We’ve pretty much run out of things to write about the Browns following Sunday’s 20-10 loss to the Ravens.
The team just doesn’t have enough talent yet to overcome four turnovers against a team headed to the playoffs.
“What killed us were the turnovers and the mistakes,” coach Eric Mangini said. “The Ravens are very difficult to beat when you play flawless football. When you turn the ball over as many times as we did, it makes it really, really difficult.”
Colt McCoy threw three interceptions, all on passes intended for Mohamed Massaquoi. It was nice to see McCoy throwing deep but he picked a bad day to have his worst game of the year.
“Turnovers killed us today and most of it is on me,” McCoy told The Plain Dealer. “I’ve got to fix that. I’ve got to take care of the ball and I’ve got to know where Ed Reed is. He read my eyes the whole game and made plays. As a quarterback, you have to go back and watch it. I’m going to play these guys for a long time.”
Even with the turnovers the Browns had chances in the game, but questionable play calling at the end of the first half and some bad luck at the start of the second half derailed them.
Trailing 13-7 the Browns had a first down at the Baltimore 13-yard line and holding two timeouts. But the coaches decided to play it safe, at one point letting 45 seconds run off the clock between plays, and eventually settled for a field goal. The Browns were hoping to score but not leave any time on the clock for the Ravens.
“Get the points that are available from our perspective and not give their offense, which is a really good offense, a chance to go down and score,” Mangini said in explaining the decision.
That seems pretty questionable. The Browns have trouble scoring points, any time they are in the red zone they should only be worrying about getting into the end zone; they can focus on the other team’s offense after they pull that off.
The Browns opened the second half by trying an onside kick, but the ball rolled out of bounds after about eight yards and the Ravens took over at the Cleveland 38-yard line. The coaches are being criticized for calling the play, but it was a good call as Joe Haden was in position to recover the kick, but unluckily the ball rolled out of bounds.
“It was a great call,” Dawson said. “When you’re playing to win, that’s the kind of call you make. The ball just didn’t bounce the way I wanted it to, that’s bad execution on my part.”
Sometimes even when you make the right call the ball just doesn’t bounce your way. It happens. Just because it didn’t work out doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good call at the right time.
After failing behind 20-10 the Browns kept fighting. McCoy had the team moving with about nine minutes left in the third quarter but the drive stalled when the Browns were called for the two penalties the Ravens accepted on the game.
First, McCoy hit Brian Robiskie with a 42-yard pass down to the Ravens’ 19-yard line, but Robiskie was called for a pass interference penalty that was dubious at best. John St. Clair followed with a holding call on the next play and suddenly the Browns faced 3rd-and-17 on their own 29.
And that was pretty much it for the game.
There were a few bright spots. Joe Haden grabbed his sixth interception, made five tackles, and recorded his first career sack and forced fumble. He also limited Anquan Boldin to two catches for 15 yards.
“My mission is every time I go out to try to lock down receivers no matter who it is or what they did to us before,” Haden said. “I just want to go out and don’t let people catch passes on me. When I’m in man-to-man coverage, don’t let them catch it. I knew he had a good game on us last game, so I came out with the whole mindset to lock him down or lock down whoever was in front of me.”
The Browns also were 7-of-11 on third down, after going 6-of-32 in their last three games.
And has happened all season, the winning team had praise for the Browns effort.
“This team over the last two years just keeps getting better and better,” said Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh. “This is a legitimate football team. How many close games have they played in? You just go down and look at the scores and you’re like, ‘oh my goodness.’ Then they dominate two of the best teams in the league — the Patriots and the Saints. We haven’t been able to do that this year against that kind of competition. This football team is really, really good. They may have their quarterback. I think they’re really well-coached on both sides of the ball and special teams. We knew what we were in for coming in.”
That has to count for something, yes?