- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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CLEVELAND -- Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden appeared to have all day. Legitimately, second-upon-second to dissect the Detroit defense during the first half and find open receivers working against cornerbacks.
Considering the efficiency of the Lions front four in the past and how good they had been at both pressuring quarterbacks and also stuffing runs when necessary, this became surprising. The slowest quarterback in the NFL, with the longest time before pass in the league entering the game, got all of the time necessary to make the reads.
Meanwhile, Cleveland was able to run the ball well with Willis McGahee and gave Weeden the appropriate time -- he even had a rare scramble Sunday -- while Detroit couldn’t gain pressure.
“We ran the ball extremely well in the first half,” Weeden said. “That opened up a lot of things, play action, in the passing game. The guys up front, I thought, played extremely well.
“That’s a talented front four, they are deep, they rotate guys in that are also really good.”
Cleveland doubled defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh often during the first half, leaving it up to the rest of the Lions’ defensive line to make plays. It didn’t always go well.
The Browns hit their season-high rushing for a game in the first half when they gained 115 yards. Much of the yardage came on a 45-yard run by receiver Travis Benjamin, but there were holes to be had.
“Things were coming out a little bit faster and they were doubling, chipping, stuff like that,” defensive end Willie Young said. “Stuff that we get on the normal. Just have to continue to keep pushing and keep moving forward. Even when they are getting rid of the ball fast, doubling.”
In the second half, the Lions front four did. They pressured Weeden more, eventually hitting him five times and pressuring Weeden into throwing two interceptions to linebacker DeAndre Levy. They also sacked him twice and shut off the Cleveland running game.
The Browns rushed for 11 yards in the second half.
“Oh yeah. We made them one-dimensional,” Young said. “We took them out of the run game and couldn’t help but to pass and that allowed us to be a little more precise on our rush.”
The rush also looked more like the Lions front four typically had looked most of the season, when they used their depth and rotation to help turn the game.