In school, they would have flunked Don Strock for cheating. In the National National Football League, he got a passing grade.
The veteran quarterback, starting for the first time since 1983, taped a list of plays to his wrist Sunday and threw a pair of second-half touchdown passes to lead the Cleveland Browns past the Philadelphia Eagles, 19-3.
“There were 55 or 60 plays on this list,” Strock said. “It was very helpful. It got the plays in a little quicker, especially for me, because I could just read off the whole play this way.”
The Browns used the “cheat sheet” because Strock remains unfamiliar with much of their complicated, option-filled offense. He was signed a month ago and drew the start because of injuries to Cleveland’s top three quarterbacks.
“The terminology is so different between what we do and what he’s accustomed to,” Coach Marty Schottenheimer said. “We just thought that this way, we could call a number and he could look at it on the wrist band and run it. But you still have to execute it.”
The victory continued a personal winning streak for Strock, who won Miami’s final 2 games in 1983 while substituting for injured Dan Marino. Strock got help from the defense, which sacked Philadelphia quarterback Randall Cunningham 9 times. Cunningham has been sacked 34 times in 7 games.
“You don’t point fingers,” Cunningham said. “I didn’t have a good game and I am the first to admit it. I accept my blame and I’m not going to point fingers at anyone. Their cornerbacks are great and they really came at us with their front people out of the nickel defense.”
Strock, 37, broke a 3-3 tie with 5 minutes left in the third quarter when he lobbed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Webster Slaughter. The extra point was blocked.
Slaughter broke his forearm in the fourth quarter and will miss at least 8 weeks.
Cleveland put the game away with 6:55 remaining on Strock’s 18-yard pass to Reggie Langhorne.
Matt Bahr also had field goals of 24 and 37 yards for the Browns, who are off to a 4-3 start for the fourth straight season. Cleveland limited the Eagles to 50 yards rushing and 69 yards passing.
The Browns’ defense, ranked first in the AFC and second in the NFL, allowed the Eagles past the Cleveland 40 once in the game. That was in the second quarter, when a personal foul on cornerback Hanford Dixon kept alive a Philadelphia drive climaxed by Luis Zendejas’ 39-yard field goal.
Philadelphia (3-4) did not get past its own 41 in the second half.
Frank Minnifield intercepted 2 of Cunningham’s passes. A third Minnifield steal was erased because he was called for pass interference.
The last of his interceptions, at the Eagles’ 32, set up the clinching pass to Langhorne.
Strock completed 11 of 18 passes for 189 yards, with an interception. Cleveland’s regular quarterback, Bernie Kosar, is expected to return next week, after missing his sixth game with a sprained elbow. Gary Danielson was out for the fifth week because of a broken ankle, while Mike Pagel, the third-string quarterback, separated his shoulder last week.
Kevin Mack rushed 16 times for 100 yards, the eighth time he has reached the 100-yard mark.
The Eagles had 17 net offensive yards in the second half--20 on the ground and minus-3 passing.