The Cleveland Browns lost to the Las Vegas Raiders by a score of 16-14 at First Energy Stadium on Monday night. Debated on the radio this morning, there was a very interesting decision the Browns had in the fourth quarter.
Let’s set the stage, shall we?
It’s late in the 4th quarter and the Browns are up 14-13.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr heaves a pass down the middle and it is intercepted by Browns CB Greedy Williams. Thus, the Browns get the ball back with the lead and 2:59 to go in the game.
Things are looking good, right? The game is practically over. Right? Right? Right?
After a couple of plays with the Browns on offense, there is a 4th and three situation from the own Cleveland 30 at the two-minute warning.
The safe decision would be to punt the football away. However, this would give the Raiders another opportunity to try and win the game with the football in their hands. Keep in mind all it would take is a field goal to win it.
Now, a first down guarantees a Browns victory. If the team doesn’t get it, the Raiders get the ball back with an easy opportunity to win the game. Even so, with a punt, the Raiders still have to drive into field goal range for the win.
Well, we all know what happened. The Browns decided to punt, the Raiders drove the ball down the field and K Daniel Carlson kicked a game-winning 48-yard field goal.
16-14, the Raiders win it.
It’s a decision that will be debated upon throughout the week and one that we will never know the alternative outcome for. Had the Browns gone for it and not gotten it, then lost the game… Well, the criticism is even more intense. However, if the team does get that first down, Browns fans are celebrating a 14-13 victory and first place in the AFC North at an 8-6 record.
What would I have done if I was the coach?
Honestly, probably punted. Said, “Hey defense – stop them and let’s win this game.” It’s the safe decision, but the smart decision. Even though it ultimately failed for the Browns.
One final note circles back to the plethora of players out with COVID. That defense is not necessarily the same as it usually is and the coaching staff certainly took that into consideration. That defense is not what it typically is with all the players out.
We will never really know the alternative outcome, despite hours of debates. The Browns lost – the end. *Wipes away tears*