Monday, November 23, 2009

Some people are feeling pretty dramatic
Tony Grossi called it "one of the franchise's all-time giveaways."

I heard someone on TV say something similar. Yes, the Browns 38-37 loss to the Lions was pathetic, frustrating, irritating, annoying,and just plain bad.

But one of the worst for the franchise? Come on.

I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume we are separating the original Browns (back when the losses hurt so bad they had names), and just focus on the last 10 years, because in reality, this organization was born in 1999. Any connection between the two is sentimental and in some ways artificial.

I can think of five losses that were worse than this.

1. Dwayne Rudd, 2002: That year alone was odd. Rudd kicked it off by throwing his helmet when he thought the game's final play was over. He thought he'd sacked the Chiefs' Trent Green. He hadn't. The play continued, Rudd was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, and Kansas City kicked a field goal on an un-timed down, a field goal only made possible by 15 yards Rudd gave with his helmet.

2. That Chicago game, 2001: The Browns somehow lost a 21-7 lead in the final 1:30 of the fourth quarter at Soldier Field. Tim Couch threw a pick-6 to the Bears Mike Brown in overtime. If the Browns had won that game, they'd have been 5-2. Instead, they finished 7-9. Butch Davis' magic ended with that game.

3. That Pittsburgh playoff game, 2002: Kelly Holcomb played like Brian Sipe and the Browns led the Steelers, 24-7, before choking it away. Cleveland led by two scores with less than five minutes left, but lost.

4. That Pittsburgh regular season game, 2002: Phil Dawson misses a kick at Heinz Field in overtime that would have won it. Minutes later the Steelers attempt a kick to win the game, and it gets blocked. But the kick stays behind the line of scrimmage, and it wasn't fourth down. Re-kick. This time, Pittsburgh converts.

5. Raiders, in Oakland, 2007. I actually SAW Phil Dawson's game-winning field goal go through the uprights as time expired. But then-Raiders coach Lane Kiffin called a timeout just before the kick went off. Dawson's re-try was blocked and the Browns lost.

These losses all hurt more, I think, because the Browns were in somewhat competitive seasons when they happened. So what if the Browns won this game? Do they suddenly turn into a decent franchise? It hurt, but we've seen worse.

General thoughts on the game:

-Coach Eric Mangini's decision to pass on third and five with two minutes left made little sense to begin with. But to bring Brady Quinn out in shotgun formation, with no backs to even telegraph a run, was insane.

It's the type of playcall you make when you're a winning football team. The Browns are not that, so playing it safe was the best bet. Run Jamal Lewis, run the clock to 1:20 and punt. Leave Detroit with no timeouts and 70 or 80 yards to win.

It was a loser call for a loser team.

- The interference call was correct. Abe Elam should know that you just can't push a receiver out of bounds with the ball in the error.

- Mangini's timeout after the penalty? If given the choice of a chaotic defense against a backup quarterback who had no time to warm up, and a gritty (if injured) QB against a set defense, I pick the former. This is another case of the Browns coaching staff out-thinking itself.

- Mangini probably is done after the season. I don't blame him. I blame the owner that hired him and gave him enough power to make Alexander blush.



At 1:06 PM , Blogger Vince said...

I was at that Bears game at Soldier Field. Missed my goddamn plane that night 'cause it went into OT.


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