Monday, November 30, 2015

Ripley would not have believed this one

The Browns have lost any number of games in truly bizarre fashion since the return in 1999, but none as strange as Monday night’s 33-27 loss to the visiting Baltimore Ravens.

Not even close.

What happened to the Browns against the Ravens is the football equivalent of the winning run in a baseball game scoring on a balk in that it happens as often as, well, almost never.

It takes more than a mere jog of the memory to remember the last time a blocked field goal with no time left in regulation turned into what ESPN play-by-play man Mike Tirico called a kick 6.

What else could he call it after Baltimore safety Will Hill picked up defensive lineman Brent Urban’s block of a 51-yard field goal attempt by Travis Coons and returned it untouched 64 yards down the left sideline for the winning score as the crowd, sensing a come-from-behind victory moments earlier, was stunned silent.

The moment was set up by the Browns and Ravens turning the last 107 seconds of the game into a multi episode version of Mystery Theater after the Browns tied the game at 27-27 when Austin Davis hooked up with Travis Benjamin on a 42-yard scoring pass.

In that short span of time, which took at least actual 20 minutes to play with both teams trading and squandering opportunities to win the game, each team had two possessions.

The Ravens went three and out in 24 seconds. Momentum Cleveland. The Browns returned the favor with a three and out that took 27 seconds off the clock. Momentum swing back to Baltimore.

With 56 seconds left, Cleveland cornerback Tramon Williams picked off Baltimore quarterback Matt Schaub on the first play, setting up the offense at the Ravens’ 46-yard line with two timeouts left. Big-time momentum swing for Cleveland.

Perfect situation for Davis, who played well after starter Josh McCown went down with a collarbone injury with about eight minutes left in regulation. All the offense needed to do was get near Coons’ comfort zone of the 30-yard line.

But an apparent communications problem with the Cleveland sideline left Coons three yards shy of that zone after a six-yard pass to Brian Hartline and a Davis seven-yard scramble moved the ball to the Baltimore 33 with eight seconds left.

The drive started with 50 seconds left and the Browns, again perhaps of bad communication with Davis, allowed precious seconds to tick off while running just two plays. And rather than attempting a quick pass with eight seconds left to get closer to the 30, they opted for a Duke Johnson run up the middle that was stuffed.

Four possessions that ended with a hard-to-believe conclusion in a game played by 
two National Football League teams headed nowhere. If nothing else, they put on arguably the most entertaining game of the Monday Night Football season.

That obviously doesn’t make the Browns, who now have further proof they are the most star-crossed team in the NFL, feel any better. Just when you think you’ve seen everything, something like this comes along.

When the 6-7 Urban stuck up his left paw and deflected the ball toward the sideline, the last thing on the Browns’ minds was a touchdown. They were probably thinking the second overtime game with the Ravens this season loomed.

Normally, it is easy to pin any Browns loss on the offense and defense, often times both. The Cleveland offense played in fits and starts against the Ravens, racking 20:39 in time of possession in the first half, but logged just 9:42 in TOP in the second half.

Late in the first half, for example, the offense marched 60 yards, thanks mainly to a 30-yard hookup with Gary Barnidge, and found itself at the Ravens’ 3 with 18 seconds left. Three straight incomplete passes brought Coons on for a 21-yard field goal.

The defense played its usual sloppy tackling game, allowing the Ravens to continually gain valuable extra yardage and failed time and again to come up with big plays. Outside of Karlos Dansby’s pick 6 that gave the Browns their only lead of the game (20-17) early in the third quarter, it was bad tackling, especially after initial contact.

They had several opportunities to flip the field after an Andy Lee punt landed inside the Baltimore 1 late in the third quarter, but couldn’t get off the field for the next eight minutes as the Ravens went 82 yards in 17 plays, converting four third downs and a fourth down en route to a Justin Tucker 35-yard field goal.

The special teams, which rarely have fingers of guilt pointed their way, share a major portion of the blame for this loss. They gave up an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter by Ravens wide receiver Kalien Clay; enabled the Ravens to begin a drive at their 40 that ended in a touchdown three plays later in the second quarter following a short Coons kickoff; and the blocked kick.

McCown, who threw for 212 yards before departing, completed his only touchdown pass of the game with 4:36 left in the first half in a most unorthodox manner.

The quarterback, took a second-and-goal snap at the Baltimore 10, scanned three zones from right to left, ran the ball toward the line of scrimmage then stopped, reversed his field, looked right again before running left and throwing against his body as he hit Marlon Moore heading toward the left pylon.

It was just another unusual moment in a game filled with them. Having two of the NFL worst records, it seems, does not preclude these two teams from putting on an entertaining show. The two games between these teams this season produced 123 points.

Unfortunately for Browns Nation, the latest one did not contain a happy ending as the Browns’ losing streak reaches six games and eliminates any possibility of finishing anywhere but the AFC North basement..


  1. Probably more information ... and detail ... than what anyone requires about the Cleveland Browns. The story is the front office now ... and what happens next. ( sigh ... ) ...

  2. Sorry, unk. I have a tendency to overwrite. Can't help myself.

  3. So Rich, do you think Davis deserves a crack at the starting job to see what he has, or are you still in favor of putting Johnny PantsOnFire out there? Frankly I'd like to see Davis just to get his name added to that QB-list jersey!


  4. Hi DW,

    Check out the latest Monday leftovers. OK, yes, I think he might be as good as, if not better than, Manziel and deserves at least a look-see the remainder of the season.