- Pat McManamon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Cleveland Browns fans joined the loud chorus protesting the work of NFL officials after two less-than-questionable calls went against the Browns in Sunday’s loss to the Patriots.
But their coach refused to join the chorus.
Rob Chudzinski said he did not agree with the calls, but he said complaining about them or focusing on them is not wise.
“The things that are important are the things that we can control,“ Chudzinski said one day after a brutal 27-26 loss to New England. “We had opportunities to win that game and make the plays to win that game and do the things to win that game that would have been able to change the outcome.
“That’s what we have to focus on.”
Not that Chudzinski didn’t think the Browns were shafted by the flags thrown by the field judge -- though it should be pointed out he never said that. He merely said he did not agree with the calls.
“It was tough to see,” Chudzinski said after watching the tape.
After the game, he said the pass interference penalty on Leon McFadden that set up New England’s winning score was not a call he agreed with.
He said he feels the same a day later, a position ex-NFL referee Gerry Austin, now an ESPN analyst, agreed with. Austin said there should have been no call on the play.
But Chudzinski is not going down the excuse road.
“If we focus on what we can’t control then we’ve given up our ability to do what we can do,” Chudzinski said. “We’ve put it in somebody else’s hands, or we’ve blamed somebody else. We’re just not going to operate that way.”
Chudzinski did not detail specific plays, but the Browns did have chances to win the game. New England drove 82 yards for a touchdown with 1:01 left. Then the Patriots recovered an up-the-middle onside kick that seemed to flummox the Browns.
For the second week in a row, the Browns followed a huge Josh Gordon touchdown reception by giving up a touchdown drive. And for the second week in a row, the defense had the chance to stop New England after the Browns had taken a 26-14 lead with 2:39 left.
“When you have a game in your hands, we want to close it out defensively,” Chudzinski said.
Too, there might not be a team in the league this season -- including the Patriots -- that doesn't feel it was jobbed at one time or another by the officials. That doesn't make the calls any more palatable; it just shows the human element involved.
For whatever reasons -- Tom Brady, breakdowns, penalties -- it simply didn’t happen for the Browns. Again.
For that reason, Chudzinski would not even admit he was angry about the penalties.
“I don’t because I can’t control it and we can’t control it,” he said. “We can only control the things that we can do. We had opportunities in all three phases to make plays and make a difference in the game and we weren’t able to get that done.”