For the Cleveland Browns, it was die by the dropped pass last week, and live by the dropped pass today.
When you play a lot of close games, things like that can decide a football game.
Today, the Browns were the beneficiaries of San Diego WR Robert Meachem dropping a wide open throw from QB Philip Rivers early in the third quarter that would have given the Chargers a 10-7 lead. Since the Browns punted on every possession except their first, it likely would have put another one in the loss column for Cleveland.
Last week, of course, WR Josh Gordon dropped a perfect strike from Brandon Weeden that would have put Pat Shurmur’s crew up 20-17 in the fourth quarter. So, guess karma evened out today.
Besides the defense, which held San Diego to just two field goals on a truly miserable weather day, the star of the game was rookie RB Trent Richardson.
Many in the media implored the Browns to let the third overall pick in the draft sit out today and next week so he could heal his ribs through the bye week, and the coach kept telling everyone that T-Rich was getting better and better.
Score one in Shurmur’s column.
Richardson ran for a career high 122 yards in 24 carries, one of which resulted in the game’s only touchdown, a 26-yard jaunt in the first quarter. He also caught one pass for 12 more yards.
Besides the score, his fifth of the year, Richardson was featured in the key drive of the second half for the Browns, the one that changed the field position in the fourth quarter.
On a 3rd and 6 from the Cleveland 7, the rookie caught a pass in the flat for 12 yards allowing the Browns to have some breathing room and keep the football. After a pass to TE Benjamin Watson gained 14, three more carries for the former Alabama RB picked up 21 more yards.
That put the brown and orange at midfield, and when the Chargers finally stopped the Browns, it was Cleveland that was able to pin San Diego back to their own 15, making them go quite a way for a game winning field goal.
The Bolts’ moved to the Browns’ 44, but four straight incomplete passes later, Cleveland celebrated their second win of the year.
The game was very even statistically, with San Diego out gaining the Browns by 15 yards for the game. The Chargers committed the only turnover of the contest, but it didn’t figure in the scoring.
Again, the conditions on the field, steady rain and wind, made it difficult to generate a lot of offense, at least that’s what Shurmur said after the game, and we have no reason not to believe him.
A couple of other thought on the game…
One, why not throw the flat pass to Richardson more often? It seems to gain 10-12 yards every time is it used, and it gets T-Rich in the open field a little bit. That said, it was called at the perfect time today.
Second, Montario Hardesty showed why he can’t be counted on as he fumbled late in the fourth quarter after Richardson carried on three straight plays. You simply cannot lose the ball in that situation, and the coaching staff had to lose a little confidence in him going forward. This was the same problem he had during the pre-season.
And third, Josh Gordon looks like a #1 wide receiver in the making. He was held out of the end zone for the first time in four weeks, but caught three passes for 46 yards, including a big 26 yard catch and run in the second half.
Next week, another divisional game is on the docket with the Ravens visiting. They are coming off a bye week, a badly needed one after a hammering by the Texans and injuries to several key defenders.
The Browns continue to show improvement. Even at 2-6, they are getting better each and every week. That bodes well for rest of this season.