You would think that with all the losing the Cleveland Browns have done in the last 15 years that they would have exhausted every possible way to be defeated.
And then you would watch today’s game and think about how they’ve invented a new way to do it.
With almost 12 minutes to go in the game, the Browns led 21-20 and just received the ball back after a Jacksonville punt. The Jaguars were doing nothing, repeat, NOTHING on offense after intermission. It was an opportunity to run clock and move the ball down the field for another score and take control of the contest.
Except that Alex Mack, one of the Browns’ better players, a solid center, snapped the ball over Brandon Weeden’s head and when the quarterback kicked the ball out of the end zone (the right play), the Jags had the lead 22-21.
The resulting free kick was returned 31 yards to the Browns’ 43. A face mask penalty on NT Phil Taylor and one first down later, Josh Scobee kicked a 25 yard field goal and it was a four point advantage, 25-21.
On the Browns’ next offensive play, they regained the lead with a 95-yard completion from Weeden to Josh Gordon, who had another magnificent game, with 3:54 left to give Cleveland a 28-25 lead.
It seemed Rob Chudzinski’s squad might overcome the myriad of mistakes they made and win their fifth game of the year.
However, the Jaguars hit a big play on a 25-yard strike from Chad Henne to Ace Sanders to put them back in business and in Cleveland territory.
The defense stiffened at the 20-yard line and forced a third and nine after Henne was pressured and threw a flat pass over the head of Sanders.
But Joe Haden, the team’s best player, was burned on a double move by former Collinwood High School and Mount Union star Cecil Shorts III for a 20-yard TD catch and the Jags took a 32-28 lead with less than a minute remaining.
The Browns dropped to 4-8 with the loss and yet another 10 loss season appears very likely.
It’s one thing when mediocre, replaceable players are making mistakes to cost a team football games, but now it’s players like Mack, who has made a Pro Bowl, and Haden, who likely will make one this year, making bad plays an inopportune times to cause defeat.
Of course, it may not have come down to those plays if it weren’t for a horrible three-minute stretch at the end of the first half by their quarterback.
With the Browns leading 14-7 at that point, Weeden threw interceptions on consecutive plays, and then fumbled on the penultimate play of the half handing Jacksonville 13 points and a 20-14 advantage at intermission.
Those three turnovers, plus the safety (which is essentially a turnover) cost Cleveland 15 points. These problems are an extension of what occurred the last two games against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
The Browns’ defense caused just one turnover, and therein is the difference in the game. In the NFL, you simply can’t turn the ball over that many times and win.
As for the season, the names on the front office keep changing, but the record remains the same. Unless something unforeseen happens, another 1o loss season, the sixth consecutive one for the franchise, will happen.
Why should anyone have any confidence in the latest people to sit in the front office.
Three weeks ago, after a win over Baltimore, the future looked bright. Three weeks of turnover and mistake filled football changes everything.
The month of December will feel like an eternity to Browns’ fans all over the country.