So CloseBrowns Fail To Show Up In Arizona, Lose In Disappointing Fashion

In what can only be described as a pathetic performance, the Cleveland Browns fell to the Arizona Cardinals today by a score of 27-21. The Browns fell to 7-5 and are now back in the Wild Card pack and are tied with Tennessee for the #6 slot.

If you just looked at the yardage stats in this game, you might think the Browns won this game. I mentioned in my preview that turnovers would be the key. They were, just not in the way I thought they would be. The Browns turned the ball over 4 times, leading to 21 points for the Cardinals, while Arizona only gave up the ball once.

I don’t even know what to say about this game. It was disgraceful and disappointing. DA was throwing the ball into coverage all day, the Browns completely abandoned their running game, they commited stupid turnovers, and their special teams were outperformed by Arizona’s special teams. All in all, this was a tough game to take.

It started out looking pretty good. The Browns were moving the ball pretty nicely down the field, until DA threw an interception that was returned 71 yards for an Arizona TD.  On the 3rd play on the ensuing drive, DA fumbled the exchange on the Browns 46 yard line, and the Cardinals recovered. It looked like the Browns had made a big stop on 3rd down after forcing an incomplete pass, but Leigh Bodden inexplicably kicked the ball, causing a delay of game penalty and giving the Cardinals a 1st down. The Cards turned it into 7 more points and a quick 14-0 lead. Later in the game, Josh Cribbs would run into a teammate while trying to field a punt, and he muffed the ball, which Arizona recovered and again converted into 7 points.

The Browns never looked like they had much of an offensive game plan and they just kept making dumb mistake after dumb mistake. Playcalling wasn’t much better, either. Twice the Browns had a 3rd and 5 or less yards in the red zone, and both times DA threw the ball out of bounds in the end zone rather than just trying to pick up a first down. The Browns abandoned Jamal Lewis altogether in this game, until they got in the red zone when they suddenly decided to just run a bunch of dive plays.

That being said, there were still a couple positives in this game. First off, the defense played better again this week, at least for most of the game. They were helped by the absence of Larry Fitzgerald and the Anquan Boldin injury, but the pass defense was pretty decent again. Brandon McDonald had another nice game, including a key knock down on a 3rd down play in the 4th quarter. The Browns also had a nice goal line stand in the 4th quarter to hold Arizona to a field goal, keeping the game in reach.

The Browns did have a chance to win, and an argument could be made that they should have won. On the final play of the game, DA threw the ball up for K2, who made a great catch in the end zone, but was pushed out of bounds before he could come down. It’s an unreviewable play, and the ref on the field ruled him out of bounds. After having the luxury of reviewing the play in slow motion many times, I don’t know how you could say K2 wouldn’t have come down in bounds if he wasn’t pushed. In the NFL, if you are pushed out of bounds, the ref can use his discretion to award the player the catch, but alas, it wasn’t the case in this game. I know I should be more upset about it, but truth be told, the Browns had no business winning this game. It was a tough game to watch and was fully disheartening. The Browns must now go 3-1 in the last 4 games to finish at the 10-6 mark that I suspect it will take to get in the playoffs. I still like the Browns’ chances, but 3-1 sounds a lot tougher than 3-2 did. The Browns will need to regroup and come out with a much more focused effort next week in New York when they take on th Jets.