|Browns kicking themselves for last-second loss in Oakland|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 24 September 2007 13:23|
In just 3 seconds, the Cleveland Browns went from blissful to bitter.
Sunday's game in Oakland came down to a final, nail-biting play, and when kicker Phil Dawson's 40-yard field-goal attempt was batted backward by Raiders defensive end Tommy Kelly, the Browns had lost 26-24.
On top of that, they missed a chance to win consecutive games for the first time in the same season since 2003 - an inconceivable span of 61 games.
The Black Hole swallowed the Browns whole.
``It hurts,'' wide receiver Braylon Edwards said Monday. ``I feel like we fought hard enough. We fought with enough fortitude and enough will and determination to win and then to not have it go through ... it hurts.''
What made it more deflating for the Browns (1-2) was that Dawson had kicked the apparent game-winner seconds earlier.
As Cleveland's field-goal unit lined up for Dawson's kick, Oakland coach Lane Kiffin, who one week earlier had watched Denver coach Mike Shanahan smartly and successfully ice Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski in a similar situation with a timeout, told an official he wanted to stop the clock before the attempt.
Unaware, the Browns went ahead with the play and the snap, hold and kick were perfect as Dawson split the uprights.
Forced to do it again, Dawson's attempt barely got off the McAfee Coliseum dirt as the Raiders' rush had collapsed Cleveland's protection.
Three years ago, the NFL decided to allow head coaches to call timeouts from the sideline.
Edwards wishes the league had let things be.
``That's a sucker rule because it really does mess with the kicker,'' he said. ``Obviously, two weeks in a row. It messed with Sebastian and it messed with Phil this week. I think that's a sucker rule.
``I'm not trying to say anything negative against NFL rules or (commissioner) Roger Goodell or anything, but I think it really affects the kicker, the protection and the emotion of the team. It's like playing with someone's emotions.
``We can't do anything about it. So we have to move forward and hope we don't get put in that situation again.''
Dawson didn't find any fault with the Raiders' gamesmanship.
``If they have timeouts left, they should have the right to call a timeout,'' he said.
And Ryan Pontbriand, who watched his long snap sail cleanly to the holder, offered a funny viewpoint.
``From an upside-down perspective,'' he said, ``everything looked good.''
The Browns, hoping to build off a 51-45 win over Cincinnati a week earlier, were their own worst enemy. They came out lifeless and their early mistakes - Cleveland was called for three penalties on its first drive - allowed the Raiders to open a 16-0 lead.
``Whatever the reasons were, we came out flat,'' said Edwards, who had four catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. ``Obviously it affected us in the first half, and by the time we woke up it was too late.''
Coach Romeo Crennel was more severe than usual in assessing his team's performance following the game. The long flight home soothed him some, but Crennel was discouraged by the Browns' overall effort.
``I don't think we played very well,'' he said. ``That's disappointing because you feel like you can get something done, make something happen and then when you don't play well it's disappointing. Even if we had won the game I would have been disappointed with the way that we played.''
Crennel, too, lamented the Browns' inability to get up for a team they matched up well against. Cleveland's talent is at least comparable to Oakland's, and Crennel felt that his players may have underestimated the Raiders.
Beating Cincinnati in a shootout may have given the Browns a false sense of security - and stature.
``Last week, one of the things I talked about was everybody would say that we can score 51 points a game and sometimes, guys believe that,'' he said. ``I think, maybe, we felt that we could score 51. You have to be ready to play everyone in the NFL. You can't just roll your hat out there and expect you're going to win just because you think you're good.
``You have to prove you're good on every play and every Sunday.''
Through three Sundays, Cleveland's defense couldn't be much worse.
The Browns have given up 11 TD passes and are ranked 31st overall in total defense, allowing 431 yards per game. By contrast, the New England Patriots - Crennel's former employer - are giving up just 207.
Cleveland can't stop the run, either, as teams are averaging 176 yards.
Crennel didn't start nose tackle Ted Washington on Sunday and hinted at other personnel changes.
``I'm really disappointed because I know you can't win in the NFL if you can't stop the run,'' he said.