Browns lose 38-21 to Redskins in flat home finale

The fans booed and left early. The winning streak came to an

end. The playoffs are no longer possible.

This December will end like so many before it in Cleveland.

The Browns will have another losing season.

Unable to take advantage of quarterback Robert Griffin III’s

absence, the Browns couldn’t stop rookie Kirk Cousins and made too

many mistakes in a 38-21 loss Sunday to the Washington Redskins,

who won their fifth straight game and moved into a three-way tie

for first in the NFC East with New York and Dallas.

With a chance to close their home schedule with a win, the

Browns (5-9) fell flat.

Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden threw two costly

interceptions, running back Trent Richardson couldn’t find many

holes and Cleveland’s defense was taken apart by Cousins, who made

his first career start in place of an injured Griffin.

”We let ourselves down, and we let the whole city of Cleveland

down,” said Richardson, who rushed for two TDs and second-guessed

coach Pat Shurmur’s play calling. ”This was the last home game. We

were supposed to go out with a blast. This was a big ballgame for

us and we didn’t do what we were supposed to do.”

The Redskins decided one game without RG3 couldn’t hurt. He

disagreed, but after Cousins kept Washington’s winning streak and

playoff hopes intact, Griffin understood.

First place has him feeling better.

Cousins threw for 329 yards and threw two touchdown passes to

Leonard Hankerson and the Redskins (8-6) barely missed a beat

without the talented and multi-dimensional Griffin, who sat out

with a sprained right knee and wasn’t upset about having to stand

on the sideline and watch his teammates play.

”I was not happy with the decision,” said Griffin, who was

informed Saturday night of the plan to start Cousins. ”That’s the

decision they went with and I respect that. It doesn’t mean I have

to necessarily like it. I feel like I could have played this week,

next week, the week after. But that’s not my decision.”

The Browns were a long shot to make the playoffs. Riding a

three-game winning streak, they needed to win their last three and

would have required several other teams to lose to have any chance

at making the postseason for just the second time since 1999. But

that’s all over now, and Shurmur’s days in Cleveland could be

dwindling quickly.

By Jan. 1, the Browns may need a new coach, staff, general

manager and several prominent players could be headed elsewhere as

new owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner evaluate the

franchise.

It seems to be the same story in Cleveland every year.

”There’s a lot of uncertainty,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson

said.

Following the game, Richardson criticized Shurmur for not

staying with his game plan.

”We should’ve stuck with it,” he said. ”But we didn’t and we

tried to go do some other stuff, and the outcome came in a

different way. When we did do it, it worked. So we got away from

it, and the outcome comes as an `L.”’

Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden struggled from the

outset. He went 21 of 35 for 244 yards and two picks, both leading

to Washington TDs.

Weeden’s performance will certainly renew debate over whether

he’s the quarterback of the future. He certainly didn’t look like

it against the Redskins.

”It’s frustrating,” Weeden said. ”We put ourselves in a hole

so early in the year to where we were having to play catch up.

These last few games were almost like playoff games because we’re

making pushes. It’s upsetting. We wanted to give our fans a better

final game at home and keep this momentum going.”

Shurmur refused to say Weeden suffered a setback.

”I don’t think it was his best game, but I think that can be

said for all of us,” Shurmur said.

Richardson’s second TD run gave the Browns a 14-10 lead with

1:11 left before halftime. Earlier, he broke Hall of Famer Jim

Brown’s 55-year-old team rookie record for rushing TDs.

”It means a lot, but we still lost,” Richardson said. ”So it

doesn’t mean nothing – for real. In the long run, I’m going to sit

back and think about it, but right now, I’ve got a 24-hour rule.

I’m not down about this game, but I’m very upset about this game.

So it really didn’t mean as much without that `W.”’

NOTES: Browns S T.J. Ward left in the fourth quarter with a knee

injury. Shurmur did not provide an update on Ward’s condition. …

K Phil Dawson did not attempt a field goal in possibly his final

home game after 14 seasons with Cleveland. The 37-year-old has been

franchised the past two seasons and doesn’t know if he’ll be back.

”I thought about it,” Dawson said. ”The fans have been

unbelievable, just overwhelmingly supportive. I did want to take a

few moments to let them know I love them. … DE Juqua Parker

recorded his team leading sixth sack. … KR Josh Cribbs moved into

fifth place in career kickoff return yardage with 9,913.

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