But three quarters of solid play isn’t enough in the NFL, and sitting on a ten-point lead usually leads to more losses than wins. One would think that containing wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald to two catches for 33 yards would be a major component in the recipe for success. But add in his 32-yard catch in overtime that set up the game-winning field goal for the Cardinals, and you have all the evidence you need for why the Browns are now 4-10.
It’s too bad that Browns fans have to suffer as much as they do. With the last two games of the season pitting the Browns against the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s not inconceivable to think this team won’t win another game, putting their final record at 4-12.
Should that happen, games like Sunday’s against the Cardinals should be proof that this is a team on the rise. The defense is on the threshold of being dominant and, once the Browns bring in playmakers, the offense will begin to work towards respectability. It’s a long, tough road, but the right pieces are beginning to be put into place.
Here are some more notes following the Browns’ loss to the Cardinals:
- How much more evidence do you need that defensive end Jabaal Sheard is going to develop into a solid player? He registered two sacks against the Cardinals and was a force on the defensive line for most of the game.
- It was good to see wide receiver Greg Little bounce back after a tough couple of weeks and give his best performance of the season. He finished the day with five catches for 131 yards and a touchdown, with his longest catch being a 76-yarder on a great throw from quarterback Seneca Wallace.
- Are the words “quarterback competition” really already being thrown around in Cleveland? Like many quarterbacks of the past, Seneca Wallace was decent for a stretch of time, but couldn’t get it done when it counted. He is obviously not the answer at the position, that much is certain. The jury is still out on Colt McCoy, which is why he still needs a real chance.
- Running back Peyton Hillis looked like his old, dominating self on Sunday, accumulating 99 yards on 26 rushes with one touchdown. He also added one catch for nine yards. Re-signing Hillis can still be done and, if it’s affordable, it’s something that needs to happen.
- Head coach Pat Shurmur could – and should – be criticized for taking such a conservative approach to the end of the fourth quarter. With a little over a minute left and two timeouts, the Browns had the time to get into field goal position. Granted, the game was tied and the Browns were deep in their own zone (not to mention the offense had sputtered its way through the whole fourth quarter), but with a 4-9 team, Shurmur should have taken the chance to win the game in regulation.