The Cleveland Browns lose to Ravens as only the Browns know how
by Craig Lyndall
I’ve never been less excited for a Cleveland Browns primetime game. Judging from the wide shots of FirstEnergy Stadium, I wasn’t unique in this assessment of the potential entertainment value of the Monday night affair between the Browns and Ravens as numerous empty seats were visible. You would think I’d be more excited for the Browns to potentially win a game, what with Joe Flacco and countless other Ravens lost for the season. That should have spelled disaster for the Ravens on the road in what might be an even more lost season than the Browns are playing. Alas, the Johnny Manziel punishment game didn’t really inspire joy or excitement. In all honesty the game turned out more exciting than I ever could have imagined, but the ending was so sad and so familiar as the Browns lose on a blocked field goal on – wait for it – the last play of the game, 33-27. Let’s see how we got to the bitter ending.
Once the game started, instead of wide shots showing empty seats there were countless Monday Night Football shots focused on Cleveland Browns “superfans” who were presumably the only ones worth focusing cameras for crowd shots. And before anyone could blink, the Browns were down 10-0 giving up a punt return TD for an early punch to the gut. Yay!
The Browns didn’t stop taking punches either. Buck Allen was torching them for long runs and eventually scored a TD taking an early 17-3 lead. The booing was the loudest I’ve heard it in Cleveland in a long time. Jim O’Neil and Mike Pettine’s defense was getting torched by Matt Schaub making adjustments at the line and throwing over the top. When your defense is facing Matt Schaub you should probably keep everything in front of you, not take unnecessary risks with blitzes and dare him not to make a mistake. NFL Network put this helpful photo together.
And in the second half the Browns’ defense finally dared Matt Schaub to beat them and started winning by skipping the gambit and just sending four. Granted it was a zone blitz with Paul Kruger dropping into coverage, but the Browns sent only four, dropped weird people into coverage and Schaub was scared into throwing a pick-six to Karlos Dansby. The ageless Browns linebacker took it to the house thanks to some nice blocking and the Browns had their first lead of the game, 20-17. It was exciting and confusing all at once, but it was really short-lived.
To Matt Schaub’s credit, he didn’t shy away in his next opportunity. After handing the ball to Terrance West a few times in a revenge performance reminiscent of Greg Little with the Bengals (kinda whatever,) Schaub converted a fourth down pass to his fullback. Then he was able to find Kamar Aiken for the 15-yard touchdown. Ravens 24-20 over the Browns.
Josh McCown is a tough guy, but I’m sick and tired of the tough guy act. McCown was beat up all game long until he finally broke down again. Even after pretty much everyone knew that he had a dead arm, he winced his way back onto the field before finally giving way to Austin Davis on third-and-long. With the game in the balance, Johnny Manziel was seemingly off limits and it hurt everyone. I’m not saying it was the wrong call, but the home fans seeing Austin Davis jump on the field was beyond frustrating with Johnny Manziel dressed as the third quarterback. Why was he dressed? In what had become a positive note for the Browns coaching staff, Johnny Manziel became an in-game distraction to the crowd and probably the team as well who had to endure the unrest and boos. And don’t blame Browns fans who are once again innocent bystanders to the dysfunction that never stops raining down from the tops of the Berea organizational chart year-in and year-out.
With just over four minutes remaining in the game and the Browns down by a touchdown, it was Austin Davis’ mission to try and get the Browns tied and ultimately over-the-hump. A one-yard pass to Gary Barnidge and a 10-yard screen pass loss to Duke Johnson later, and things were looking pretty awful. The fate of the Browns against an awful, bruised Ravens team was on the shoulders of Austin Davis, Marlon Moore and a host of “other guys.” The Browns converted on fourth down deep in their own territory as the two-minute warning arrived and – surprise – I had no feel at all for this team.
Austin Davis cares NOT for ESPN producer’s desires! Austin Davis found Travis Benjamin for a 42-yard touchdown to tie the game at 27 with just under two minutes left to go in the game.
What happened next is so much Browns that I can’t even describe how much Browns it was. The Cleveland Browns intercepted Matt Schaub with the ball in amazing field position. Austin Davis drove some yards and then made a nice scramble to get the Browns in field position for the game-winning field goal and he inexplicably slid so that the Browns had to waste a timeout. The Browns ran the ball one more time to center the ball or something and then Travis Coons came out for a 51-yard game-winning field goal attempt.
This is just a bad year. There’s no other explanation for anything. I quit for the night.
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