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Jeff Phelps Sifts Through Browns’ OT Loss At Dallas

By JEFF PHELPS, Cleveland's Talking Heads, Weekdays 10am-2pm on 92.3 The Fan
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Victory was just out of the reach of the Browns' hands Sunday in Dallas - and all season long / (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Victory was just out of the reach of the Browns’ hands Sunday in Dallas – and all season long / (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

JeffPhelps_300x300 Jeff Phelps
Jeff Phelps is the co-host of "Cavaliers Live," the Cavaliers pregame...
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Thoughts as I watch the Browns play the Cowboys in Texas….

1st Quarter

Browns win the toss and defer. They kick to the Cowboys. And the second guessing for today begins before the game even starts. Outstanding!

CBS analyst Dan Dierdorf on Cowboys tight end Jason Witten: “For a big man he has such soft, supple hands.” Really, more than I ever needed to know about Jason Witten.

At 8:41 of the first quarter, our first shot of new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam. Joe Banner is with him. Orange tie for Haslam. Shocker.

Odd, but Mike Holmgren wasn’t sitting with Jimmy Joe (that’s code for Haslam and Banner). Again, shocker. Perhaps he’s sitting with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Great start for Brandon Weeden. Makes a nice throw to Benjamin Watson for a TD on the Browns second possession. First touchdown for the Browns in eight quarters. Hey Joe Banner, are you paying attention? (We’re certainly assuming the answer is yes). Looking like Weeden wants to be your quarterback of the future. 7-0 Browns.

Browns offense is operating briskly – so briskly CBS had to cut short a graphic on Emmitt Smith and Trent Richardson, and on the next play, had to cut out of a replay of Josh Gordon’s juggling catch. Guess they streamlined those offensive communication issues during the bye week.

Why is it called a “Bye Week?” Bye means “the transfer of a competitor directly to the next round of a competition in the absence of an assigned opponent.” The Browns are still in the regular season, not the playoffs. They didn’t advance to the next round. It’s not a bye. It’s a week off. My new crusade (other than a retractable roof on the stadium, of course) – no more bye week. Just a week off.

2nd quarter

Phil Dawson with his 24th consecutive field goal, longest current streak in the NFL. Have I mentioned, he’s the best kicker in the league? I think I have. A lot.

Brandon Weeden is wearing a plastic shield on his helmet, covering his eyes and nose. Bet it’s retractable. Bet it’s a statement of support for my cause.

Dawson its yet another field goal. Cast those Pro Bowl ballots now. That’s assuming the league hasn’t cancelled it yet. As it should. 13-0 Browns.

Joe Haden is out. Buster Skrine is giving a clinic on the different types of pass interference that can be called on a defensive back. Being fast is nice. Good coverage is better.

Browns defense has had a fabulous half, other than Buster Skrine. Zero points for Dallas in the first half. Young Browns have been terrific – Billy Wynn, John Hughes, Craig Robertson. If Tom Heckert isn’t smiling, he should be. Hey Jimmy Joe! Please keep Heckert. Please. 13-0 Browns at half.

3rd Quarter

Bad combination – Browns offense looking a bit conservative, and the Cowboys defense looking a bit more aggressive. It’s 13-3 Browns heading to the 4th quarter.

4th Quarter

Browns defense finally gives up a touchdown. Felix Jones runs it in for Dallas. This game is starting to look like so many other Browns games this season. Play pretty well all game, only to not put it away at the end. Hope I’m wrong but it doesn’t feel good right now. 13-10 Browns.

Why is it that in the 4th quarter, Brando Weeden turns into Mike Phipps? Weeden just tossed an awful ball from deep in his own territory. It should have been intercepted and returned for a score. Until Weeden starts making positive plays on a regular basis in the 4th quarter, Jimmy and Joe are going to keep wondering whether or not they have their quarterback. And they should.

Well, we know Tony Romo can make plays in the 4th quarter. Great pass to Dez Bryant in the end zone to give the Cowboys a 17-13 lead. Excuse me, Mr. Quarterback-of-the-future? You’re up. Go win a game.

So much for that idea. Mr. 4th Quarter fumbles, deep in his own territory. Every time I think Weeden could be the long-term answer at QB for the Browns, the game reaches the 4th quarter, and I started thinking of Matt Barkley.

Hold the phone! Frostee Rucker, strips Romo, Browns recover. Matt Barkley who? Is that Charles’ nephew? Brandon Weeden – prove you’re the man!!!

Nice passes to Greg Little and Josh Gordon. Weeden 3-for-3 on the drive. Impressive. Then again, it’s not over.

Browns move it to the one. 4th and goal. Shurmur makes the right call and goes for the win. And…. Mr. 4th Quarter throws to a covered Jordan Cameron, but throws it so poorly that the ball goes out of the end zone anyway. No shot for a score, even if Cameron were able to catch it. Brandon my boy, I want you to be The Man. I really do. In the name of Otto Graham, please make a play that wins a game for your team. Great job on the drive. But if you don’t finish it off with the score, it doesn’t matter. And Jimmy Joe is watching.

The heck with Matt Barkley!! Weeden makes a play!!! Great pass to Watson for a touchdown, after the Browns defense has a great series, forces a punt, and the Browns get 15 more yards on a bogus horse collar call. The defense did the job, and Mr. 4th Quarter makes a play. Nice! And about time. 20-17 Browns with 1:07 left.

Always amazes me. A defense that plays so well for most of a game, becomes a sieve when a game is on the line. After stinking most of the game, the Cowboys offense goes 66 yards in eight plays for a field goal. Overtime, tied at 20. Browns outscored 20-7 in the second half.

Overtime

Nice defense for the Browns forces a punt. Offense with a 3-and-out, a punt that leads to good field position for the Cowboys. Seven plays and 28 yards later, field goal, and a loss for the Browns. 23-20 the final.

Must admit, I’m perplexed. Another game the Browns had every chance to win, and yet, they can’t get it done. Again. Is it that Pat Shurmur gets everything he can out of some young talent (but not enough overall talent) and they just don’t have the horses to finish off the win? Or is it that Shurmur can’t coach winning football?

In all honesty, I don’t know. I can make an argument either way, but I’m not sure what it is. Here’s hoping Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner have a better read on it than I do, because either way – keep Shurmur for next season or make a change – it’s essential they make the right move. Good luck with this one Jimmy Joe. If I had to wager, my money says they decide it’s time for a new head coach.

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