It wasn’t quite The Drive, but the Dallas Cowboys managed to go the entire length of the pristine turf at Cowboys Stadium in roughly one minute and five seconds. Sure, they had some help, but the end result was one that every Clevelander saw coming a mile away: a Dan Bailey field goal, capping off a 17-point fourth quarter and sending their game versus the Cleveland Browns in to overtime where they would go on to pull off the come-from-behind victory. Not long thereafter, Philadelphia 76ers forward Thaddeus Young was on the receiving end of an alley-oop dunk with 28.9 seconds remaining in his team’s contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers, capping off a 13-6 run that would seal the win for the hometown hosts.
Solid defensive efforts across the board, surprising for the team in Wine and Gold, but the end results were the same: a lack of execution down the stretch, a few unfortunate bounces of the ball, and two Cleveland teams each amassing another loss, taking their respective records to 2-8.
The Browns finished with 12 penalties1, 10 on defense and two on special teams, several of which came in the final minute of the contest, allowing the Cowboys to come back and take the reigns heading into the overtime period. A Browns defense that tortured the Dallas offense for 47 minutes, sacking quarterback Tony Romo seven times and allowing less than 70 yards rush, got sloppy (in the eyes of the officials, anyway) and faded when it mattered most. The Cleveland way.
Similarly, the Cavaliers — led by the frontcour trio of Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao — couldn’t clamp down as the clock neared zereos. Rookie center Tyler Zeller provided some energy. Rookie shooting guard Dion Waiters provided some attitude playhing in front of his home town. But in the end, it merely was not enough.
“Yeah, we had some good looks on the offensive end, but we got a little stagnant towards the end,” said Cavaliers head coach Bryon Scott. “I think a little bit of that had to do with fatigue. ”
The result was the Cavaliers’ sixth straight loss.
Another weekend, another Monday full of what-could-have-beens. Executing down the stretch, knowing how to win, maintaining composure both physically and mentally. The Browns were playing without their star cornerback in Joe Haden, allowing Romo and the Cowboys offense to exploit a battered secondary. At one point, with TJ Ward having placed a hit on Dallas’ Kevin Ogletree as well as Browns teammate Buster Skrine (he of the three pass interference calls), Cleveland was forced to rely on special team specialist Johnon Bademosi. The Cavaliers, in comparisn, were holding their opponent to 42.5 percent shooting. They just so happened to do so on a night when star guards Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters combined to shoot 6-for-27 from the floor.
Both games within reach for Cleveland, but both teams falling just short during crucial moments of their respective contests. The Cleveland way.
Call it youth and inexperience, blame in on culture and the bottomless pit of futility and depression that has laced Cleveland sports for the last decade. Focus can be on Pat Shurmur for potentially not putting his team in the best position to win — the fourth-down fade to tight end Jordan Cameron was questionable at best. Focus can be on Byron Scott who continues to trot CJ Miles and Omri Casspi (who combined to shoot 2-for-11 on Sunday night) out on the floor despite immense struggles on both ends of the floor2. Focus can be on Chris Grant, the Cavaliers general manager for not supplying Scott with better ammunition for his battles. Same can be said for Tom Heckert, Browns general manager, who failed to supply adequate depth in the defensive backfield with two starters3 on the shelf.
Or we can call it what it truly is: the Cleveland way.
The down side to having young players be the focal or core points of the franchise is their lack of knowing just what it takes to win at the professional level: The ice cold veins, the complete absence of fear of failure. Sure, every single player on both rosters have had their fair share of winning — they’re talented enough to be playing at the professional level after all, but to win within the NFL or NBA is a completely different scenario.
As the yellow flags were flying in Dallas and the 76ers were hitting clutch shots at the end of regulation, both games merely began to slip away. Shurmur was undeniably upset following his team’s loss, knowing that the pressure to win — what with a new owner and team president in tow — has increased exponentially over the course of the last few weeks. Scott was a bit more melancholy, able to chalk up his backcourt’s struggles to just being “one of those nights.”
The real unfortunate part: not one fan in the city of Cleveland was surprised at either outcome. The Browns were eight-point underdogs heading to Jerryville for the first time since that spaceship of a venue was erected. The Cavaliers just finished up a six-game road trip and were on the second night of a back-to-back that featured an early tip-off. When the whistles echoed and the buzzers sounded, the Browns and Cavaliers were both found themselves with the short straw. Shoulder shrugs were had, what-ifs were said.
The Cleveland way.
Thus becoming the first team since the 1985 Houston Oilers to yield 10 first downs via penalty in a single game (via Tom Reed) [↩]
The six-game losing streak is the fifth of Scott’s career with the Cavaliers, the first coach since Randy Wittman to have as many (via our own Rock) [↩]
Dimitri Patterson has missed the majority of the season due to an ankle injury [↩]