone for a 5-yard score late in the third quarter.
The Raiders were unable to score after Jordan’s long run made it 21-3 with 4:08 left in the second quarter.
Asomugha had two interceptions, the first of his career in his 50th game. … Cleveland played much of the game without its two starting CBs. Gary Baxter (injured chest muscle) was inactive and Leigh Bodden left late in the first quarter with an injured ankle. … Oakland DE Derrick Burgess, who led the NFL with 16 sacks last year, got his first two this season.