Reporting Daryl Ruiter
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) - Well so much for that.
All that momentum – gone.
Up in smoke.
Just like the season which continues to go up in flames.
Coming off of their first win of the season, Jimmy Haslam taking over the team and promising no major changes until after the season, and taking on a beat up a Colts team that couldn’t stop anyone on the ground – until Sunday – the Browns let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers.
Rookie receiver Josh Gordon had a would-be go-ahead touchdown go through his hands in the end zone with a little under 7 minutes to play and the Browns lost – again – 17-13.
The drop overshadowed a solid day from the Browns’ rookie who continues to grow within the offense. He caught a beautiful 33-yard touchdown in the third quarter to bring the Browns within a point at 14-13.
It just was 1 of several self inflicted wounds on the afternoon.
The Browns committed 9 penalties for 75 yards – 3 big ones came on special teams which pinned the Browns deep in their own territory to start 3 drives.
Late in the second quarter, on a 4th and 1 from their own 23, everyone at Lucas oil Stadium knew Andrew Luck and the Colts would bluff – except rookie Billy Winn. He took the bait and jumped offside to give Indy a cheap first down.
It didn’t cost the Browns points but that’s the second time this season that has happened on 4th down and once again cost time and field position.
With Trent Richardson down, coach Pat Shurmur elected to run it just 8 other times. Richardson finished with 8 yards on 8 carries to go with 2 receptions for 11 yards.
The longest run of the day came from a 13 yard scramble by Weeden.
17 runs against 41 passes in a game that was a 1 possession affair.
That’s not how you win in the NFL – especially against a team that entered the day allowing 5 yards per carry.
Montario Hardesty ran 7 times for 28 yards in place of Richardson – a 4.0 yards per carry average but Shurmur elected to let Weeden keep slinging it.
The second year coach values running backs, which is why they keep 4 on the roster, yet he doesn’t use them.
Shurmur curiously changed his mind on 4th and 1 with 6:38 to play at the Colts’ 41 and decided to punt. After Shurmur sent in a play to go for it, Weeden saw the play clock running down so he burned a timeout to prevent a 4th and 6.
During that timeout Shurmur had second thoughts, went away from his gut feeling and then Reggie Hodges continued his banner day by kicking the ball out of bounds at the 20 when he was supposed to pin the Colts inside the 20.
Hodges also fumbled the snap on a PAT following Greg Little’s touchdown catch that would’ve tied the game at 7 in the first quarter.
They may need to shop for a new punter this week if Joe Banner lets them.
There were a few positives in the loss.
Weeden finished 25 of 41 for 225 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He didn’t throw a pick and spread the ball around nicely.
Little caught his second touchdown of the season – a juggling 14-yard grab in the back of the end zone.
After allowing back to back cross country voyages to Andrew Luck and the Colts that resulted in first half touchdowns, the defense tightened up and allowed just 3 points the rest of the way.
Indy punted 5 times following Luck’s second TD run.
Cornerback Sheldon Brown ripped the football from Luck to give the Browns an extra possession and Gordon the opportunity to drop the go-ahead TD in the 4th quarter.
The Browns fell to 0-4 this season in games decided by 7 or less and are 3-10 in those games under Shurmur.
Following the loss, Shurmur is now 5-18 overall as a head coach and all of that positive momentum went poof and right out of the open roof at Indy.
If this keeps up, Haslam’s decision whether or not to make more changes will be very easy at the end of the season.
It wouldn’t be surprising if his mind was made up Sunday in Indianapolis.