Final thoughts from Browns-Cowboys

Posted by Vic Carucci on November 19, 2012 – 3:21 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

ARLINGTON, Texas – Here are some final thoughts on the Browns’ 23-20 overtime loss against the Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium:

>>Excruciatingly painful. I realize that isn’t exactly a new experience when it comes to watching Browns losses, but there really isn’t a more apt description for this one. After squandering a 13-0 lead, the Browns couldn’t have fought any harder to get back into the game. Their defense felt the full brunt of the loss of one of its best players, Joe Haden. And in the end, the Browns simply didn’t have enough left to close the deal.

>>For the most part, the defensive effort was valiant, especially considering how large a hole the absence of Haden left in the secondary. The front four consistently dominated the line of scrimmage and did plenty to help the Browns take an early lead and prevent the game from getting away from them. But ultimately the Browns had no solid way of replacing Haden. The Cowboys attacked through the air, with Tony Romo throwing 50 times for 313 yards, and drew numerous pass-interference penalties.

>>Twelve penalties on the Browns for 129 yards was a serious problem. Not only those called in the secondary, but also the ones called on special teams. The Browns aren’t good enough to overcome that many self-inflicted wounds. Few teams are.

>>The Browns’ defense did a good job against the run, limiting the Cowboys to 63 yards and an average of three yards per carry. The idea was to make the Cowboys’ one-dimensional, a strategy that likely would have worked better with a healthy Haden in the lineup.

>>In his 11th NFL season, tight end Benjamin Watson remains a key contributor to the offense. His two touchdown receptions were classic examples of a consummate professional rising to the occasion on a day when every play was ultra-critical. Watson found ways to get open, using his experience and considerable strength and athleticism to his best advantage. At 31, he is showing no signs of slowing down.

>>The Browns did exactly what they should have done in pounding the ball with Trent Richardson against the Cowboys’ banged-up front seven. For the third game in a row, Richardson demonstrated an extremely high tolerance for pain, ignoring his sore ribs to rush for 95 yards on 28 carries. He ran hard, showing his typical second and third effort to muscle through defenders and move piles. He also did a nice job of catching the ball, with six receptions for 49 yards.

>>Brandon Weeden was relatively efficient. He did lose a fumble, but avoided throwing an interception and completed 20 of 35 passes for 210 yards and a pair of touchdowns. For the most part, Weeden managed the game fairly well. But he was upset with being a little late on a fourth-down pass attempt to Jordan Cameron on a fade attempt in the back corner of the end zone.

>>Caruccis Corner is presented by Panera Bread.

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