The Cleveland Browns have found a new way to lose.
It was frustrating that the Browns had only managed four field goals in a game where there had been more creativity in the playbook than there had been all season. They held a 12-10 lead in the fourth quarter, and with the Rams not able to do anything whatsoever in the second half, St. Louis punted to Joshua Cribbs. Cribbs had a rare fumble on the punt, setting the Rams up for a go-ahead field goal.
The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, giving Cleveland great field position at the 40-yard line. After several well-executed plays, the Browns quickly got down into field goal range. On 3rd-and-2 from the 11-yard line, the handoff went to fullback Owen Marecic, who pushed the pile forward for a first down. Cleveland had a 1st-and-goal from the 8-yard line. With the Rams as thin as they were in the secondary and starting to sell out for the run, it would've been nice to take at least one shot for the end zone to take a full possession lead.
First down went to Chris Ogbonnaya on the ground for a loss of one. The second down play was...a handoff to tight end Alex Smith. What!?! Smith fumbled the exchange with the quarterback, because...he never gets handoffs. Why is that necessary in such a critical situation? Fortunately, Cribbs dove in to somehow recover the fumble. On the next play, Shurmur played it conservative with a handoff to Ogbonnaya. That set up a fourth down and a 22-yard field goal attempt by Phil Dawson. Money in the bank, right? Not so.
After being 4-of-4 on field goals during the windy day, Ryan Pontbriand's snap appeared to be terrible. Brad Maynard did manage to pick it up, but it obviously threw off Dawson's rhythm and he barely got anything on the kick as he yanked it big time. Ball game. Replay review showed that as Pontbriand snapped the ball, it was actually Alex Mack who moved his leg a tad too early to deflect the pattern of the ball, leading to the whole mess that ensued. Unbelievable.
Cleveland falls to 3-6 on the year, ending hopes that they could enter their big "division" games with a .500 record. I think this was a funner game overall because of the trickery that was called on offense, but it's extremely frustrating to see no touchdowns on the board and, more importantly, what should have been a win taken off the board.