The first quarter in Buffalo threatened to set pro football back about 70 years. The final three periods made up for it and kept us entertained. Here's a recap from a fantasy slant.
Cleveland Rocks: For whatever reason, this Monday night thing is working for Braylon Edwards. He shook off some early drops to have arguably his most complete game of the year, catching eight passes for 104 yards (remember he also had a 154-yard effort against the Giants on MNF a month ago). Edwards becomes a must-play next week against Houston (don't necessarily watch him, just play him), and it will be interesting to see if the Monday trend carries over to the Week 15 date in Philadelphia. While the Browns weren't mad bombers in Buffalo, there were more intermediate throws in the game plan, and that's good news for long-suffering Edwards owners.
Brady Quinn got his first pro victory but the performance was choppy (14-for-36, 185 yards, 5.1 YPA, 55.9 rating). He's a deep-league matchup option right now at best. Kellen Winslow (3-40) was well-marked most of the evening and didn't do much, though it wasn't for a lack of trying (10 targets). He's still an automatic every-week play. I can't tell you what teams see in Donte' Stallworth (no catches).
The tune never changes with Jamal Lewis, the ultimate plodder (18 carries, 65 yards). Intriguing backup Jerome Harrison got a few touches (something the Arcade has been pleading for) and made good, ripping off a 72-yard touchdown scamper and a 21-yard catch-and-run. If the Browns would ever commit to Harrison touching the ball 10 times or more every week, I'd put him in the flex-consideration file (not yet, though). Joshua Cribbs stole a two-yard touchdown run, just to drive fantasy owners batty.
Phil Dawson isn't wearing that Captain's C for nothing, he's got game. He hammered five field goals through the uprights Monday, including the game-winning 56-yard bomb with 1:39 to play. But you can't really play Dawson with any confidence going forward; he's tied to a losing team, and five of the six games left on the schedule are outside in cold-weather cities, bringing extra risk to the equation.
Buffalo Stance: It was hard to watch Trent Edwards play quarterback Monday night, simple as that (16-for-26, 148 yards, one touchdown, 50.3 rating). Some bad early decisions led to three quick interceptions, and after that his confidence was completely shot. Edwards spent the rest of the night throwing checkdowns while the Browns routinely rushed three and dropped eight into coverage; Lee Evans (one measly target, no catches) was rendered completely useless. Rookie Steve Johnson (3-41) made a couple of plays and Roscoe Parrish had one catch for 21 yards, and that was it for wide-receiver production.
Edwards has some friendly matchups left on the schedule (at KC, SF, MIA, at NYJ, at DEN, NE), but it's hard to trust a gun-shy quarterback who's still looking for his first two-touchdown game of the year. The only saving grace to his fantasy effort Monday was a late touchdown on a quarterback sneak, but in most basic-scoring formats those points are negated by the three picks.
Marshawn Lynch looked tentative in the first quarter but he quickly turned it around, getting it done on the ground (23-119) and through the air (10-58, touchdown). Welcome back, Beast Mode. Horrendous Browns tackling had a role in this monster game, but hey, fantasy owners will take it (and more friendly matchups are on the way). Fred Jackson (12-60) did a fine job as the change-of-pace guy.
Buffalo's return game was dynamite, to no one's surprise. Leodis McKelvin collected 185 yards on three kickoff returns, including a 98-yard score early in the fourth quarter. He's going to be a star. Parrish had a 34-yard punt return, and Jackson did a nice job on some shorter kicks; the Browns, petrified of McKelvin, took the coward's way out on their late kickoffs, handing Buffalo great field position at no cost.
Rian Lindell missed the go-ahead field goal from 47 yards out in the final minute; it's silly that the Bills didn't give a more aggressive effort trying to get closer. Lindell nailed his other two chances en route to nine points - he's one of the more underrated kickers in the league.