By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Extra Points …
Whole lot of weirdness: The Browns’ visit to Cincinnati on Sunday had all the makings of an instant classic – and it devolved into a bizarre day of weird occurrences.
Consider the following in the Browns’ 41-20 loss to the Bengals:
* In the second quarter, the Browns possessed the ball for 11 minutes, 18 seconds compared to the Bengals’ 3:42. And the Bengals outscored the Browns, 31-0.
* The Bengals blocked two punts (one officially is recorded as deflected because it went forward). They scored on a blocked punt and a fumble return. The Browns had never in history given up both in the same game, much less the same quarter.
* The Bengals also had an interception by James Harrison returned for a touchdown, but the touchdown was disallowed because of a Cincinnati illegal block penalty.
* The Bengals scored 41 points despite receiving personal game worsts from quarterback Andy Dalton (93 yards passing) and receiver A.J. Green (two catches for seven yards).
* The Browns’ defense had season-bests (by far) in third-down conversions (1 of 14), total yards (224) and passing yards (118).
“As I look at it, there were a lot of things that happened that are atypical,” said coach Rob Chudzinski. “So it was less about a snowball and more about some things happening that were out of the ordinary.
Punt breakdowns: So how does an NFL team have two punts blocked in a game?
On the first one, the Bengals ran a stunt to the right of long snapper Christian Yount. Yount’s snap was off the mark and took punter Spencer Lanning one step to his right, moving him closer to Cincinnati rusher Shawn Williams.
“The first one’s on me,” Yount said. “Going into my third year, I’ve got to recognize that stuff and be able to notice the fronts and just be better. We call it a pick twist. I set to the right. (Cincinnati’s Cedric) Peerman came and kind of picked my shoulders and turned me around and they had a looper. It hasn’t been an issue before. The snap wasn’t where it needed to be, but if we pick up the stunt it’s not an issue. It’s one of those things where it’s just a perfect storm.”
The breakdown on the second one – the full block – came on the right side of the Browns’ protection. Cincinnati rusher Jayson DiManche split right tackle Eric Martin and wingman Barkevious Mingo, and eluded the block of upback Chris Ogbonnaya.
Part of the problem is that the Browns have continually shuffled their special teams units because of roster changes and injuries. The recent injury to special teams captain Quentin Groves had a minor domino effect on the punt block team.
“It was very disappointing, unacceptable,” Chudzinski said. “It has been a strength for us this season. Uncharacteristic. We had two major breakdowns there. I think we’ll get that corrected.”
By the way, it was not the first time the Browns have had two punts blocked or deflected in a game. It happened in a 34-0 loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City in 1990.
When it rains, it pours: Running back Bobby Rainey, who spent the first six games on the Browns’ roster after being claimed off waivers from Baltimore at the final roster cutdown in September, has become a fantasy league sensation.
Rainey was released by the Browns on Oct. 18 and picked up a few days later by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Injuries to Doug Martin and Mike James elevated Rainey into game action.
In his first game, Rainey scored the go-ahead touchdown in Tampa Bay’s first season win over Miami. On Sunday, Rainey took over as the feature back and rushed 30 times for 163 yards and two touchdowns. He added a third touchdown on a short reception.
So in two games, Rainey has 208 rushing yards and four touchdowns and has averaged 5.4 yards a carry. Meanwhile, the Browns’ run game is puttering around at a 3.8 clip.
“We’d love to have him here and I’m glad he’s doing well,” Chudzinski said. “Where we were at with the roster the time, we were short at some other positions and just had to make some moves.”
On Oct. 18, the Browns released Rainey and placed safety Josh Aubrey on injured reserve. At the same time, they elevated from their practice squad receiver Tori Gurley and defensive back Julian Posey.
Gurley and Posey were subsequently waived and re-signed. Since the Rainey release, the Browns signed running back Jamain Cook to their practice squad.
Scary landing: The Browns raced out of Paul Brown Stadium after Sunday’s game to beat severe weather and return home on their scheduled flight, rather than bus home.
Everything went fine until a bumpy landing at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. An air pocket caused the plane to bounce and tilt to one side before the pilot successfully completed the landing.
Some players were terrified more than others.
“I didn’t think it was that bad,” said tight end Jordan Cameron. “Some guys were calling their moms afterwards.”
“I’ve been part of some sketchy landings, and that was interesting,” said Yount. “The pilot did a good job and we’re here now.”
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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