BEREA, Ohio (AP) -Inches from infamy, the only thing that stopped the Cleveland Browns from making unwanted history was another miss off the foot of a Buffalo kicker.
In jeopardy of becoming the first NFL team to blow leads of at least 13 points in three consecutive games, the Browns survived with a 29-27 win on Monday night when Bills kicker Rian Lindell pushed a 47-yard field goal to the right - a hauntingly familiar sight for Buffalo fans forever scarred by Scott Norwood's notorious Super Bowl miss.
The Browns, whose season has been defined by hard luck and turmoil, finally caught a break.
``I don't think anybody thought that guy would miss that field goal,'' Browns coach Romeo Crennel said on Tuesday. ``But he did.''
It was a welcome finish for the Browns, who in the past two weeks had buckled in back-to-back demoralizing losses at home. First, they squandered a 14-point lead and lost to Baltimore and then followed it up four days later by giving up a 13-point lead and falling to Denver.
is accused unnamed teammates of quitting.
There was no quit in Buffalo, but there wasn't much hitting either. The Browns tackled - or in this case, didn't tackle - with the same efficiency as a high school team.
Still, they won. And warts and all, that's all that matters.
``We needed this one,'' offensive tackle Joe Thomas said. ``We needed the luck to fall on our side. We needed one to finally bounce our way.''
The Browns (4-6) got most of the bounces and a majority of the breaks, getting four turnovers - three interceptions of Buffalo's Trent Edwards in the first quarter - but it still took a career-long, 56-yard field goal from Phil Dawson with 1:39 left and Lindell's miss with 38 seconds to go for them to win.
Cleveland's season hasn't necessarily been saved and Crennel's job may still hang in the balance of the next six games, but the Browns have something build on.
``I can't say enough for this being a big win for our team,'' said quarterback Brady Quinn, who wasn't sharp but didn't make any major mistakes in his first road start as a pro.
``We've been battling the last two weeks and it hadn't come out our way. This is one of the situations where we were doing everything we could and we ended up winning it in the end.
``It wasn't the way we wanted to, but a win is a win.''
unimpressive 14 of 36 for 185 yards and a 55.9 QB rating. He wasn't able to capitalize on a short field, courtesy of the interceptions, as the Browns settled for field goals from Dawson instead of getting touchdowns.
But more importantly, the former Notre Dame star didn't have an interception for the second straight game.
It took some luck for that to happen. Quinn nearly had two passes picked off in the fourth quarter by Buffalo defensive backs, who couldn't hold on.
``There were a couple of times he was a little lucky,'' Crennel said. ``But I'll take a little luck.''
Quinn, who was handed the starting job two weeks ago when Crennel benched Derek Anderson, showed poise when it mattered most.
With Cleveland trailing 27-26, Quinn completed a 12-yarder to Braylon Edwards and a 16-yarder to Kellen Winslow to get the ball far enough for Crennel to summon Dawson, whose only misses this season were from 51 and 54 yards.
``Thank God for Mr. Automatic, Phil Dawson, or it would be another sad day in Cleveland,'' linebacker Andra Davis said.
Last season, Dawson kicked a 49-yard field goal through blizzard-like conditions in Cleveland in a win over Buffalo. This one wasn't as technically difficult, but given the Browns' recent state of upheaval, it was much more meaningful.
ow trajectory and the ball barely missed the outstretched right arm of 6-foot-6 defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, who had blasted through long snapper Ryan Pontbriand and penetrated into Cleveland's backfield.
As he watched Dawson's kick knifed through the icy Western New York air, Crennel stood on the sideline and willed the ball along with some extra body English. After it dropped from the sky and over the crossbar, the Browns' bench erupted and Crennel allowed himself a brief moment of celebration.
However, the Bills quickly moved from their 44 to Cleveland's 29 and into Lindell's range.
And then, nearly 60 minutes of action, some of it thrilling, some of it ugly, came down to one play.
Snap. Place. Kick. Wide right. Browns win - by inches.
``I've been in a lot of games in the NFL and a lot of them come down to that fine line,'' Crennel said. ``It can be said about any game that you look at, there are about three plays in any game that if they go the other way, it changes the outcome. That's all you can do, keep fighting and do the best you can and whatever happens, happens.''

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