If the Cleveland Browns pulled a victory out of their collective rear ends last week on the road against Baltimore, today was probably the gods of fate evening things out, as Cleveland dropped to 2-4 on the season with an overtime loss to the Denver Broncos 26-23.
Denver out gained Cleveland 442 to 298, so it would appear the Broncos dominated the game, but it was several mistakes by Mike Pettine’s team, including one by Pettine himself, that cost the Browns the contest.
Josh McCown was the reigning AFC offensive player of the week, but he made two colossal errors to aid Denver’s cause.
The first was a pick six by Aquib Talib on the second play of the second quarter. McCown was looking for Travis Benjamin on a short pass to the sideline and apparently never saw the Denver cornerback, who stepped in front of Benjamin and went 63 yards for a score to make it 10-0 Broncos.
The second was with the game tied at 23-23 with a minute to go in regulation with the ball in Denver territory. McCown was trying to throw the ball away, we guess, and instead was picked off by David Bruton on the 31 yard line.
Instead of having a chance to win, Cleveland had to sweat out a final drive by Peyton Manning.
The coach’s mistake was chasing points.
After Karlos Dansby picked off Manning and returned the ball 35 yards for a TD to give the home team a 20-16 lead, Pettine decided to go for two.
We are sure there is some idiotic chart that says to do that, but there was really no point there. If the Browns converted, they would have a 22-16 lead, one that still would have been erased by a Denver touchdown.
And to the people saying they would have went for two after a TD, why would they? It would have been 23-21 with a kick and a field goal would have still tied the game.
And those people are assuming the Broncos would have made it, which the Browns didn’t. That point haunts the Browns in a game that went to overtime.
Last, but not least, the horrific run defense came back to rear its ugly head. Jim O’Neil’s unit gave up 152 yards on the ground again, including 34 on the game winning drive in OT.
Ronnie Hillman wound up with 111 yards on 20 carries, his second effort of that type this season, but in that one (vs. Minnesota) he had a 72-yard run.
The defense also continued its annoying practice of not being able to protect a lead.
After Dansby’s pick gave Cleveland a
five, four point lead, it took the Broncos just one, that’s right just one play to take the lead back after a 75-yard strike from Manning to Demaryius Thomas.
You cannot be a winning football team if you cannot hold leads.
What is particularly troubling is that this is Pettine’s supposed area of expertise. Here’s hoping Pettine isn’t becoming like his mentor, Rex Ryan, who seems more and more to be good at talking, but not so good at results.
Barkevious Mingo had an interception in overtime which gave the Browns a short field they couldn’t capitalize on. Last week, he batted a pass away near the goal line.
The guy may not be worth the sixth overall pick, but he is an athletic freak, and we would like to know why the coaching staff can’t find a way to use him.
Travis Benjamin continues to impress, grabbing 9 passes for 117 yards. Maybe the Browns have a #1 wide out on their roster after all.
The three running back (Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson, and Robert Turbin) combined for 99 yards on 30 carries, a solid day on the ground. Hopefully, that’s an area of the team that will continue to improve.
Now it’s on to St. Louis for a date next Sunday with the Rams.
The Cleveland Browns can’t make many mistakes if they want to win football games. They made too many today to get it done.