It is good to be upset at losing today’s heart-breaker to the Jets 26-20 in overtime. That’s what real fans of real NFL teams feel after losing a game like this. I was really disappointed just like the rest of you. So I am glad that you feel that way. Then again, if that negativity carries over into Monday, after the game the Browns played today, I think you should be ashamed of yourself.
The Browns played an incredibly gutty game today against the Jets. They survived early injuries to Sheldon Brown, Scott Fujita and Josh Cribbs to find a way to tie it in the fourth quarter. They survived a 10-minute, 19-play, 65-yard drive by the Jets to open the third quarter. They got lucky that Nick Folk missed the 24 yard field goal at the end of that drive. The Browns defense deserves acclaim for finding a way to get off the field on the ensuing drive too after the Browns’ offense couldn’t manage anything more than a three and out. The Browns defense was on the field for almost 13 minutes of the third quarter. They were bruised and battered, yet somehow they looked the Jets in the face time and again and basically told them that they wouldn’t be able to put the game out of reach on this day.
The Browns shot themselves in the foot with turnovers. Hillis lost another fumble (4th overall and 2nd in two weeks) even if it didn’t cost the Browns any points. Chansi Stuckey fumbled in overtime as the Browns were nearing field goal range. The Browns know they can’t commit turnovers and they need to take care of the ball better. Still, isn’t there a little part of you that feels like it is just bad luck to some extent? Both fumbles happened on plays where the ball-carrier was desperately fighting for extra yardage. Additionally, the Browns even found a way to get the ball back after Stuckey’s fumble in overtime.
Ultimately, I know the Browns came up short, but this is the point.
The Browns lost this game as a team today. They also overcame a ton of adversity in somehow finding a way to tie it on an inspiring drive with just under a minute to play in regulation. Isn’t that worth something? Even in a loss, I say emphatically “Yes!”
The Browns were out-manned stepping onto the field today in terms of overall talent. That was before they were decimated by injuries in the first half. And yet this team found a way to tie it. They had chances to win in overtime before finally succumbing to an improbable touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes. It was a breakdown and you would have liked to see the Browns force Nick Folk into kicking a field goal on a day where he missed three.
Yes, you should be disappointed in the loss, but you should also be extremely proud. You should be proud of this team’s unwillingness to quit. You should be proud of rookies Colt McCoy and Joe Haden who made big-time plays that gave the team a chance to win late. You should be proud of Peyton Hillis for facing the adversity of fumbling and still going for 82 yards and a touchdown against a very good defense. You should be proud of Ben Watson for being a sure-handed target all day and in the clutch. You should be proud of Massaquoi for finding a way to get open for the game-tying touchdown against some of the best corners in the league.
Today it wasn’t good enough against one of the top five best teams in the NFL. It wasn’t good enough in the third straight game of playing top five teams. You know what, though? The Browns went 2-1 in this stretch, and arguably the best of the three teams, the Jets, needed almost all of 80 minutes to figure out how to defeat the Browns. The Browns never played not to lose and tried to win it up to the very last minute of the game. They gave it everything and left absolutely everything they had out on the field for themselves, their coaches and most importantly us.
It wasn’t good enough this time. It is always difficult to come up short, but it doesn’t make you a bad fan to have a little bit of pride in this team even in a week where they lose. The Browns shouldn’t hang their heads long as they prepare for a winnable game next week against Jacksonville. After this stretch of games versus New Orleans, New England and New York, the Browns know that they can compete with absolutely anybody in the NFL. Anyone.
As always we will have much more about this game throughout the week.
(In case anyone out there cares, the chosen soundtrack while I was writing this post after the tough loss was a band called Silent Drive and their album Love is Worth It.)