Tuesday, November 19, 2013
First and 10: Scoring and scoreboards
By Pat McManamon
First and 10 talks Steelers, scoring and stadiums ...
The Browns talked big things a week ago when they said they were up to the task of playing in a big game in November. Now they are 4-6 and the half-full view says that with games at home the next two weeks, they could be 6-6 in December. How the rest of the season goes will depend on how the Browns fare against the Steelers on Sunday.
But a week after feeling good and upbeat after a win, the Browns now look like a team that has lost four-of-five, which it has. The Steelers? After an 0-4 start, they’ve won four-of-six.
No team has treated the Browns since 1999 like the kid brother Rob Chudzinski mentioned than the Steelers, with thrashings and embarrassing losses piled on each other. The lone Browns win in a game Ben Roethlisberger started might have even been a loss, because it started a streak of wins that saved Eric Mangini’s job for one season. To say the Steelers have owned the Browns is an insult to ownership.
By the way ... that motivational speech from the former playmaker himself ... Michael Irvin ... Never mind.
Give coach Rob Chudzinski credit for one thing -- he is very adept at defusing things in his media get-togethers. He was asked if the second quarter against Cincinnati was a snowball going downhill, and he simply said a lot of atypical things happened. Which was wise. He took what could have been an issue -- “how could a coach let things get away that badly” -- by stating a simple fact. It was a very deft statement.
How advantageous is it to intercept a pass and return it for a touchdown? Consider that Sunday was the 88th time that had happened in Browns history (Joe Haden did the deed for the Browns). The Browns have won 79 percent of those games, having gone 69-18-1. The one in five they lost was last Sunday.
Backup linebacker Eric Martin must have some unbelievable potential. The guy is a penalty machine on special teams, and he was part of the duo that missed the block on Cincinnati’s blocked punt. His penalties have been downright bizarre. Against Cincinnati, he was flagged for unnecessary roughness when the Bengals sent a kickoff 5 yards out of the end zone. Against Green Bay he was flagged for the same when he blocked a Packers player out of bounds, then blocked him again on the sidelines. On the blocked punt, Martin blocked down on a player already engaged with a Browns protector, which provided the gap for the block. Yet while the bottom of the roster is juggled, Martin remains. Interesting.
Cincinnati’s 31-point quarter was not a record by a team against the Browns. Green Bay holds that mark, as the Packers scored 35 points on Nov. 12, 1967, in the first quarter of a 55-7 rout over the Browns. Longtime Browns watchers recall a player named Travis Williams not once, but twice, returning a kickoff for a touchdown in that game.
The 31 points by the Bengals matched the worst second quarter in Browns history. The team had given up that amount twice -- in 2013 against the Bengals and in 1990 against the Houston Oilers.
It’s really something to hear a mayor of a struggling major city in the rust belt and an NFL team president make a convincing case that $30 million from said city’s general fund is not a bad cost for cosmetic repairs to a stadium. Then you think what $30 million can do for a city, and how that compares to beautiful scoreboards. Cleveland City Council should have fun with this vote Monday, but it would be a surprise if it didn’t pass. Art Modell’s decision was not that long ago.