Everyone wants to blame the refs for the Cleveland Browns loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Myself included, as that pass interference was an absolutely horrific call and the NFL should be ashamed that happened. It truly did affect the outcome of the game.
Anyway, refs aside, I’d like to focus on a different play call that I felt altered the course of the game negatively for the Browns.
It’s third and nine from the Cleveland 15 with just under three minutes to go in the game. The Browns are leading 42-41 at this point. One would think that despite the fact the Browns have the best running back tandem in the league, it would certainly be a passing play call from coach Stefanski.
Nine yards to go…
Well, the call was a run and Kareem Hunt rushed for a three yard gain. Thus, forcing a punt. The Chargers got the ball back down one with 2:11 left in the game and a chance to win.
Had the Browns thrown the ball down the field, gotten the first down and kept the clock running… Well, the team certainly would’ve had a much better shot at winning by running down the clock.
Baker finished the game 23/32 (71.9%) for 305 yards and two touchdowns. That’s a very good stat line compared to last week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings of 15/33 (45.5%) for 155 yards and no touchdowns.
Guess which one resulted in a win? Wrong.
Now, the Browns have capable receivers in OBJ, Higgins, Peoples-Jones etc. The coach should’ve trusted his quarterback in that situation to make the throw to extend the chains and give the Browns what would’ve likely resulted in the win.
Sure, a mistake could’ve been made on that throw. Even so, a mistake could’ve been made on the running play resulting in a fumble. Clearly, the coach trusted his running backs more than quarterback.
Overall, I am a big fan of coach Stefanski and I believe this was just a single mistake that altered the outcome. This Browns team has a lot to asses overall after taking the loss. However, even if the team won, there would still be plenty of work that needs to be done this week for future matchups against the Cardinals and Broncos.