When Larry Fitzgerald all but sealed a Cardinals victory with his 32 yard reception in overtime, Browns fans reacted in either one of three ways. One, burying their face into their hands in disgust for the 1, 209th time. Two, cracking a slight smile. Or three, staring stone faced with no emotion whatsoever. The reaction depended on how that person views the Browns these days.
Did you want them to lose for better draft position? Did you want them to win because better draft position hasn’t helped anything in the past and it won’t help matters in the future? Or were you caught in the middle and didn’t care either way because you’re just trying to get through the season and hopefully see some signs of improvement along the way? That’s what Sundays game was. A battle of perspectives. Furthermore, that’s what Cleveland Browns football is; us trying to answer questions like–Do we want to root for this team lose? Can Colt McCoy be the QB of the future? Do Pat Shurmur and Mike Holmgren suck?–and going back and forth arguing about it until, eventually, there’s a turf war amongst the fans. And that’s really one of the worst parts about being a Browns fan all these years. The team has been so bad for so long that all fans are left with is to try and figure out how to properly put a stop to the losing.
So did Sundays loss help them?
It vaulted them up to the number 5 pick–if the season were to end today. The Browns competition–Carolina, Washington, and Miami–all won on Sunday. If you are a Colt McCoy hater and a Matt Barkley lover you have to be happy about that. Dido for Justin Blackmon. However, if you’re growing sick of the Browns repetitive inability to only play two quarters of a game, and/or sick in general of losing, Sundays loss didn’t make matters any better.
On their first drive of the game they went 74 yards in seven plays for a touchdown. Mohamed Massaquoi made the best catch a receiver has had all year, Seneca Wallace had my friend texting me “Haha, too bad he didn’t start for us all year”, and Peyton Hillis looked like the Peyton Hillis of last year. Unfortunately, the rest of the game was a carbon copy of what happened a couple weeks ago in Cincinnati. With the exception of Greg Little’s 76 yard touchdown (the longest of the year for the team), the offense couldn’t put together much of anything. So in honor of playing in the old hollowed grounds of Denny Green, against my better judgement I’m obligated to say it–yup, you know where I’m going with this–They were who we thought they were!!!
After having blown a ten point lead in the fourth quarter the game was tied at 17 when the Browns got the ball back at their own nine with 1:10 remaining and two timeouts. That’s when, for the 16th time this season, Pat Shurmur left me scratching my head. He called two running plays and the Browns went three and out and had to punt the ball back to Arizona. This didn’t lose the game for the Browns, but at 4-9 are you really still playing not-to-lose? If you’re trying to improve your draft position you are.
In overtime the Cardinals did what they do. They (nearly) won the game with Patrick Peterson–the same player who was drafted a spot before the Browns in this years draft. (Argument number one for wanting the Browns to lose out.) Larry Fitzgerald sealed the game with his 32 yard reception, and Jay Feely put the Browns to bed by drilling a 22 yard chip shot through the uprights.
Seneca Wallace played well, but he didn’t do what a few Browns fans thought he might, which was end Colt McCoy’s days as the Browns starting qb. He did, however, do enough to earn another start next week at Baltimore. Mostly because there’s nothing to gain from throwing a recently concussed Colt McCoy back into action against the Ravens defense. A very pissed off Ravens defense, too, I’m sure.
I’m not a fan of rooting to lose, but I’m certainly not going to lose sleep over this most recent loss. I guess I find myself in the in the middle ground. Last year the Browns traded their sixth overall pick. In 2009 they traded their fifth. You can argue that this team will never make good regardless of how high their first round pick is by pointing out names like Gerrard Warren and Courtney Brown, but if I asked you to name me the two best players on the team you would probably have to say Joe Thomas and Joe Haden, wouldn’t you? If I asked you to name the best offensive weapon the Browns have had, (though it would most definitely be begrudgingly) wouldn’t you probably say Braylon Edwards? Wouldn’t you still take Kellen Winslow over any combination of Watson/Moore/Smith/Cameron? And wouldn’t you trade Julio Jones for Phil Taylor?
It was hard and futile to watch, but the Arizona Cardinals helped us a lot more than they hurt. Rather, the Cleveland Browns helped themselves a lot more than they hurt.
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