The Cleveland Browns have officially become football’s version of the movie “Ground Hog’s Day”. Week after week, it’s the same old thing, the same old result, and another 10 loss season.
This one took some extra time, but the Browns fell to 4-10 with a 20-17 overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Once again, the Browns started fast, with Peyton Hillis gaining huge chunks of yardage and QB Seneca Wallace hitting a big 29-yard pass to Mohammad Massaquoi to set up a touchdown run by Hillis.
Outside of a 76-yard TD pass in the third quarter from Wallace to rookie WR Greg Little in the third quarter to give Cleveland a 17-7 lead, that was about it for the offense.
And for those Colt McCoy critics out there, today’s performance shows it’s the scheme, not the players, who make the team’s attack look putrid.
Since Pat Shurmur came to northern Ohio as an offensive coordinator, you have to wonder what kind of game plan he is putting together on a weekly basis, as the Browns had over 100 yards rushing and Wallace threw for over 200 more, and still Cleveland only scored 17 points.
They had no trouble moving the football, but just simply cannot get it into the end zone.
About the only negative stat you can come up with offensively is the 5 for 14 third down conversion rate. Arizona picked up first downs 8 times in 16 opportunities.
Defensively, Dick Jauron’s crew had four sacks, two each by rookie DE Jabaal Sheard and LB Chris Gocong, and an interception by rookie CB Buster Skrine, and held the Cards to just 74 yards rushing, and still lost.
The two big plays that killed Cleveland were Wallace’s fumble, which gave Arizona the ball on the CLE 5, and a pass to All Pro WR Larry Fitzgerald in overtime which set up the game winning score.
The final three points were set up by the Cardinals’ two playmakers, a 32-yard punt return by Patrick Peterson, and the aforementioned pass to Fitzgerald, who somehow was matched up against CB Dmitri Patterson, not Joe Haden.
Cleveland simply doesn’t have players like that.
It was looking good for the Browns after the TD pass to Little, and the subsequent pick by Skrine. After one first down, the offense couldn’t do anything else and punted the ball back to the Cards.
The defense gave up a relatively easy 11 play, 87 yard drive to get back in the game at 17-14. Arizona only had to face one third down situation on the drive, as the secondary gave up three plays of 20 yards or more. The drive took less than five minutes.
After Wallace coughed up the ball on the next drive, only a sack by Sheard and a good play by LBs Gocong and Titus Brown held the home team out of the end zone and kept the game tied.
Looking for good things, it was a good day to be a Cleveland rookie today. Besides Sheard’s two sacks and Skrine’s first career interception, Little wound up with five catches for 131 yards. S Eric Hagg had four tackles too.
As for the quarterback play, which everyone was interested in after McCoy’s injury, Wallace wound up hitting on 18 of 31 throws for 226 yards and a touchdown. These are similar numbers to those McCoy puts up weekly except Wallace’s turnover was the fumble, instead of an interception.
One other player deserves mention, and that is LB Kuluka Maiava, who had seven tackles, and was a big part of the reason Beanie Wells was held to 51 yards on the game. Maiava had struggled since subbing for Scott Fujita the past couple of weeks.
Just two games remain for this team before the season mercifully ends. They will send Christmas Eve in Baltimore taking on the Ravens. Based on the way things have gone, football fans can expect Santa Shurmur to leave a lump of coal in their stockings.