By Tony Grossi
Tony’s Take on the Browns’ 23-20 loss in overtime to the Dallas Cowboys
Offense: There was one squandered red zone opportunity in the first half, and then a lot of ugly in the second half. Brandon Weeden disputed that his throws sailed on him all day. Ben Watson had two TD catches – one between three defenders. You would have liked to have seen Trent Richardson carry the team to the win in the second half, but he was stopped in his tracks – 33 yards on 12 attempts, including a failed third-and-1 vault at the goal line. Greg Little made three really fine catches for 53 yards. Shout-out to the offensive line, which had a good game. Bottom line: Worse than the defense in closing out a game.
Defense: Some very disparate things went on. The line dominated (four of the team’s seven sacks), especially after Dallas left tackle Tyron Smith left with an ankle injury. The secondary had a long day again without Joe Haden. Buster Skrine was physical with Dez Bryant, but was called for three penalties. Sheldon Brown had two penalties and was pushed off on a Bryant TD. T.J. Ward had two penalties. After Skrine suffered a concussion, the game ended with the Browns trying to defend a pass-happy Tony Romo with Brown, Trevin Wade and Johnson Bademosi at cornerback. Bryant wound up with 145 yards receiving on 12 catches. Bottom line: Couldn’t get the one key turnover to wrest away the win.
Special teams: Josh Cribbs had two punt returns for 41 yards. Both set up the Browns’ only touchdowns. Cribbs also lost a fumble on a kickoff, but it was reversed on replay. Punter Reggie Hodges dueled Brian Moorman to a draw. Phil Dawson extended his consecutive made streak on field goals to 25 – 19 in a row this year. Two penalties on returns hurt. Bottom line: Fear of Cribbs resulted in five Dallas punts kicked out of bounds.
Coaching: From the Dallas 6, Pat Shurmur ran a play just before the two-minute warning. Would’ve been better to let the clock run there. Then came the Richardson failed vault on third-and-1 and the errant lob for Jordan Cameron on fourth-and-1. Of course, they came back to take the lead with a TD less than a minute later. Otherwise, overall play-selection and game management was hard to fault. If Richardson has a better second half, the game is salted away on the ground – as it should. Bottom line: Another victory slipped away.
|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 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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