I have a lot of mixed feelings when it comes to this game. I’m not sure whether to be upset, excited, sad, or relatively happy. And I say that because, for the third straight game, the Cleveland Browns have managed to hang with one of the better teams in the league. On one hand, that’s something to be excited about. On the other hand, however, a fumble by wide receiver Chansi Stuckey in overtime might have cost the Browns the game.
Stuckey’s fumble would have given the Browns a first down at the fringe of field goal territory, so it was no guarantee that the Browns would have scored, but a turnover ends that possibility altogether. Either way, one has to be impressed with the way this team is playing. The Browns are suddenly not only competitive, but taking the best teams in the league to the brink of defeat, and throwing some of them over. Naturally, Browns fans will be upset that the Browns couldn’t close this one out in overtime, but there’s certainly nothing to be ashamed about as this young team continues to improve.
And now, some observations regarding the Browns’ 26-20 loss to the New York Jets:
- It might be time to start getting just a weeee bit excited about quarterback Colt McCoy’s future with the Cleveland Browns. McCoy went 18-31 for 205 yards and a touchdown, but more importantly he engineered a game-tying touchdown drive in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter and looked poised throughout the entire game. I understand that this is only three starts into an NFL career, but it’s been a while since a young player looked so good in a Browns uniform so fast.
- Sometimes you think, “Man, the defense has been out there the whole game!” when, in reality, you’re just saying that out of bubbling frustration during a long drive. In this game, that pretty much happened. The Jets offense was on the field for over 47 minutes, and around 23 of the second-half’s 30 minutes. Yet, the Browns defense continued to build on recent weeks, often holding the Jets to field goal attempts or nothing at all. Even when the Jets’ first two drives started in Browns’ territory, the defense kept the game from getting out of control early. A lot of credit has to be given to this unit, even after losing linebacker Scott Fujita and cornerback Sheldon Brown to injury.
- I can’t fault head coach Eric Mangini for attempting the win near the end of overtime by throwing downfield to tight end Ben Watson. What else could the Browns do? They were pinned within their own five yard line, and had to take that shot downfield. It didn’t work and the Jets defense was able to hold the Browns on the next two plays. Nothing more the Browns could do but punt and play for the tie.
- The biggest reason I can point to for the Browns demise in this one falls on the defense’ s inability to bring down Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. They managed to get pressure on Sanchez, but he apparently doused himself in baby oil before the game, because he was evading every onslaught and making impressive throws to boot.
- There’s not much more I can say about cornerback Eric Wright other than the guy is just having a rough year. He’s normally dependable, but this just isn’t his season and other teams are exploiting it. I would have suggested giving Joe Haden more playing time to spell Wright, but Sheldon Brown’s injury might give the rookie more time regardless.
This loss was frustrating for so many reasons, but it’s also a potential sign of the future, where the Browns will be in every game, maybe even competing for the division title (gasp!). Stuckey’s fumble, Sanchez’s baby-oiled self, and more will leave you talking to yourself throughout the week, but there is also plenty to be excited about. And, hey, the schedule gets a whole lot easier going forward.