The Browns still have just one win this season, but at least we made a game of it Sunday against the red hot San Diego Chargers. We lost by a touchdown against a Team that has won 7 straight games, leads its division and has become invincible in the month of December.
The game made some history as LT scored his 150th touchdown and rushed for enough yards to vault him ahead of Cleveland Browns’ legend, Jim Brown (who was at the game), to eighth place overall in NFL rushing history. LT reached the 150 TDs mark faster than anyone else ever has.
The Browns, however, did not quit. We outscored San Diego 16-3 in the fourth quarter to pull within one score with about a minute or so left on the clock. A look at the scoring breakdown over the four quarters shows, unfortunately, that we remain very inconsistent. We scored in just two quarters – the first and third. The bolts, by comparison, scored in every quarter (as most playoff teams usually do). In any event, we showed a little grit despite major injury problems. And, rather surprisingly, we outplayed the Chargers in several areas including first downs, third down efficiency, net yards rushing, red zone efficiency and time of possession. The major differences came in passing yards (130 more for the Chargers), penalties (4 times as many for Cleveland) and turnovers (none for San Diego and 1 fumble for the Browns).
Quinn played decent in that he threw no picks and completed better than half of his passes. Although he was sacked twice, he showed better poise in the pocket than he has at other times this year. He also found ways to spread the football around among several receivers: Robiskie (who finally got involved in the offense with four catches), Moore, Harrison, Massaquoi, Cribbs, Vickers and Jennings, and to throw touchdown passes. Take away the lost fumble by Quinn, and his overall stats last Sunday are nothing to be embarassed about considering the numbers for Rivers, whom many (including Michael Lombardi) think ought to be considered in the running for the League’s MVP.
We desperately need to find ways to become more explosive. Our offensive plays are too conservative. They have been all year. For example, against the bolts, our average gain per passing play was barely over 5 yards, compared to the Chargers at more than 14 yards. We welcome Robiskie becoming involved, along with Massaquoi, but their combined 6 receptions against San Diego were for a total of under 100 yards. We need to take some more chances downfield.
We face one of our biggest rivals this coming Thursday evening on NFL Network – the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers were humiliated by the lowly Raiders on Sunday, at Heinz Field, which defeat likely spells the end of any playoff hopes for the world champs. It would be awfully sweet to kick them when they are down.
On another note, what is happening with the Holmgren front these days? It has been terribly quiet for a while now. Daboll should have been axed several games ago. He does not deserve to stay until the end of the season, even if just to send a message. Ryan we like, notwithstanding the pathetic performance of the defense in certain contests this year. Mangini will be gone. Get moving, Randy. The threat of blackouts will not diffuse no matter how many extensions the Team is granted to sell the seats.
Go Browns! A win against Pitts could make this whole season much more palatable.