Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bengals 19, Browns 14
As I write this, in the early-morning hours of Christmas Eve, I can't help but think that one holiday gift I was hoping for will be delayed, if not delivered at all.

It made too much sense for the Browns to beat the wounded, aimless Bengals Sunday. That would be too easy.

Winning would have given the Browns a playoff spot and an outside chance at winning their first division since 1989. The Browns controlled their own destiny, at least for a playoff berth.

For all the good things quarterback Derek Anderson has done this year, this may be what everyone remembers.

How, given the chance to push his team into the playoffs, he threw four needless interceptions and mis-managed the clock int the final two minutes.

It was remarkable the Browns had a chance to win at all, given how Anderson had all but handed Cincinnati 13 points at the end of the first half, then gave away two of his team's scoring opportunities in the second.

Yet, there Anderson was, leading the Browns for a potential game-winning drive. He had two timeouts, but seemed to not realize it. He threw over the middle, then didn't spike the ball, costing the team valuable seconds.

One last desperation heave almost didn't happen when Anderson scrambled for five yards and got out of bounds with a second left.

The memory I'll have of this game is Anderson grabbing his head after another ridiculous interception. He was "bad Derek," today, no doubt.

So now, we get to wait until about 11:30 p.m. next Sunday to see if the Browns advance to the playoffs. The Cleveland-San Francisco game is meaningless. The Browns could make the playoffs at 9-7 or miss them at 10-6.

Tennessee goes to Indianapolis, a game that has been moved to 8:30 p.m. The Colts are better than the Titans, but have nothing to play for. Peyton Manning likely will have taken his last snap before halftime.

The Browns have to hope that the Colts care enough to keep Tennessee out of the playoffs. It's not a great position to be in.

But all of this could have been for naught had the Browns -- specifically Anderson -- not choked during the biggest game of the year. A great performance next week would be nice to see, but it will do little to quiet the doubters going into next season.

For the first time all year, I found myself wondering if Brady Quinn would have done better.

We may find out next September, which probably will be the next time the Browns have a road game.



At 7:11 AM , Anonymous Erik said...

Derek Blunderson clutching his head after his third and fourth interceptions made me as angry as anything else. Like the knucklehead couldn't believe those passes had been picked off or something.

If Blundererson doesn't understand that staring down your receiver for five seconds is a bad idea, if he doesn't understand that rifling the ball into a haystack of black jerseys in an attempt to find the needle that is Kellen Winslow is a bad idea, then he got exactly what was coming to him.

To answer your question, Zach, yes, I believe a properly-prepared Brady Quinn would have done better yesterday. He has a more accurate throwing arm, better field vision and probably a better understanding of what constitutes a good throw.

Blunderson might be an adequate QB on most days, but he'll never be a franchise QB. The fact that we're looking at him as a franchise QB underscores how unspeakably awful the QB play has been around here in recent years. Everything is relative.


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