Sunday, October 23, 2011

Just how ugly was it?

If football coaches on all levels all around the nation want to show their players how not to play the game, here’s a suggestion. Get a copy of Sunday’s Browns-Seattle Seahawks game and show it to them.

The ineptitude both teams displayed for three ugly, embarrassing, torturous and exasperating hours did nothing to further the game of football. It was enough to turn the staunchest fan into a baseball lover.

Even though the Browns won, 6-3, this was one three-hour block of life most fans would want back. Tapes of this one must be destroyed immediately, if not sooner. Suffice it so say the Pro Football Hall of Fame will not clamor to get its hands on them.

It was so far beyond ugly, there isn’t a word in the English language that would adequately describe it. It was really that bad.

The only things missing were leather helmets, no facemasks, high-top shoes and placekickers who kicked straight on instead of soccer style. It was a throwback game by accident.

The Browns put up their robust six points while owning the football for nearly 43 minutes. Imagine that. Forty-three minutes of possession with only a pair of plus-50-yard Phil Dawson field goals to show for it.

If the Browns feel proud of themselves with this outcome, shame on them. This was a victory nowhere near being worthy of pride.

It was a war of attrition between two very, very bad football teams. The pitiful displays of offense did nothing to enhance the National Football League’s reputation for presenting good football.

It prompted Fox Sports commentator Jim Mora Jr. to tell play-by-play guy Ron Pitts, “Ronnie, this is the worst offensive performance I’ve seen in a long time.” Statements like that are usually reserved for when the microphone is turned off.

Mora unquestionably was speaking to – and on behalf of – the myriad Seattle and Cleveland fans who tuned in to what turned out to be arguably the sorriest game of the season. It’s a wonder fans didn’t storm the box office after the game and demand their money back.

Some will argue it was an afternoon for the defenses. Nonsense. This was an afternoon where the offenses were so bad, it enabled good defenses to look a lot greater than they actually were.

Neither team ran the ball well. And neither threw the ball with any authority. The only time either team saw the end zone was when Seattle’s Leon Washington returned a Brad Maynard punt 81 yards for a touchdown with about seven minutes left in the third quarter.

And befitting the afternoon, it was called back by a cheesy, ticky-tack illegal-block-in-the-back penalty on Kennard Cox of the Seahawks. Cox barely touched James Dockery of the Browns, who performed the flop of the game, drawing yellow laundry. It would have made a soccer player envious.

The Seahawks’ best offensive weapon was punter Jon Ryan, who averaged 50 yards on seven kicks. He constantly kicked the Browns close to their goal line.

How bad was this game? It was so bad . . .

• Browns running back Montario Hardesty ran the ball 33 times for 95 yards. That’s less than three yards a pop.

• Joshua Cribbs ran back four punts for 14 yards and one kickoff for 23 yards. So much for that offensive weapon.

• Dawson had two field-goal attempts blocked by Seattle defensive end Red Bryant. Blame Oneil Cousins on the first and Jason Pinkston on the second.

• The Cleveland running game racked up 141 yards, but it took 44 attempts to reach that total. Forty-four!!

• The closest the Browns got to the Seattle goal line was late in the fourth quarter when they reached the 6-yard line only to watch Bryant block another field-goal attempt.

• Both teams consistently shot themselves relentlessly in just about every place on their body with terrible play selection and worse execution. If there was a mistake to be made, like Murphy’s Law, it was made.

• The Browns reached the red zone only twice, including taking over on downs late in the game, and the Seahawks managed just one trip.

Fans didn’t know it at the time, but they were given a sneak preview of what was to come with the first two possessions of the game.

The Seahawks began the game’s opening drive from their 14. Eight plays, two first downs and three penalties later, they were on their 26 and punting. Eight plays equal 12 net yards.

The Browns reciprocated by starting their first drive from their 16 and wound up punting from the nine after a three-and-out that featured a holding penalty on right tackle Tony Pashos. Three plays net negative seven yards.

And it didn’t get much better from there. The Browns were extremely fortunate the Seahawks were that much worse. It was really a game neither team deserved to win.

If the afternoon proved anything, it showed the Browns they have a partner when it comes to offensive ineptitude. It was almost like playing against a mirror image. Both teams came into the game among the lowest scoring teams in their respective conferences, then proceeded to show why.

At the end of the game, as Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur approached Seattle coach Pete Carroll for the post-game handshake at midfield, he had an almost apologetic look on his face and a shrug in his shoulders as he extended his hand. And well he should have.

It was as if to say, “Sorry we couldn’t have given you a better game.” Carroll could have responded in kind. And both men would have been correct.

So here we are six games into the season and the Browns are 3-3, but playing like a team that very well should be 1-5. They have not played well enough to be .500 at this juncture and yet, here they are.

Lest they get full of themselves, this might be a good time to remind the Browns they travel next Sunday to San Francisco and the following Sunday to Houston. Word is those guys are pretty good. Quite unlike the Seattle Seahawks.

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