Chudzinski refuses to blame officials for Browns’ loss

Dec 8, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski throws up his arms after pass interference was called on cornerback Leon McFadden during the fourth quarter of their 27-26 loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.  

Winslow Townson/Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

BEREA, Ohio– Even a day later, most of Cleveland and Browns fans are still talking about the officiating at the end of the Browns loss to the Patriots Sunday.

Even national talk show host Rush Limbaugh said he felt bad for Cleveland fans on his show Monday, mentioning how the pass interference on Leon McFadden was a “bad call” that ultimately cost the Browns the game.

However, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski refused to blame the game on the officiating.

He was asked if it was the worst officiating he had seen and replied, “I wouldn’t say that. Again, we can only control what we can control and if we do we can’t focus on what we can do and we put it in other peoples’ hands. We can’t blame someone else.”

The officials called pass interference on McFadden in the end zone when Tom Brady threw a pass over the head of Josh Boyce. The penalty gave the Patriots a first down on the Browns’ one for a gain of 29 yards.

Chudzinski was asked after the game if he thought it was pass interference.

“I did not,” he said. “I felt like those two were both jostling for the ball and obviously, the penalty was called. So, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what I think.”

Chudzinski was asked on Monday if he felt the same way after reviewing the replays.

“I still feel the same way about that,” Chudzinski said. “Still, we had other opportunities to change the outcome.”

A few moments earlier, Jordan Poyer was called for unnecessary roughness when he tried to dislodge the ball from Julian Edelman on Edelman’s touchdown catch. Poyer hit Edelman with his shoulder –not his helmet– in the shoulder area as Edelman was making the grab.

Chudzinski also didn’t agree with the call on Poyer. 

“Yeah, all I saw was (Poyer) hitting the guy and I thought he hit him with his shoulder,” he said after the game. “I didn’t see any penalty there.”

On Monday, Chudzinski said that the officials said they called the penalty on Poyer for “contact to the head.”

Chudzinski was asked if he thought the pass interference penalty should be a 10- or 15-yard penalty rather than a spot foul, like it is in the NFL. Many times a long pass into the end zone, teams are looking for a pass interference call.

“I think the way it is, is the right way.”

The 15-yard penalty was enforced on the ensuing onside kick, allowing the Patriots to start at the Browns’ 40, rather than around their own 45 with 1:01 to play. The two penalties accounted for 44 yards on the final drive.

Besides the end-of-game penalties, Chudzinski had to challenge two calls in the game the officials made that ended up being reversed. The Browns had seven penalties for 75 yards called against them, but none were as costly as the two at the end of the game. The Patriots had six penalties for 41 yards.

Still, the Browns had plenty of opportunities to win the game, including recovering an onside kick that would’ve won the game.

“I’m not happy with the outcome,” Chudzinkski said. “We had opportunities to win the game but didn’t close it out.”

Chudzinski defended the Browns “hands team” was in the proper alignment as the Patriots attempted the onside kick. Fozzy Whittaker touched the ball before it went 10 yards, allowing the Patriots to recover.

“Every one was lined up (right),” he said. “When they first aligned, we slid in as we’re supposed to. On a middle bunt which they’ve shown before, you go get the ball. It was a great kick. We had an opportunity. He charged the ball, but didn’t get the ball. In those types of situations, it’s a scrum.”

Despite the loss, Chudzinski is optimistic in what he’s seen.

“I see the light and was encouraged by our team as they continue to work and move forward,” Chudzinski said. “The outcomes (wins) will come as players continue to grow in the system and make that steady improvements.

“You need to make the plays,” he said. “I  see a lot of really positive signs coming out of this game (the players) see and know that we can go toe-to-toe with anybody in this league. You see the togetherness and relentless play. You saw us attacking all day long and that happens over time. You can see a lot of the guys development and improvement  and the results will  come. Positives are the right things happening and that will come.”

In his Monday morning press conference, Bill Belichick summed up his views on the game.

“Cleveland did a good job,” he said. “They out coached us and outplayed us in every area. Fortunately we were able to make some plays at the end, play some good situational football and be able to come back and score pretty quickly at the end of the game where a lot of things had to go right.”


— QB Jason Campbell had his best game of his career, in terms of passing yardage, coming after practicing just two days after being cleared from a concussion.

“He played great,” Chudzinski said. “He made good decisions and made plays. He managed the offense, had no turnovers and was a real positive in that game. There were a lot of positives in that game.”

Campbell was 29-of-44 for 391 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions and a rating of 116.8. He also had two runs that picked up first downs for a total of 27 yards.

“He showed the leadership and all in the room rallied around him,” Chudzinski said. “Jason’s presence had a lot to do with that.”

— WR Josh Gordon had his fourth straight game of over 100 yards and now has the franchise record for receiving yards in a season with 1,400. He surpassed WR Braylon Edwards’ previous record of 1,289. Gordon has three games left and has only played in 11 games.

“He’s playing at an extremely high level,” Chudzinski said. “He continues to improve because he desires greatness. His best days, like our best days are ahead of him.”

Chudzinski was asked if Gordon is an elite NFL receiver.

“You have to put (him) in the conversation with the top guys,” he said. “Consistency will be what I’m looking for.”

Gordon’s highlight against the Patriots was a short pass that he turned into an 80-yard touchdown.

“It was a quick slant and we caught them in man coverage,” Chudzinski said. “It’s a great call by (offensive coordinator) Norv (Turner) and he caught the ball and got away from him.”

— TE Jordan Cameron had 9 receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown. Cameron had been quiet in recent weeks, but had a big game against New England.

 “I just think it’s the natural cycle of how things are going to play out during the course of the season,” Chudzinski said. “When a guy shows he can be a play maker they will account for him. He’s proven he’s a consistent play maker and has improved his route running. He’s another guy who’s best days are ahead of him.”

–RB Willis McGahee suffered a concussion and OL John Greco sprained his knee. Both players will be evaluated and updated Wednesday.

— Chudzinski defended his decision to go for the two-point conversion when the Browns were leading 12-0.

“The book says go for two,” he said. “You try to play the percentages and go forward with it.”

— QB Caleb Hanie was Campbell’s backup Sunday and QB Alex Tanney was inactive. Hanie was the only Browns player who was active that did not play.

— Chudzinski was asked about DB T.J. Ward’s tackle that likely ended the season of TE Rob Gronkowski.

“He’s a big, tough guy trying to get him on the ground,” he said. “We feel terrible about that and hope he has a speedy recovery.

“The bottom line is we have to operate within the rules of what they can and can’t do.”

“Cleveland did a good job. They out coached us and outplayed us in every area.”

- Bill Belichick

Andrew Weber-USA Today Sports


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