It is important to know the difference between right and wrong. It is why we begin teaching the concept to children when they are toddlers. Unfortunately, the referees officiating the Browns game this past Sunday against the Ravens clearly need a refresher course, so let me help: Right: a holding call on the Ravens during the Browns’ final drive of the game on the play where McCown beautifully connects with Pryor on the Ravens’ 10-yard line for a first down with 21 seconds left and the Browns down 20 to 25. Wrong: a taunting call on Terrelle Pryor on the same play where Pryor absolutely, under no circumstances, actually taunted anyone. Right: the Browns on the Ravens’ 10-yard line with 4 more attempts to score a touchdown and 21 seconds remaining. Wrong: what actually happened, i.e., the referees screwing the Browns out of a legitimate chance to regain the lead and beat the Ravens.
Now that I got that out of my system, here’s what else went right and wrong during the Browns game this past Sunday:
Isaiah Crowell. His best play was his 85-yard touchdown run on the Browns’ second possession, but he ran well the rest of the game too, accumulating 148 yards of offense. In the past, some folks have criticized Crowell’s speed, but on his touchdown run, he clocked in at almost 22 mph, making it the fastest TD run by any NFL rusher so far this season. What else am I liking from Crowell this season? He appears to be running much smarter, waiting for holes to develop more patiently and then running with power and without hesitation through those gaps. I hope to see Hue Jackson utilize both Crowell and Duke Johnson more this coming weekend, and given the injury to Josh McCown, I am optimistic my wish will come true.
Corey Coleman. He scored two touchdowns in his Dawg Pound debut. Yes, the rookie also made some rookie mistakes. He stepped out of bounds prior to what would have been a great catch and first down during the Browns’ second possession of the second half. And, after a beautiful 47-yard completion, he allowed himself to be baited by the Ravens defense on the next play and took a huge penalty that effectively ended what could have been a scoring drive for the Browns. Those mistakes aside, Coleman showed off every element of his talent last Sunday–his ability to contest on deep throws, his speed and agility with the ball after the catch, and his grit in fighting over the goal line on his second touchdown. Unfortunately, he broke his hand in practice today, so Browns fans won’t get to see their dynamic rookie for the next few weeks.
Joe Haden. He is looking more and more like the Pro-Bowler we loved. He was involved in the run game, at times taking on defensive lineman almost twice his size. Then on the Ravens second possession, he came up with a huge interception. He wasn’t perfect, but he always immediately made up for his mistakes. After giving up a touchdown to Mike Wallace before halftime, he had a batted pass. In the second half, after a penalty for illegal contact, he intercepted Flacco a second time. All in all, I am excited to watch Haden continue to play better each week.
Also: DemarioDavis continued to be a reliable veteran, flying sideline to sideline to stop the run. Also, Danny Shelton, Emmanuel Ogbah, Derrick Kindred, and Christian Kirksey all continued to show really nice growth and improvement in their second game of the season. (Although one area where Kirksey still needs to improve is dropping into coverage, especially with the lack of depth the Browns currently have at defensive back.)
Special Teams. Ogbah’s one downfall on Sunday was missing the block that allowed the Ravens to bat down the PAT after the Browns’ third touchdown and run it back for their first two points of the game. A Raven also got a hand on Patrick Murray’s only field goal attempt, which kept the Browns from scoring three points. Also, Ricardo Louis is super fast getting downfield on kickoffs and punts, but someone has got to teach the kid to tackle. There’s very little point in getting to Devin Hester first, if you can’t keep him from taking off and showing us all why he is the best return man in NFL history.
Cam Erving. And I hate to pile on when it is clear now that Erving was suffering from a pulmonary contusion for at least part, if not all, of Sunday’s game. But on 4th and 2 in the first half, his false start forced the Browns to punt, instead of giving the offense the chance to extend the drive. Then, in the second half, his illegal trip downfield cost the Browns a crucial first down (on a spectacular catch by Rashard Higgins). I know the kid is young, was injured, and has great athletic potential, but at some point, we are going to need to see a lot of improvement in the mental side of his game.
Also: Jamar Taylor and his horrible miss of Mike Wallace in the end zone, and Jordan Poyer and his inconsistent play that has carried over from last season.
And again: The referees who repeatedly missed holding calls on the Ravens’ offensive line, who allowed three Ravens players to jump all over an injured Josh McCown after he gave himself up, and… oh yeah… DID I MENTION THE CRAP TAUNTING CALL ON PRYOR?
Wrong. Wrong. WRONG.