CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Welcome to Cleveland, John Dorsey.
The Browns’ new general manager got a front row seat to what the last 29 games, and last 19 years have been like in Cleveland Sunday. No one does collapses quite like the Browns do and Dorsey got to see it first hand as he sat next to Jimmy Haslam in the owner’s suite at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Up 14 in the fourth quarter only to be outscored 20-0 and lose to Green Bay 27-21.
They just ran out of gas.
Through 3 quarters things were going so well for DeShone Kizer and the Browns too.
“When you get close to that, it hurts a little bit,” Kizer said.
Kizer had completed 17 of 22 passes for 191 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception – that came on a deep ball late in the first half. Kizer would complete 3 of his final 6 pass attempts in the fourth quarter and overtime, but also throw a costly interception in OT that set up Green Bay’s game-winning TD.
“It hurts,” Kizer said. “Obviously, when you start tasting a little victory throughout the game, you start riding that and you start remembering all of the things that go into winning, and how it all is about getting toward that win. When you don’t get to that at the end of the game, it hurts.”
Running back Isaiah Crowell had 103 yards on 13 carries but was only able to churn out 18 yards on 6 carries down the stretch. With 10:19 left in the fourth Crowell lost his footing on a third-and-2 that was perfectly blocked and would’ve netted a first down had he been able to stay on his feet.
Josh Gordon was held without a catch in the second half and overtime thanks to solid man coverage from Packers cornerback Damarious Randall. Corey Coleman’s 2-yard touchdown to make it a 21-7 game with 2:49 to play in the third quarter was his last grab of the afternoon as well.
Tight end David Njoku thought he had a third down conversion on third-and-4 from the Cleveland 37 on a 7-yard reception at the 44 with 2:57 on the clock in the fourth. But Packers head coach Mike McCarthy thought otherwise and successfully challenged the call. Replays showed the football slip through his grasp and the nose of the ball touch the ground as he went down.
“I thought I caught it. That’s it,” Njoku said.
Packers receiver Trevor Davis promptly fielded the ensuing punt and weaved his way through Chris Tabor’s special teams unit – bolting 65 yards all the way down to the Browns 25 putting the first victory of the season in serious jeopardy.
The Browns appeared to catch a break when replay took a touchdown off the board and marked Packers quarterback Brett Hundley down inside the 1-yard line. A 10-second runoff by rule after the review left just 23 ticks left. Hundley needed just 6 of them as he found receiver Davante Adams for the 1-yard score and Mason Crosby’s PAT forced overtime.
Another loss seemed inevitable even with Cleveland winning the coin toss and getting the football to start OT.
Clay Matthews Jr. gave Cleveland flashbacks of his father when he worked his way around Cleveland’s offensive line to get a hand on Kizer’s right arm as the rookie from Notre Dame moved to his left and released the ball, throwing across his body. It went straight up in the air and right into the arms of safety Josh Jones, who was among the sea of Packers to converge on the play.
Kizer was trying to get the ball to wide receiver Rashard Higgins, who was wide open for a possible game-winning TD.
“Yeah, I think that you strike up the band there and enjoy our first win of this year,” Kizer said.
“I thought that was the best version of us as a football team — offensively, defensively and special teams — up until the fourth quarter, when we need it the most,” head coach Hue Jackson said. “That is what we have to do. We have to finish it. We have to find a way. Our guys are playing hard. They are doing exactly what we ask them to do, but we have to find a way to finish it.”
Hundley found Adams for 5 on a third-and-2 and then again on third-and-6 for the game winner. Adams made a pair of Browns miss and then strolled 25 yards to the endzone, up the tunnel and straight to the locker room.
“You’re right there, you can taste it,” cornerback Jason McCourty said. “It definitely hurts more.”
It was yet another kick to the gut for a Browns team that has won once the last 29 times they’ve taken the field.
“Right now, everyone feels sick to their stomach,” guard Joel Bitonio said. “Every loss is tough, but this one leaves you feeling sick. I don’t know how else to explain it.”
Dorsey didn’t bolt after the game either.
He sat in a corner of the locker room for a few minutes while players conducted postgame interviews before approaching Kizer and offering him some words of encouragement.
“To be reassured that the guys in the locker room with you have your back is always a good thing,” Kizer said.
There isn’t much else Dorsey can do right now until the offseason begins.
Welcome to Cleveland, where losing is the only tradition the sleeping giant has left and 1-15 would actually be an accomplishment.