Well, that was a huge disappointment.
The game started off as good as Browns fans could have imagined. New quarterback Jake Delhomme connected with Mohamed Massaquoi on a 41-yard score in the first quarter. After the Buccaneers added a 49-yard field goal, the Browns started going to work with Jerome Harrison and Peyton Hillis on the ground. After a 39-yard burst by Harrison, Hillis finished the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run.
The defense was dominating Tampa Bay in the first half, and the Browns were driving again with under a minute to play. On a first down play, Delhomme inexplicably threw the football toward the sideline as he was being tackled to the ground. The ball landed right in the hands of cornerback Ronde Barber, who returned the pass all the way down to the 3-yard line. On the first play, Josh Freeman's pass to Mike Williams went right into the hands of Sheldon Brown, but the ball bounced high into the air and was hauled back in by Williams. What could have easily been a 17-3 lead for the Browns headed into halftime was suddenly a 14-10 lead.
Delhomme and company seemed to regroup to begin the second half though, as Delhomme connected on passes of 49- and 16-yards to tight end Evan Moore. Just when the Browns were looking to re-take a two possession lead, Hillis fumbled and the Browns turned the ball over again.
Overall, the Browns' defense did a great job stopping the Buccaneers. The offense couldn't move the ball again though and were consistently starting backed up in our own territory. Eventually, Tampa Bay finally connected on a score to receiver Michael Spurlock, with rookie Joe Haden in coverage. That gave Tampa Bay a 17-14 advantage with under seven minutes to play.
The offense couldn't muster anything else though, and for a game in which the Browns should have won, they lost. Credit goes to Tampa Bay for taking advantage of Cleveland's mistakes, but I still believe the better team lost today.
Next up, the Browns take on the Kansas City Chiefs at home. I don't have a problem with the Browns' playcalling to begin the game, but there should have been more emphasis on the run. For a game in which the Browns were leading most of the game and only lost by three points, there's no way that our top two running backs should have had 18 carries compared to Delhomme's 37 pass attempts.
I'm not ready to throw Delhomme under the bus. His pass at the end of the first half was bad, but it's the fault of the offensive coordinator for not keeping the ball on the ground more often. I'll have more in my in-depth recap this week, but right now it's time to go burn off some steam.