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Jeff Phelps’ Thoughts On The Browns Loss To Baltimore

By Jeff Phelps - Cleveland's Talking Heads
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Free safety Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens catches an interception intended for wide receiver Travis Benjamin #80 of the Cleveland Browns during the second half  / (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Free safety Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens catches an interception intended for wide receiver Travis Benjamin #80 of the Cleveland Browns during the second half / (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

JeffPhelps_300x300 Jeff Phelps
Jeff Phelps is the co-host of "Cavaliers Live," the Cavaliers pregame...
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1st Quarter

Good to see Phil Taylor back on the field. Also good to see him getting into an extracurricular activity on his first drive of the season. Attitude isn’t always a bad thing.

Not being able to stop the run is always a bad thing. The Ravens score on an opening drive for the first time this season, because Ray Rice ran for 32 yards and scored on an eight yard run. 7-0 Ravens.

Pass interference just called on Josh Gordon. Two things here: #1 – may be the worst call I’ve seen all season. #2 – it may be the most animated I’ve ever seen Pat Shurmur on the sidelines! Pat fired up! My guess is it can’t do anything but help his team. Also looks like Pat has a spiffy new haircut.

Now Rice’s backup, Bernard Pierce, is running through the Browns defense. This is not a good sign.

And now, Pierce gets his first NFL touchdown. Ravens with 83 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the ground in the first quarter. I did mention earlier that this isn’t a goo d sign, didn’t I? 14-0 Ravens after the first quarter.

2nd Quarter

Still waiting for our first Jimmy Haslam shot of the day. My guess is that once we get our first, we’ll get five or six more before the game is finished. Jimmy’s not shy. I like that.

CBS analyst Rich Gannon just broke down a pass play, where Brandon Weeden completely missed throwing to a wide open tight end crossing over the middle, with plenty of wide open field in front of him. Gannon says he’s seeing indecision from Weeden, several plays where he should have thrown the ball, or thrown it sooner, and instead he’s a bit hesitant or just plain slow. Interesting.

Now Gannon says of Weeden, “he’s going to get his backs killed.” Says Weeden is slow reading through his progressions, and should be getting the ball to his outlet receivers – in this case it was Trent Richardson – sooner. Gannon – “Weeden has to play better.”

Despite Gannon’s concerns, Browns move the ball thanks to the running game and get a field goal. Richardson has been terrific – 8 carries for 51 yards early in the 2nd quarter. 14-3 Ravens.

I keep trying to figure out who Trent Richardson reminds me of, and I can’t nail it yet. I see a little bit of Earl Campbell, but in a smaller package – physical, tough, doesn’t avoid contact. Problem there is Campbell lasted 8 seasons, was really good in only 5 of them, and now, at the age of 57, is a broken-down, physical mess.

Gannon – “Weeden is taking way too long to find his open receivers down the field.”

Browns get another field goal from Phil Dawson, his 20th straight field goal without a miss. Marv Albert just said that Dawson is 14 of 14 in his career against the Ravens in the Cleveland. As I’ve mentioned before, he’s the best kicker in the NFL, and no one outside of Cleveland knows it. 14-6 Ravens.

Gannon is all over Weeden, and when CBS shows the replays, you can see why. Weeden is consistently not throwing to open receivers, instead, looking for other options. That said, Weeden and the Browns are moving the football. They get another field goal. At the half, Ravens lead 14-9. What looked like a serious blowout-in-the-making, is a game at halftime.

3rd Quarter

Gannon – “I don’t want to pick on the quarterback, but this is getting ridiculous!” Again, replays show Weeden missing an extremely open receiver. Next play, interception. Just a hunch here: Rich Gannon – not a Brandon Weeden fan.

SInce the first two Baltimore drives of the game, the Browns defense has been outstanding. Ray Rice had 32 yards in the first drive – only 35 more through the end of the 3rd quarter. It’s 14-12 Ravens after three.

4th Quarter

Gannon has had a few nice things to say about Weeden in the 2nd half. Maybe Brandon’s mom called the both. Or maybe Haslam sent Gannon a nasty note.

First Jimmy Haslam shot of the game!!! It comes at 8:58 of the 4th quarter, showing Jimmy reacting in disgust after a formation penalty on the Browns brought back a Weeden to Josh Gordon touchdown pass. Instead, the Browns get the lead on the 5th Phil Dawson field goal of the game (see previous point about best kicker in the NFL). 15-14 Browns. Now can the defense continue stopping the Ravens offense when it matters most?

And the answer is…. NO! How a defense can shut a team down for such a big portion of the game, then cave in the clutch, has always been one of my “Top 7 Wonders of the Athletic World.” Don’t ask me what the other six may be – no clue. Ravens put together a 10 play, 81 yard drive with Joe Flacco throwing a touchdown pass to Torrey Smith. How? Why? Does Art Modell still have pull? Can Weeden and the offense defy the Rich Gannon hex?

On 3rd and 5, as Gannon points out, the Browns run a three yard route. Brings up 4th down a 2, Browns go for it, and Weeden air mails a pass intended for Greg Little. Our number at 92.3 The Fan to bitch about this sequence Monday on “Baskin & Phelps” – 216-578-0092.

Ravens get the ball back, at the Browns 28, with 3:50 to play. Browns had two timeouts. The second guessing on this one will last two weeks, thanks to the bye. Won’t that be fun.

No shots of Haslam in his suite. Perhaps he’s receiving medical attention after the previous sequence.

A 25-15 loss sends the Browns into the bye week with a record of 2-7. A win would have put the Browns at 3-6, with three wins in the last four games. Terrible decision making in the 4th quarter. In the Indianapolis game, Shurmur punted on a 4th down near midfield, thinking his defense would hold and get the ball back. Today, similar situation, different call — even though the ball was in Browns territory. And the 4th down decision came after a questionable play call on 3rd and short. Jimmy Haslam is on the record as saying that there will be no major changes during the season. The ugly 4th quarter sequence may have him thinking differently.

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