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Harrison leads Browns to 3rd straight win

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TOM WITHERS | December 27, 2009 04:39 PM EST | AP


CLEVELAND — Eric Mangini has given Cleveland's new boss more to chew on.

Jerome Harrison had 148 yards rushing and the Browns won their third straight, 23-9 over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, extending a surprising streak that Mangini can use to strengthen his case to Mike Holmgren that he deserves to remain Cleveland's coach.

With consecutive wins over Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Oakland, the Browns (4-11) have their first three-game winning streak since 2007 and only their third since 1999. Holmgren, who is expected to be introduced as Cleveland's team president this week, may have to factor Cleveland's late-season surge into whether he retains Mangini, once given little chance of staying after a 1-11 start.

The Browns have shown improvement. They've cut down on turnovers, penalties, showed imagination on offense and had backups emerge as playmakers, none more so than Harrison, who followed up a 286-yard game last week by scoring the second time he touched the ball and setting a team record with 39 carries.

The Raiders (5-10) were reckless.

They committed 13 penalties for 126 yards, had two players ejected and failed for the fifth time this season to win two straight games.

Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 61-yard field goal – the fourth longest in league history – on the final play of the first half to get the Raiders within 17-9. Janikowski's low line drive barely cleared the crossbar, hitting the goose-neck support and bouncing back onto the field.

Janikowski's kick has only been bettered by New Orleans' Tom Dempsey (1970) and Denver's Jason Elam (1998), who share the record of 63 yards and Tampa Bay's Matt Bryant (2006), who hit from 62 yards.

Janikowski also made kicks from 44 and 34.

Phil Dawson kicked field goals of 42, 33 and 34 yards for Cleveland.

Derek Anderson finished 8 of 17 for 121 yards and didn't throw an interception. He was making his first start for Cleveland since Nov. 1, returning to the lineup because Brady Quinn suffered a season-ending foot injury last week. While Anderson's future in Cleveland remains cloudy, he was able to manage the game and got to run the no-huddle offense for the first time this season.

Oakland's Charlie Frye had a rough homecoming.

The former Browns QB went 26 of 45 for a career-high 333 yards, was sacked four times and threw three interceptions, including one on his first pass.

Anderson's 19-yard TD pass to rookie Mohamed Massaquoi with 18 seconds left before halftime gave the Browns a 17-6 lead, capping a drive in which the Raiders lost their composure and were called for three personal fouls – two against Pro Bowl lineman Richard Seymour.

Cleveland was backed up at its goal line and facing a 3rd-and-11 at the 6 when Harrison got free for a 17-yard run. Following the next play, Seymour and Browns guard Rex Hadnot exchanged shoves as several other skirmishes broke out around them.

Seymour and Hadnot were flagged for offsetting unnecessary roughness calls and before play resumed, referee Jeff Triplette tossed another yellow flag toward Seymour, who apparently made a comment he didn't like. Two plays later, Oakland cornerback Stanford Routt was called for head-butting and ejected by Triplette, giving the Browns a first down at Oakland's 27.

On third down, Anderson hit a streaking Massaquoi down the right side.

Frye was dumped by the Browns one day after their 34-7 loss in the 2007 season opener against Pittsburgh. They traded him to Seattle, earning the Akron native the distinction of becoming the first quarterback since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970 to start his team's opener and be traded before Week 2.

Frye returned to the scene, and on his first pass attempt, he threw a perfect strike to Browns linebacker David Bowens, who returned the interception to the Oakland 17.

Two plays later, Harrison, whose jersey wound up at the Pro Football Hall of Fame following his record-breaking performance in Kansas City, picked up right where he left off by darting 17 yards untouched for a touchdown to make it 7-0 just 1:28 in.