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Written by Jeff Rich

Jeff Rich

BROWNS LOSEWell, it was just about what you would expect it to be, a clear contrast of good and poor in the form of NFL teams that are in very different places.  It doesn’t take a scholar to understand that “win now” is a much better concept than “win eventually”.  In Cleveland, we refer to the latter as “the process”, which today yielded a 34-12 defeat to the Denver Broncos in Denver on Sunday.

By the end, it felt more like August than December, despite temperatures well below what I would describe as comfortable, with Brock Osweiler playing mop-up time against Colt McCoy, who was in after Brandon Weedon appeared to experience pain in his collar-bone, but the word in the locker room after the game was “shoulder”.  We will know later this week.

McCoy came out of the bullpen to a familiar down & distance (3rd and 19) and a very familiar game situation (down 28-6 in the 3rd quarter), so his play was inconsequential.  Weeden was sacked, with great force, by Von Miller on the Browns 11.  To that point, Weeden was 12-of-19 for 104 yards for an offense that mustered up just two Phil Dawson field goals.  So far this seasons, you can’t count on much, but you can pretty much count on Dawson, a should-be Pro-Bowl kicker.

Except for an endzone interception by Usama Young at the end of the first half, Peyton Manning did what he usually does, and moved the ball up and down the field against the Browns, practically at will.  Denver was 9-of-15 on third down, and their punter Britton Colquitt made just three cameo appearances.  Manning looked as good as he’s looked since coming back from surgery this season, completing 30-of-43 passes for a season-high 339 yards and 3 TD; the second of two to Eric Decker made it 21-6 in the third quarter, and essentially put the game out of reach for the visiting Browns, who haven’t won in Denver since 1990.

The Browns missed opportunities left and right in this game, though it hardly seems it would have made enough of a difference to alter the result.  Trindon Holliday and Jim Leonhard both put Reggie Hodges punts on the turf at Sports Authority Stadium, but both harmlessly bounced to their Bronco teammates.  A few Manning passes were tipped or batted by the Browns front-four, who did a good job getting the big arms in the way of Manning passes, but they all fell harmlessly to the Rocky Mountain surface.

Greg Little led the receiving corps with 6 grabs for 58 yards and a mop-up TD reception from McCoy to make it a 31-12 game, before and after a failed McCoy keeper on the conversion attempt.  Brad Smelley made his first career catch, which puts just four catches behind Owen Marecic’s career total in the Browns History books.  The brain-trust of Shurmur and Childress dialed up 36 passes, but just 13 total carries for non-quarterbacks.

Trent Richardson didn’t break anything big today, something some fans are getting impatient about, but he ran hard and earned his 53 yards on 9 carries.  That brings Richardson to 897 yards on the year, good enough to pass Jim Brown’s rookie total, but keep it in the context that Brown didn’t play 16-game seasons.  We are fortunate that Brown’s yardage record is all the Richardson broke today.  He was carted off the field after the game for an ankle injury that is being reported as “not broken”, but Richardson was seen in a walking boot after the game .  If you’re scoring at home, that’s two 2012 first-round picks with unknown injuries that will surely send some into a panic.

The Browns fell to 5-10 with the loss, but knew they were mathematically eliminated with their home loss a week ago.  They might not have known that their next opponent was also eliminated from the post-season, just moments before the Browns kicked off Sunday’s game.  The Steelers are 7-8, and will host the Browns next Sunday, trying to avoid their first losing season since 2003, and first sweep by the Browns since 1988. 

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