|Blame game: Browns share fault for loss against Steelers|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 12 November 2007 13:12|
Coach Romeo Crennel even pointed a critical finger at himself following a kick-in-the-gut loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Win as a team. Lose as a team. Suffer as a team.
The Browns had a potentially monumental victory in their grasp. And let it slip away.
With a chance to end the Steelers' eight-game winning streak against them, with a chance to move into a tie for first in the AFC North, and with a chance to legitimize themselves as a playoff contender, the Browns collapsed.
``We could have won the game,'' Crennel said. ``If we play better, we win the game.''
Following Sunday's 31-28 heartbreaker, which ended with Phil Dawson's game-tying, 52-yard field goal attempt falling a few tantalizing feet short, the Browns (5-4), who led 21-6 in the second quarter, shared responsibility for not putting the Steelers (7-2) away.
McGinest apologized for not bringing down Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on a crucial third-down run in the fourth. Edwards regretted not being able to make a big play. Cribbs, who returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and had a 90-yarder to set up a TD, just wanted one more chance.
And Crennel accepted responsibility for wasting two timeouts to challenge Pittsburgh's final touchdown.
The Browns, who managed just 16 yards of offense on 17 plays in the second half before their final drive, accepted defeat as one.
``We're a team,'' Crennel said Monday. ``It's never one person's fault, it's everybody - coaches, players and everybody else.''
Not far from where the Ohio, Monogahela and Allegheny Rivers collide, a confluence of unfortunate events late in the game did in the Browns, beginning with Roethlisberger's 2-yard TD pass to tight end Heath Miller with 3:13 left.
That score put the Steelers ahead 31-24, but before Pittsburgh could kick the extra point, an unidentified Browns player - Crennel said he did not know whom - called a timeout. Seconds later, Crennel, going on the advice of T.J. McCreight, the club's player personnel director and replay consultant in the press box, decided to challenge the second-down TD.
However, TV replays showed Miller held onto the ball and the call was upheld, meaning the Browns had lost two timeouts, vital stops they needed badly on their final, futile drive in the closing moments.
Crennel won a replay challenge in the first half, when a catch by Edwards in the end zone that was initially ruled out of bounds was reversed for Cleveland's third TD, giving the Browns a 15-point lead.
On the ill-fated second challenge, Crennel said the Browns had already called time when he tossed his red flag - a Terrible Towel for the Browns.
``We challenged it even though we called the timeout,'' said Crennel, who gave his players off Monday. ``I chose to challenge it which cost us the timeouts there. It was a scoring play and if it had been overturned, it would have been worth it. You mix some of those judgments in at the time, if you think it's worth it or not. Generally on scoring plays, it might be worth it.''
This time, it wasn't.
Without any way to stop the clock, quarterback Derek Anderson had to resort to spiking the ball. He did it three times, the last after a 3-yard completion to wide receiver Joe Jurevicius, who was injured following a hard tackle by Troy Polamalu and couldn't run on the final play before Dawson's kick.
Replay challenges have not been Crennel's strength. He's just 1-for-6 this season and 2-for-21 in three with Cleveland.
Near the end of his 30-minute news conference, the good-natured Crennel became irritated at a barrage of questions about his record in challenges and whether he would adjust it during the future.
``The thing that I can do is get the network replay and put it in my coaches booth,'' he said sarcastically. ``All the things they look at - I don't know how many (TV) feeds they have, three or four - if I had all four of them in my coaches booth and my coaches were able to see it, then I would be right. A lot.''
Notes: The Browns, who visit Baltimore next Sunday, reported no major injuries. ... Jurevicius, Edwards and Kellen Winslow refused to speak following the game and were not available Monday. ... OG Seth McKinney, placed on injured reserve on Saturday, is deciding when and where to have surgery on his separated shoulder, Crennel said. ... Ryan Tucker, normally a tackle, replaced McKinney and made his first start at guard in 10 years. ``He was not too bad,'' Crennel said.