CLEVELAND -- Earl Little looked up at the scoreboard late in the fourth quarter and had a flashback to steamy Saturday afternoons playing in college.
"It was like being back at the University of Miami beating up people," the Browns safety said. "Man, it felt great."
Kelly Holcomb passed for 392 yards and three touchdowns and the Browns showed no signs of disarray while rolling to their most lopsided win since 1989.
Tuesday, coach Butch Davis released wide receiver Kevin Johnson -- Cleveland's leading receiver -- and on Thursday the NFL suspended star running back William Green four games for violating the league's substance abuse program.
But the Browns showed no after effects from the upheaval with their best all-around effort this season.
"We needed to make a stand," Davis said. "This was put up or shut up time for us. This was the defining moment of the season. This was not about vindication or validation."
It certainly helped the Browns that they were facing the Cardinals (3-7), who didn't cross midfield until late in the first half, were outgained 235-60 by halftime and finished with just 10 first downs.
Cleveland had 481 total yards to Arizona's 187.
"From the top down, we got outcoached, outprepared and most certainly outplayed in every aspect of the game," Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis said. "This was a humiliating defeat. This was as lopsided from one side to the other as I have ever been around. I haven't looked at the stats -- I don't need to. I lived through it."
Holcomb stayed in until the end and finished 29-of-35 with no interceptions. He completed passes to eight receivers in recording the fifth highest yardage total in team history.
"Hopefully, we can do that every week," Holcomb said.
With their offensive line finally intact after weeks of reshuffling because of injuries, the Browns scored their most points since returning to the league in 1999.
Following Johnson's release, Davis held a team meeting to explain his actions so his players understood that what he was doing was in the best interest of the Browns.
Apparently, they believed him, responding with three days of crisp practices and Sunday's startling victory.
"The week was incredible," Quincy Morgan said. "People were talking bad about us, but we came together as a team. This isn't all about K.J. (Johnson). When he was here we were 3-6."
While there was speculation that Johnson's release would fracture the team, linebacker Brant Boyer sensed during the week that the Browns were unified.
"Guys showed that they wanted to keep fighting," he said. "All of this stuff brought us together."
Morgan's 68-yard TD reception, in which he outran two Arizona defenders for the final 40 yards, put Cleveland ahead 34-6 in the third quarter.
Jackson's 4-yard run on the second play of the fourth quarter made it 41-6, but Davis didn't back off and left his offensive starters in until the end.
Andre' Davis, who had replaced Johnson in the starting lineup last week, had a career-high seven catches for 117 yards and one TD. Morgan finished with 116 yards, giving Cleveland two receivers with more than 100 yards in a game for the first time since 1983 (Ozzie Newsome, Ricky Feacher).
"We didn't do anything, period," he said. "I'm dumbfounded."
The Browns scored on their first four possessions, and if not for bogging down on two drives inside Arizona's 20-yard line in the first half and settling for field goals, Cleveland would have led by more than 20-3 at halftime.
- Arizona has lost 10 consecutive road games.
- Browns DE Kenard Lang missed his first game this season with a back injury.
- Cardinals LB Ray Thompson sprained his neck trying to make a tackle in the third quarter. X-rays were negative.
- Browns rookie RB Lee Suggs played for the first time this season after undergoing shoulder surgery. He gained 5 yards on five carries and had a solid tackle while covering a kickoff.
- The Browns are 7-1 (3-0 in 2003) when Davis catches a TD pass.
The Associated Press News Service
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