There is plenty of blame to go around in Cleveland’s latest underwhelming performance but most of the blame has to go on Shurmur.
The Browns came out hot on offense and horribly flat on defense. The Colts scored touchdowns on their first two possessions, both coming on Andrew Luck scrambles.
Brandon Weeden and the Cleveland offense tried to keep pace. After the half, Weeden led a six play, 80-yard TD drive that brought the Browns within one.
But it was miscues in the fourth quarter that will have Browns fans breathing fire.
It all began when Luck was sacked, fumbling the ball at the 50-yardline. The Browns recovered, trailing 17-13. Weeden moved the offense to the Indy 41 and faced a 4th and 1 with just under seven minutes to go. Shurmur sent his offense out as if they were going to get the first down. He then inexplicably called a timeout and then punted the ball away.
The Browns defense managed to force an Indy punt and Cleveland took over once again on their own 31 with over four minutes remaining. Weeden moved the team back to the Indy 43 before tossing a bomb to Josh Gordon, who had his man beat. It was the same throw and catch we’ve seen Gordon make two weeks in a row only this time he let the ball bounce out of his hands.
Next, Shurmur decided to call a draw with Montario Hardesty. Hardesty gained four yards and so the Browns faced a third and six. With just over two and a half minutes remaining and the clock still running, Shurmur had the Browns huddle up! By the time Weeden snapped the ball, the clock had gone under two minutes. Weeden’s pass was incomplete and the Browns lost plenty of precious seconds, as well as the two-minute warning. Cleveland failed to convert the fourth down pass and thus turned the ball over to Indy with only two timeouts and just under two minutes remaining.
Indy then proceeded to run out most of the clock. The Browns did get the ball back with only one second left but it was too little, too late.
Like I said, there is plenty of blame to go around. The defense was bad in the first half but they tightened up and gave the offense multiple chances in the second half. Gordon may have had a drop but he also had a beautiful TD catch earlier in the game.
But in the end the loss falls on Shurmur. His terrible game-management and failure to go for it on fourth and one while in Indy territory, trailing, late in the fourth quarter is a glaring reason why the Browns came away with a loss today.
Other game notes:
-Trent Richardson left the game after eight carries for eight yards. He was wearing a flak jacket but his bruised ribs must have still been bothering him.
-The Browns mostly abandoned the run after Richardson left the game. They ran only 17 times on the day, despite facing a porous Indy run defense. Take away the one Weeden scramble and the Browns only called eight runs after Richardson came out of the game.