With a completely different format, the NFL All-Star game had a complete makeover for the first time in history. Because of the drafting scenario, teammates got the chance to really play against each other. While the Cleveland Browns franchise appears somewhat discombobulated, the six stars that played yesterday did not. The Browns were well represented and Cleveland fans can be proud of how their “boys” played.
Usually, the Pro Bowl is a poor excuse of a contest featuring the league’s best players and very little defense is played. This was not the case yesterday, despite the laziness of some players. Rising star tight end Jordan Cameron and elite wide receiver Josh Gordon accounted for two touchdowns for their respective teams. Cameron caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Nick Foles for the go-ahead touchdown late in the game for Team Sanders. Cameron finished with three catches for 26 yards and a touchdown.
That man who has become a household name in Cleveland, Gordon, caught six passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. Gordon also had a nice end around play that was straight out of last season’s playbook. In the first half, Gordon caught a 10-yard laser from Philip Rivers and carefully planted two feet in the back corner of the end zone for the touchdown. Later, Gordon was upended by his Browns teammate TJ Ward in what perhaps was the most dangerous (both players were fine) and exciting play in the contest. Ward also came within a few inches of intercepting a tipped pass in the end zone and made a typical “TJ Ward” type tackle on punt return coverage.
NBC analyst Chris Collinsworth, a former Cincinnati Bengals star who has never really liked the Browns, had this to say during the game, “If you have not followed the Cleveland Browns at all, they have some players in that franchise.” And, the Browns continued to back up that statement too.
Offensive linemen, Joe Thomas and Alex Mack also started for each team. Thomas was beat a couple of times by the NFL’s best pass rushers and Mack snapped the ball to his quarterbacks with ease. In a game with eight turnovers and nine sacks, both offensive lines were pummeled. Unlike 2011, Mack did not score a touchdown, remember that?
Browns’ first year Pro Bowler and star cornerback, Joe Haden had an interesting game too. Haden was often lined up on his rival, Antonio Brown. Brown had one diving catch for 39 yards against Haden. But, the play that Haden will remember in his first Pro Bowl is his strip interception of DeSean Jackson. After getting beat by Jackson earlier for the game’s first touchdown, Haden bounced back. Jackson ran a stop route that Haden was behind on. Quickly recovering after Jackson caught the ball, Haden wrapped his arms around Jackson jarring the ball loose and when he rolled over came up with the football.
In what normally is a boring game to watch for Browns fans, turned out to be another sign of hope for the future. Each orange helmet made plays in this game and it wasn’t about watching just Thomas like always. With the right coaching and better quarterback play, this team could surprise many in 2014.
Ryan Ruiz is the Cleveland Browns Beat Writer for The Inscriber: Digital Magazine. You can follow him on Facebook: Ryan (BrownsWriter) Ruiz and Twitter @ryanpruiz24. Ryan is also a Browns correspondent for The Sportsfix. Tune in every Friday at noon on www.thesportsfix.net. Have a question or comment for the “ASK Ryan” column on Fridays? Email Ryan at [email protected]