EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Browns' 41-27 loss at MetLife Stadium was more than just another Sunday spanking for the men in orange helmets.
It wasn't a step back, it was a flop. It was a game in which the Giants amassed 503 yards on offense and easily could have placed 50 points on the scoreboard. It was a game in which the Browns led, 14-0, in the first quarter, and yet were being blown out in the fourth.
The Browns had absolutely no pass rush. Giants quarterback Eli Manning must have felt as if he were playing touch football in the school parking lot where the Browns had to count "One Mississippi ... Two Mississippi ... Three ..." It was up to a dozen of those Mississippi's before they were allowed to make a move. He wasn't sacked and hit only once while completing 25 of 37 passes.
Then again, Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for a career high 200 yards. It was that bad.
So the pass rush was invisible, the run defense deplorable. But the secondary was even worse.
Keep in mind the Giants entered this game without two of their better receivers -- Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden. Victor Cruz entered with a team-leading 32 catches. Maybe you'd want to cover him near the goal line? Not the Browns, as Cruz caught three touchdown passes -- and was wide open on two.
When I insist the Giants could have scored whatever they needed to keep remain comfortable, consider how many times they were forced to punt -- two.
Confession time: I didn't expect the Browns to beat the defending Super Bowl champs. But I also didn't expect them to jump to a 14-0 lead five minutes in. Early in the second quarter, the Browns were in front 17-7, and looked like they had something resembling an NFL offense.
That's when I made a mistake. That's when I began to think, "The Browns may make this a very interesting afternoon."
Then it all fell apart.
In the final 3:46 of the first half, the Giants scored 17 points. Seven set up by a terrible interception by Brandon Weeden. Seven provided by a fumbled kickoff by Josh Cribbs. Three created by a Browns 3-and-out (featuring two offensive penalties), followed by a punt and a Buster Skrine pass interference penalty.
By halftime, New York was in front, 27-17, and the Browns trudged off the field with that "What happened?" stare on their faces.
Browns fans were probably thinking, "Here we go again."
Weeden called the late half collapse "the worst" stretch of football this season. That's saying something when a team has a 0-5 record, and has lost 11 in a row dating back to last season.
There were some good things, such as Josh Gordon snaring a 62-yard rifle shot from Weeden for a TD in the first quarter. It was one of those dream plays for coaches. Gordon lined up as a slot receiver and was covered by Chase Blackburn. The University of Akron product is a bruising linebacker, but not quick enough to deal with Gordon in a downfield sprint.
Gordon also grabbed a 20-yarder from Weeden for another touchdown, this one in the fourth quarter. Those two catches showed the big-play receiver that General Manager Tom Heckert imagined when making Gordon a surprising second-round pick in second round of the supplemental draft.
Then there was Trent Richardson romping 15 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. He had 81 yards on 17 carries, and also caught four passes. The Giants defense entered the game with one goal: Shut down Richardson. The Browns rookie earned every inch of those yards.
Weeden made two horrible throws that led to interceptions. One was in the end zone. The aforementioned Mr. Blackburn had Ben Watson smothered. Weeden threw it any way -- right into the arms of the former Zips star.
But I still see real talent in Weeden, who was 22 of 35 for 291 yards. The offense is showing signs of growth with Richardson, Weeden and Gordon. The line also prevented Weeden from being sacked.
But there were 10 penalties.
The defense is in severe regression from that quick group who forced Philadelphia into five turnovers in the opening 17-16 loss to the Eagles. Sunday, D'Qwell Jackson, Dimitri Patterson and Ahytba Rubin all left with injuries. Rubin and Jackson are perhaps the unit's two best players. I'm not counting Joe Haden, because the defensive back was serving his fourth game of a suspension for flunking a drug test, and his absence is felt in so many ways.
The 14-point loss was the biggest of the year for Browns. It's also one that makes you wonder what it will take for this team to finally win a game.
Dawg Pound Lounge ,
October 8, 2012 12:58 pm
Haslam syas he wont make changes until after the season . my gut tells me that Shurmur will be gone at the by week . he will have no choice but to send this Tard packing after the Browns quit on him after head scratching losses and play calls .