Baskin: Browns-Lions battle for 'Barge' trophy

CLEVELAND - When you are a franchise that has not won a playoff game since 1994, playing for any trophy is meaningful. So bring on the Great Lakes Classic. Born from former General Manager Carmen Policy's marketing incentives, this game between the Browns and Lions is played for the "Barge" trophy.

Friday night's game marks the ninth straight time the Lions and Browns have met in the preseason. For what it's worth, the Browns are 5-and-4 in these games.

Last year, the Lions got hot late, scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to beat the Browns 35-27 in Detroit.
But let's move beyond the history of this game.

On Friday, look for the Browns starters to play more than just a quarter in this game. Starting Browns quarterback Colt McCoy looks a little better in the west coast offense, and he proved that last week on the first drive against Green Bay, going 5 for 5, before hitting Josh Cribbs on a 27-yard touchdown pass. The Browns won that preseason opener 27-17.

Like McCoy, the team is just trying to put it all together in preparation for the first game of the season.

"At this point we want to just stay consistent," Cribbs said. "We had a pretty good showing of our offense and we want to do the same this week. We want to capitalize on that and maybe open up the playbook a little bit more."

As of Wednesday, the Browns were fighting the dog days of training camp. Offensive lineman Eric Steinbach left practice with a back injury. Defensive back TJ Ward had a tight hamstring. Running Back Peyton Hillis also needed to have his hamstring checked out.

It's a tough spot for Browns first-year head coach Pat Shurmur. Everything is new. He will be making his first cuts. Teams must be down to 75 players by August 28 and down to 53 by August 30.

"As far as evaluating who the team is, at the end here, their competition and how they perform really direct us to what's going to happen there," Shurmur said. "As fans, you could pick out a few guys who are definitely going to make it, but at the bottom part of the roster there's some good competition right now."

Last week, Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford threw touchdown passes on his two drives and the Lions went on to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 34-3.

Lions backup quarterback Shaun Hill ran for a score and Jason Hanson kicked a field goal to give Detroit a 24-3 lead at halftime.

Bengals QB Andy Dalton was hit hard by Ndamukong Suh after taking his first NFL snap and Chris Houston intercepted the underthrown pass. Suh was eventually fined for a hit he put on Dalton, making it the fine in his career for rough play. He took a $20,000 hit in his wallet for the play.

Stafford was 6 of 7 for 71 yards. He threw a 26-yard TD pass to Calvin Johnson and a 7-yard score to Nate Burleson on an overturned play.

The way both of the franchises are trying to return to glory, it will be nice when this isn't the only trophy game each team plays in each season.

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