The Cleveland Browns played conservatively and whether they paid the price because of that or because they still just aren’t a very good team is debatable. The Browns were attempting to be conservative and win 15-13, but instead lose 13-12 as Alex Mack’s leg got in the way of Ryan Pontbriand’s snap. (That’ll teach Mike Polk to show the world his ironic Pontbriand jersey.) The snap wobbled back and although Brad Maynard got it down, Phil Dawson shanked the oddly placed ball for a rare miss.
If the Browns had gone for the touchdown and committed a turnover I don’t know if the resulting backlash would have been better or worse. For my money, I’ll split the difference. I would take at least one pass to the end zone there rather than the constant runs including an extremely ill-advised hand-off to Alex Smith. I give Pat Shurmur and the Browns credit for bringing some creativity, but that kind of creativity wasn’t a good look. Bottom line today is that the Browns lost a game that they could have and should have won.
That doesn’t mean that the Browns didn’t finally find some success against one of the weaker teams on their schedule because they did. For once they were able to run the ball with the 4th and 5th string running backs. They unleashed the weapons they do have left including some Josh Cribbs runs, an end-around to Greg Little. A double reverse pass for 21 yards to backup QB, Seneca Wallace, oh and that horrible handoff to Alex Smith. Still, it was a nicely called game by Pat Shurmur for the most part. The Browns’ offensive line even gave McCoy enough time at one point to complete a bomb to Greg Little that was about 50 yards in the air.
Even with all that though, the Browns again couldn’t get the ball into the end zone. It is getting pretty depressing at this point even as Phil Dawson impresses.
The Browns defense is starting to play the same pattern almost every week. Maybe it has to do with the number of rookies on the defensive line, but they start slowly. As the game wears on and as Dick Jauron and his staff have a chance to adjust, they start to play better. At the end of the day, Steven Jackson’s box score looks decent enough with 127 yards, but on the flip side, the Browns held the Rams passing attack to just 155 yards. Another week where the Browns defense does enough to win, but doesn’t get the pleasure of celebrating a victory. It must be very frustrating.
So, we’ll dissect this one throughout the week. Despite the loss and despite the fact that the Browns still leave a lot to be desired, I think there are some positives (other than the defense) to be drawn from this game to go along with the obvious negatives. The Browns didn’t play well, but they seemed to outplay their opponent for the first time in weeks. Other than Steven Jackson, I think the Browns had the more impressive game between Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford. Brandon Lloyd had a touchdown, but Greg Little had more yards. The Browns offensive line can go to bed tonight knowing they enabled Chris Ogbonnaya to peel off a 32 yard run. Not many offensive lines can say that, right?
Yes, some of this is tongue in cheek, but not all of it.
While that doesn’t provide much solace to those who hung out on the lake this windy day, it might provide a bit of momentum for the Browns coming out of meetings studying the tape. That same tape might also put a few more fears in the defensive staff of the equally woeful Jaguars who bring their 3-6 record to town next week.
It isn’t like you expect Josh Cribbs fumbles and Alex Mack extra point snap blocks to submarine your game. Just consider this like a bad round of golf. You are miserable heading into the clubhouse, but as you crack your second beer you remember that you did have two pars and that one birdie as you check your schedule to hit the course with your buddies again next week.