CLEVELAND (AP) - Not long after orchestrating Cleveland's stirring comeback, Colt McCoy stood behind a podium and dissected the improbable win.
He smiled and shrugged. Did it really happen?
It seemed strange, almost surreal.
Because despite a litany of mistakes, playing without their star running back, with two wide receivers battling through injuries, a woeful offensive display and a skeptical crowd waiting for something else to go wrong, the Cleveland Browns somehow won.
Maybe, after all these years, it's their turn.
``We had to overcome a lot,' McCoy said. ``As ugly as it was, it's a huge win for us.'
McCoy drove the Browns 80 yards in the final three minutes, capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Massaquoi with 43 seconds left to rally Cleveland to a 17-16 win Sunday over winless Miami, a deflating loss sure to intensify the pressure on Dolphins coach Tony Sparano.
With the Browns trailing by six and less than four minutes left, McCoy walked up and down Cleveland's sideline telling his teammates to believe.
``We need one drive,' McCoy recalled telling them. ``One drive and we can win this thing.'
They bought in, and three weeks into a new season, the Browns are 2-1 for the first time since 2002.
``We put one together,' said McCoy. ``We got in the two-minute offense, guys got open, guys made plays. We played like garbage for most of the day.'
Before his game-winning TD toss to Massaquoi, who was limited in practice this week by an ankle injury, McCoy had overthrown, underthrown and flat-out missed receivers. But when it mattered most, he completed nine of 13 passes for 75 yards to six different receivers on Cleveland's climactic 13-play drive.
Browns first-year coach Pat Shurmur said the win reinforced a constant message to McCoy and his other players.
``Just hang in there,' Shurmur said after getting his first home win. ``Hang in there because you're going to get your opportunities all the way to the final gun, and he (McCoy) found a way to lead us on a drive.
``Colt knows how to win games.'
Getting the ball back with 3:23 left, McCoy worked the ball down to Miami's 14, picking up a key fourth-and-4 conversion and was helped along by an offsides penalty on Dolphins end Jason Taylor. On first down, McCoy made the defining play of his still budding NFL career.
Dropping back, he pump faked before lofting a perfect pass to the right corner over rookie cornerback Jimmy Wilson and to a leaping Massaquoi.
``My best throw of the day,' McCoy said. ``Mo did a nice job and got that guy (Wilson) to bite just a little bit. He wasn't that open, but in the NFL, when they're like that, you just gotta make a good throw. Mo did a great job of getting his feet in. It was a great feeling.'
The Browns played without running back Peyton Hillis, who was sent home with strep throat. Montario Hardesty started and ran for 67 yards on 14 carries in his first full game since undergoing knee surgery last year. Hardesty added three catches for 19 yards, including a 10-yarder on fourth down on the last drive.
For one of the few times in years, the final moments went the Browns' way.
``We lost a lot of games like this last year, but that is a thing of the past,' said Josh Cribbs, who caught a 33-yard TD from McCoy despite playing with a groin injury. ``We're starting to win the games that we should win. We went out there and got it done.'
The Dolphins (0-3) are in a bad way.
With upcoming road games at San Diego and the New York Jets, they're staring an 0-5 start in the face. Sparano was already under fire for the slow start, and the heat only figures to rise in the days ahead.
``I do believe the group in that room believes we're going to win,' Sparano said. ``I do think we are going to win. Now all that being said, we're 0-3. That's what we have to show for it. At the end of the game, we didn't make a play.'
After Massaquoi's acrobatic TD grab, the Dolphins caught two breaks. First, the Browns were penalized for excessive celebration and then flagged for a horse-collar tackle on the kickoff.
Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne took over near midfield, but threw three straight incompletions before he was picked off by Mike Adams on a pass intended for Brandon Marshall.
Henne knows the Dolphins must regroup quickly to salvage the season.
``It starts with believing you can win,' Henne said. ``We have to put the right mental attitude out there, knowing we are going to win. If you have the right attitude, you're more confident in yourself. We're going to find out what kind of team this is.'
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved