Browns pass test with Frye, Crennel

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 29, 2005

Charlie Frye limped through the Browns’ dressing room. His legs hurt, his ribs were sore, his body ached.

But he was the winning quarterback.

This was a game in which Frye was not especially sharp, a game in which his line was often overmatched. It was the kind of game in the wind and rain on the road in which a rookie quarterback’s crucial mistake costs his team the game.

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Instead, Frye stayed steady, stayed composed and stayed in the pocket, surviving some fierce hits in the final minutes as the Browns pulled out a 9-7 victory at Oakland.

Fans might call it winning ugly.

Frye calls it the first victory in the third start of his NFL career.

Coach Romeo Crennel calls it another test passed by Frye.

All of this is good, because Frye needs a few victories down the stretch to grow his own confidence and to help his teammates to continue their growing respect for the kid from the University of Akron.

The victory really began when Alvin McKinley blocked an Oakland field-goal attempt. That gave the Browns the ball on the Raiders’ 37-yard line.

Frye came into the huddle, insisting his team could win.

&uot;He has such control, such poise,&uot; left tackle Ryan Tucker said. &uot;On that last drive, he was fantastic. He took some shots, then bounced right up.&uot;

Frye completed 4-of-5 passes on that final drive. He threw two to Frisman Jackson.

Let’s stop here and mention that Jackson had not caught a pass all game. He has not been on the field much this season. The Browns receivers are beat up, and Jackson was needed.

&uot;Charlie ran that two-minute drill like it was his own,&uot; guard Cosey Coleman said. &uot;The most impressive thing to me was his leadership in presence in the huddle. He takes charge and has a real sense of authority.&uot;

What Coleman and Tucker say about Frye is important. It means just as much as Phil Dawson’s 37-yard field goal on the final play.

That’s because the offensive linemen knew that they were in a struggle with the massive Oakland line. Center Jeff Faine went out with what might be a torn muscle in his chest. Running back Reuben Droughns had one of his worst days with the Browns, 53 yards in 18 carries.

&uot;Not much was going right out there,&uot; Droughns admitted. &uot;But Charlie kept encouraging me. He stayed positive.&uot;

As General Manager Phil Savage said after the game, &uot;Charlie has never been a silver-platter quarterback. He’s had to work for everything.&uot;

He worked hard, and it paid off Sunday with another step toward him setting himself up to become a starter next year.

Terry Pluto is a columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal.