If the Cleveland Browns had a kicker who had the ability to kick in the clutch, you can argue that they would be 2-0.
That’s not the case.
Zane Gonzalez’s four missed kicks and eight sacrificed points ruined the chances of a Browns victory. It’s been 631 days since the Browns won a game. They virtually had the W in their pockets today against New Orleans.
But Gonzalez had other plans.
His miscues started when the Browns appeared to be taking control of the game. Carlos Hyde’s 1-yard TD put the Browns up 12-3 and the momentum had shifted greatly.
Then Gonzalez yanked the extra point.
After forcing a punt, the Browns held the ball for 10 plays and set Gonzalez up for a 44-yard field goal inside the Superdome.
He yanked it left again.
With 1:16 left, Tyrod Taylor found rookie Antonio Callaway for what should have been a dramatic 47-yard touchdown and a walk-off win for the Browns.
Gonzalez missed it left again and then heeled over in disbelief. As did many Browns fans.
The Saints took the lead with 21 seconds left, but Taylor completed two passes to move the Browns close enough for one more chance… This one from 52 yards could have sent the game to overtime. Gonzalez had a chance to completely redeem himself.
Not even close. Far right.
It’s always hard to put the blame of a loss entirely on one player, but that is exactly what deserves to happen this evening.
“Make the field goals,” Jarvis Landry said after the Browns loss.
Gonzalez is statistically one of the best kickers in NCAA history. In fact, during the duration of his time with Arizona State University, Gonzalez finished his career with 494 points surpassing the FBS record for points by a kicker.
Absolutely none of his collegiate success has translated to the NFL in his underwhelming time with the Browns.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Browns address the kicking situation now. The quick turnaround from Sunday in New Orleans to Thursday Night Football in downtown Cleveland will limit the amount of time to find a new kicker.
You have to imagine that head coach Hue Jackson will have some sort of kicking tryout this week. At this point, anything is better than what happened inside the Superdome this afternoon. Big names like Dan Bailey and Cairo Santos are still waiting to be signed.
Browns training camp attendee and Cleveland-native kicker, Ross Martin, is unemployed as well. He kicked at Walsh Jesuit High School and Duke University before he was cut from the Browns final 53-man roster a few weeks ago after a tremendous camp with the Browns.
“It’s on me 100 percent,” Gonzalez said. “It sucks because we were so close to that win and it’s been so long. I just let everybody down.”
Nick Pedone, who simply can’t stand Zane Gonzalez any longer, can be followed on his Twitter, @NickPedone12.