Every week the Cleveland Browns come out and play their opponents tough. With the exception of two games tough has not been enough. The Browns are 2-7 because they just can’t find a way to win.
On Sunday it was the Baltimore Ravens who waited long enough for Cleveland to fail. After Baltimore took a 14-0 lead, the Browns played them toe to toe. The Ravens could not move the football against Cleveland’s defense. The Browns offense began to move the ball on the ground and in the air. In the fourth quarter Cleveland took a 15-14 lead. It could have been more as a go ahead touchdown was called back.
The Browns could not hold their lead. Baltimore scored 11 points to come back and win 25-15. In September the Browns lost to the Ravens 23-16. Cleveland put itself behind the eight ball in that game when rookie quarterback Brandon Weedon threw an interception that Baltimore’s Cary Williams returned 63 yards for a touchdown.
The Browns have lost to the Philadelphia Eagles by one point. They have lost to the Cincinnati Bengals by a touchdown. Cleveland has lost to the by Indianapolis Colts by four points. You get the picture.
One could say that the Browns problems stem from having a young team with a rookie quarterback. One could also make the case that Cleveland is trying to build with second year head coach in Pat Shurmur. However, the Browns have been struggling for 10 years. They have not won a division title since being reborn in 1999. The new Browns only playoff appearance was as a wildcard in 2002.
The Browns simply do not know how to win. In the first Baltimore game Weedon threw a pass that should not have been thrown. In the second meeting he threw a perfect pass to Josh Gordon which should have been a touchdown and given Cleveland a five or six point lead. Instead, an illegal formation penalty nullified it and the Browns had to settle for a field goal.
Against Philadelphia, Cleveland did everything but win the game. They got after Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and caused five turnovers. Up 16-10 with 6:25 to play the Browns let Philadelphia drive 91 yards for the winning touchdown. From that point on it was downhill as Cleveland lost their first five games.
Against Indianapolis, the Browns missed an extra point after their first touchdown. That point came back to haunt them as trailing 17-13 they could not go for a tying field goal late in the game.
The Browns have split their last two with wins over the Bengals and San Diego Chargers. The losses were to Indianapolis and the Ravens. This means that they have had a little better luck in their last four games than they did in the first five.
This week Cleveland has a bye. They will return to face the Dallas Cowboys at home. Dallas is 3-6. Cleveland can beat them.
The problem is they may not know how.