Browns find positives in heartbreaking loss
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski didn’t point a finger at anyone but
his own players.
A day after an epic collapse in New England, Chudzinski refused
to blame officials who called two questionable penalties against
the Browns in the closing minutes as the Patriots rallied from a
12-point deficit for an improbable 27-26 win.
”Anything can happen in a game and it did yesterday,”
Chudzinski said Monday. ”We have to make the plays and take
advantage of the opportunities we have to win those kind of
Outplaying a Patriots team with so much more on the line, the
Browns (4-9) built a 26-14 lead with 2:39 left before everything
Tom Brady, frazzled for three quarters, threw two touchdown
passes – the second set up by an iffy pass interference call in the
end zone on Cleveland rookie Leon McFadden – in the last 61
seconds. The Patriots recovered their first onside kick since 1995
to stun the Browns, who lost their fourth straight and seventh in
Following the heartbreaker, a few Browns players felt
”I feel like we got robbed a little bit,” linebacker Paul
Chudzinski was asked if referee Jerome Boger and his crew were
the worst he has seen.
”I wouldn’t say that,” he said. ”We can only control what we
can control and if we focus on the things that we can’t, then we’ve
given up all of our ability to do what we can do, and we put it in
somebody else’s hands or we blame somebody else. We’re just not
going to operate that way.”
Chudzinski chose to focus on the positives, and there were
plenty for the Browns: Quarterback Jason Campbell’s
interception-free, 391-yard performance. Another monster game by
wide receiver Josh Gordon.
But it was impossible to overlook the ways Cleveland
On Brady’s 2-yard TD pass to Julian Edelman with 1:38 left,
Browns rookie cornerback Jordan Poyer was penalized for unnecessary
roughness. The officials felt Poyer hit Edelman in the helmet, but
TV replays showed his hit was to the wide receiver’s shoulder
Chudzinski said the officials told him the 15-yard personal
foul, assessed on the ensuing kickoff, was for ”contact to the
Is that what it looked like on film?
”Hard to see,” Chudzinski said.
With the kickoff moved to the 50, Patriots kicker Steve
Gostkowski dribbled his onside kick up the middle. The loose ball
was recovered by New England after it bounced off Browns running
back Fozzy Whitaker.
Chudzinski said the Browns were initially in an alignment to
protect against a kick toward the sideline. As Gostkowski
approached and struck the ball, Cleveland’s ”hands team” alertly
slid toward the middle.
”On the middle bunt, which they’ve shown before and done
before, as they start coming in and their guys start converging
into the middle, we slide and go, and you go get the ball in that
case. It was a great kick for that type of kick. We had an
opportunity. We just weren’t able to come up with the ball.”
Brady took it from there.
It’s been that way for too long for the Browns. Close, not good
Chudzinski, though, believes his team, loaded with inexperienced
players, will be better for days like the one in Foxborough,
”Experience is a great teacher and the things that we can take
from this game and build on are that we can go toe to toe with
anybody in this league,” he said. ”I see the light. I’m
encouraged by our team and how they continue to work and move
forward and build on the things that we’re doing.”
NOTES: Chudzinski said RB Willis McGahee is following the
league’s protocol on head injuries after sustaining a concussion.
… Browns LG John Greco suffered a sprained knee. … Chudzinski
doesn’t feel safety T.J. Ward’s low hit on Patriots TE Rob
Gronkowski, who suffered torn knee ligaments, is a product of the
league’s new rules. ”I think he was trying to get Gronkowski down
on the ground,” Chudzinski said. ”A big guy coming at you that
way is tough to get on the ground so I don’t know that it has to do
with the rules other than trying to get the guy on the ground.
Certainly, we feel terrible about that (injury). He’s a great
player, and (we) hope that he has a speedy recovery.”
NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org