By Tony Grossi
Extra Points …
The day after: More composed the day after several puzzling play-calls, rampant sideline confusion with substitutions, and a very questionable decision not to punt combined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against Baltimore, Browns coach Pat Shurmur calmly stated his case in front of the media firing line on Monday.
About halfway through the roughly 30-minute session, Shurmur was asked about the frustration of playing a quality team and rival basically to a draw, only to lose at the end.
“That’s where the mental toughness of the people involved comes into play,” Shurmur said. “You’ve got to be able to conquer your own mind in these situations. Gotta keep moving forward. That’s where the mental toughness comes in. You clean it up, make corrections … and when you make mistakes … or you look back and say, ‘You know what, I would have done this better.’ You have to be able to say that. You have to be able to say that.”
On to the explanations …
Those pass plays on third-and-1 in the first quarter: On the first one, Trent Richardson ran for nine yards on second down to set up “the longest yard” – third-and-1. Brandon Weeden checked down to fullback Alex Smith, who didn’t make the catch.
Shurmur: “All I would say is the first one they covered (the first option) and we threw a checkdown. We’ve got to catch it and get the yard. That’s feasible.”
On the second one, Richardson took a pass for nine yards on first down, then lost the ball on second down to set up third-and-1. The Browns lined up Richardson and Chris Ogbonnaya in the backfield, play-faked to Richardson and Weeden missed Ogbonnaya streaking behind a defender downfield. (Josh Gordon was called for interference away from the ball.)
Shurmur: “We have a guy running wide open down the boundary all alone. That might have been a touchdown, which would have been fun, huh? And then the next time you get a third-and-1, when you run it, things get a little looser. It all goes into it. If the defense knows you’re going to do one thing all the time, then the game gets very small. We need to do everything better.”
That third-and-11 draw play in the fourth quarter: After Ogbonnaya’s illegal formation penalty nullified a Weeden-to-Gordon TD pass, the Browns had third-and-11 at the Ravens’ 23. Out of the shotgun, a handoff to Richardson was stuffed by former Alabama teammate Courtney Upshaw for no gain.
Shurmur: “The reason I called the draw, we were at the top of the field goal range. A field goal there puts us ahead, 15-14. I did not want a holding call, a sack, or anything crazy that knocked us out of that situation. At that point in the game, a field goal puts us ahead. So that’s why I made that call.
“Now, we had a situation where we could’ve got some yardage. We saw Trent on that very same play score against the Bengals. That’s why I did it. Now, if the situation’s different. Maybe we take another crack at the end zone. (The Ravens) did legislate against it. They played pretty soft, which should have made … (the run effective).”
Burning timeouts three times because of failing to get the play called soon enough: This happened twice on the same possession in the second quarter, and once in third quarter after back-to-back false start penalties on Shawn Lauvao and John Greco.
Shurmur: “I can’t tell you exactly. I know exactly why. There were a couple situations getting the right people in the game, getting the play to the quarterback in a timely fashion and then him calling it properly. That’s the string of events. A couple times that didn’t get done. And I[m absolutely responsible. We’ll make changes here and I’ll streamline some of the things.”
That decision to go for it on fourth-and-2 from the Browns’ 28 in the fourth quarter: The Browns were down, 22-15. There was 3:50 to play. The Browns had two timeouts and the two-minute warning. Instead of punting, Weeden threw wildly for Greg Little. Baltimore took over and kicked a field goal to make it 25-15 about one minute later. Would he do it again?
Shurmur: “Well, what I would like us to do is execute, give them a better play and make it. I watched the game last night and the Giants punted in that situation and never saw the ball again. Being that we did get the ball back (down by 10 points a minute later), yeah, I’m … I would consider doing something different if I could guarantee getting the ball back.
“It’s pretty simple, the play we ran. We didn’t execute it very well. I’ve got to give them a better play, and we’ve got to make it. You’re talking about it being a gutsy call. Everybody did the right thing. We didn’t execute it. There were five receivers in the route. Got to do a better job.”
That’s his story and he’s sticking to it.
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