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Tony Grossi's Take: A game Trent Richardson failed to secure in the second half

Nov 18, 2012 -- 7:31pm

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

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

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi


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