There were penalties, missed tackles, dropped passes, a blocked field goal and a dejected football team. Welcome back to Cleveland Browns football, where Mondays are reserved for therapists, yoga and taking Browns fans to their happy place. Just bring your friend Jack Daniels along.
A middle-aged man wearing a faded, belly-protruding No. 47 Tyrone Wheatley jersey welcomed Raiders owner Al Davis to McAfee Coliseum early Sunday morning.
Mr. No. 47 began yelling, “King Al! King Al! King Al is here. Welcome the GAWDFATHER! KING AL!”
The godfather? Davis’ Raiders have been more Paulie Walnuts than Don Corleone.
Davis, frail and using a walker, was surrounded by a posse. He stared ahead and steadied his walker, paying his surroundings no mind.
But the group of fans grew. They swarmed Davis and circled the security around the aging Hall of Famer.
“King Al! King Al! King Al!” they chanted.
It was hard to tell if this was Oakland or the Middle East.
For sure, Sunday felt like Browns football. Oakland’s 78-year-old owner was more focused than the Browns.
There were penalties, missed tackles, dropped passes, a blocked field goal and a dejected football team.
Welcome back to Cleveland Browns football, where Mondays are reserved for therapists, yoga and taking Browns fans to their happy place. Just bring your friend Jack Daniels along.
Phil Dawson kicked a game-winning 40-yard field goal that didn’t count because of a last-second timeout, then had the one that counted blocked.
Raiders 26, Browns 24.
Devastated. Kicked in the gut.
“We did enough to get back in the game and ended up relaxing and let a blocked kick at the end ensure the loss,” Head Coach Romeo Crennel said, angrier than usual.
One and done again
Remember what a winning streak is? At least two wins strung together. You’ve probably forgotten. The team has. It has been 1,443 days since the Browns last won consecutive games.
Oakland won. Cleveland lost. The world is back where it should be after the Browns scored 51 points a week ago.
For a nano-second Sunday afternoon, the monkey left Crennel’s back. But the little rascal hopped back on almost as soon as he had hopped off.
“When you relax, you get it blocked for whatever reason,” Crennel said. “We can line up and see guys protect them many times before and not get them blocked. ... The way we played, it kind of felt like we relaxed.”
The Browns don’t know how to handle winning, because they haven’t won enough to learn.
“It’s a full 60-minute game. You can’t play the last five minutes (only),” left guard Eric Steinbach said. “This team, in order to know how to win, we have to grab two, three in a row. This was the game to do it, and we didn’t. So it hurts.”
On Sunday, against one of the worst teams in the NFL, they could’ve taken a giant step forward. Instead, the Browns are left with baby steps. They could’ve played poorly and still won. They could’ve gained confidence.
Instead, last week’s win against the Bengals means nothing. Derek Anderson’s strong performance a week ago? Forgotten.
There’s plenty of blame. The defense allowed its third-straight 100-yard rusher and almost 400 yards. They couldn’t get off the field on third-and-21. Anderson looked like a guy with a 1-4 record as a starter.
Offensive Coordinator Rob Chudzinski showed his inexperience in abandoning the run by the second quarter.
Rare is the quarterback who can give his team both the chance to lose and win.
“I struggled,” said Anderson, who completed less than half his passes and threw two interceptions. “I’ve got to be better for us to win, point blank. There’s no two ways about it.”
Anderson did lead his team 69 yards in the final 61 seconds to give them a chance.
But when the dust settled, and vile, nasty and ugly Raider nation had their first win to celebrate, the Browns didn’t talk about should’ves and could’ves. They knew they laid a stinker by the bay.
Call me crazy, but this is progress.
Regardless of what Cleveland learned about itself Sunday, in the grand scheme it is not important.
It still means they’re a 1-2 team with the Ravens, a team that won’t beat itself, coming to town. As much as they learned about themselves Sunday, they’ll learn more this week.
“It’s as devastating as you make,” tight end Steve Heiden said. “You can’t sit around and pout.”
Reach Repository sports writer Todd Porter at (330) 580-8340 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org