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

football games.”

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

fell apart.

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

eight games.

Following the heartbreaker, a few Browns players felt

wronged.

”I feel like we got robbed a little bit,” linebacker Paul

Kruger said.

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

imploded.

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

area.

Chudzinski said the officials told him the 15-yard personal

foul, assessed on the ensuing kickoff, was for ”contact to the

head.”

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

enough.

Chudzinski, though, believes his team, loaded with inexperienced

players, will be better for days like the one in Foxborough,

Mass.

”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