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Analyzing the Game: Late Interception Proves Costly

How in the world did we lose to the Baltimore Ravens? I was very impressed with the effort the Browns gave Sunday, and even today, I'm still pleased with how the game went. It's still killing me inside that we did not pick up the victory, but the maturity of Charlie Frye was the key element of the 15-14 loss to the Ravens. Not to make any excuses, but the Browns have now already faced three teams that are 3-0. What prevented us from making one of those teams 2-1? Let's get to the breakdown of the Ravens vs. Browns game:

Weak Points(Why We Lost The Game)

  1. Goat of the Game: Joshua Cribbs. No one really blew this game, although you could make a case for our entire offensive line. Frye was under pressure all day long, but I'd prefer not to rank the group as a whole. Cribbs has not had success in his kick returns the past two weeks, and although he's quick on special teams coverage, he is making several mistakes in the unit. Not to mention he fumbled the ball in our final play of the game, killing any miracle chance that we had.
  2. Offensive Line: I didn't expect anything better against the Ravens' defense, but Frye could have been hurt worse than Chris Simms with a couple more shots. Frye was getting drilled all day long, and it finally cost him on an interception intended for Braylon Edwards with just over three minutes to play.
  3. Vickers Running Out of Bounds: On the near-final drive when Frye threw the screen to Vickers, the play worked very well. However, after watching the replay over and over, it's pretty clear that he ran out of bounds with no one ahead of him for at least ten more yards.
  4. Sean Jones' Dropped Interception: If Jones makes the interception, which was not deflected by Todd Heap at all, it probably would have gone for seven and sealed the game. To his credit though, Jones played well all day long.
  5. Wide Receiver Screens: You know that play, where we throw it really quick to the wide receiver at the line of scrimmage? Although it works well sometimes, it's not the right call to begin the game in my opinion. For our first drive, our offense didn't show anything significant. Luckily, Frye played a great game after that.
  6. Lack of a Run Game: I definitely applaud the decision to abandoned the run and let Frye pass it most of the game. Even on the play to Edwards that got picked, I agree with the decision to throw and not run. We weren't having success on the ground all day long, and we would've been settling for three points with a field goal. Our defense was getting tired, and we wanted to put a dagger in the Ravens. However, if we had a better ground game heading into the game, we may have been able to attempt runs at the end, which makes this a weak point.
  7. Winslow's Taunt: Although the call was somewhat picky by the referees, you can't argue it too much. Winslow has to realize that he'll be flagged for those type of things; you can't just hit a player in their helmet after making a catch.
Strong Points(Why We Were In Game)
  1. Player of the Game: Charlie Frye. From taking hits, throwing the deep ball to Edwards, or throwing across his body to Winslow on the run, Frye had a great game. He had the right idea on the interception he threw, and it would have gone for a touchdown or deflection had he not been hit.
  2. Receiving Unit: Edwards, Winslow, and Dennis Northcutt all deserve credit for making plays on the football and having yards after the catch. All three of them showed up, and for the first time in awhile, we saw Northcutt show the shiftiness that made him so good as a slot receiver. I can't wait for Joe Jurevicius to come back.
  3. Matt Stewart's Stuff: After the Browns stuffed Jamal Lewis on fourth-and-1.5, the entire stadium and team were pumped up. It was almost the same feeling we got when the Browns stuffed Warrick Dunn at the goal line a couple of years ago, allowing us to go to the playoffs under Butch Davis.
  4. Leigh Bodden: As long as Bodden continues his solid coverage, he'll have his name mentioned as a strength every week. However, it's actually becoming a weakness in a way. His coverage is so good, that opposing quarterbacks are just picking on our less talented corners. Daven Holley didn't do bad in my opinion, but Steve McNair attacked him all day long and the Ravens' receivers made some nifty catches.
  5. Substitutions: With Reuben Droughns, Gary Baxter, and Orpheus Roye out, the substitutes held their own. Simon Fraser played well in particular, making more of an impact than Alvin McKinley has this season.
  6. Sticking With the Pass: The decision by Maurice Carthon to throw the ball early and allow that to be the focus of the offense led to our success. You can argue the last play call on the interception all you want, but I still applaud the aggressiveness. Overall, if was definitely his best game called of the preseason and regular season.
We're 0-3, but there's light ahead as we are finally facing a team that has a loss at least. The Raiders have pretty much been deemed the worst team in football, but remember, we lost to the Houston Texans last year when they hadn't won a game yet. Oakland's defense isn't going to be easy to walk all over, but Frye will have less pressure on him. Our defense should force several turnovers on a Raiders offense that has scored only three points through two games. The first win shouldn't be far away, but nothing is ever for sure in the NFL - except the fact that Terrell Owens will have controversy following him wherever he goes.