With just under five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Pat Shurmur decided to go for it from his own 28 yard line. This decision should just about seal his fate as the coach of Cleveland Browns. Let’s dig deep in to this situation and try to figure out his rationale.
In the first half, the Baltimore Ravens could do anything they wanted against the Cleveland defense. This was not the case in the second half. A different Browns defense stifled the Ravens on just about every opportunity in the second half until Shurmur’s genius idea to go for it on 4th and 2 from his own 28 yard line. Now granted, the Ravens did put one good previous drive together to take the lead 22-15.
However, there were over four minutes left in the game, Cleveland was only down by seven (one score), had two timeouts left, a fired up hopeful loud crowd behind them, the two minute warning and a Cleveland “D” that would have done anything they possibly could of to get the ball back. Punting wasn’t the sexiest thing to do, but it was right thing to do at the time.
Going for it on fourth down backed up behind your own thirty is something that you would do when playing your buddy in the Madden ’13 video game, not in a real life NFL game. By making that terrible decision, Shurmur was basically waving the white flag if Cleveland didn’t get the first down. And, that’s just what happened. Brandon Weeden air mailed a throw at least three feet over Greg Little‘s head and that was the ball game.
So lets think about this, there are two decisions to be made there: punt the ball, have them get it back in their own territory and get a stop with maybe just under two minutes to play with a touchdown to tie OR go for it, not get the first down, give them great field position for an easy field goal that now makes it a two possession game. Which would you choose?
It’s unbelievable how the game quickly turned on the Browns. After the Cleveland defense making stop after stop and Phil Dawson knocking down kick after kick, you got the sense that Baltimore was not invincible. It was like when Balboa first made Drago bleed. There was hope and Cleveland was fighting with every little bit they could muster. It went from pulling off an upset to losing very badly by terrible decision making.
In the NFL, players should lose football games, not coaches. The players are the ones with the helmets and pads on running all over the field. By Shurmur continuing to put his players in virtually impossible situations to overcome, of course they are going to fail. Needless to say, with a 2-7 record, the Browns have failed miserably.
Ryan Ruiz – Cleveland Browns Writer
Please Follow Me on Twitter @ryanpruiz24