CLEVELAND—Only in Cleveland!
Pro Bowl long snapper Ryan Pontbriand bounced his snap off the leg of Alex Mack on a chip shot 22-yard field goal that would've given the Browns a 15-12 lead with 2:10 to play. Instead, the Browns dropped to 3-6, losing to the previously 1-7 Rams, 13-12.
Phil Dawson provided all of the Browns offense with four field goals and should've had five, but an errant snap cost them the game. As Pontbriand was snapping the ball, Mack's leg deflected the ball and it bounced back to holder Brad Maynard.
Dawson has made every field goal he has attempted this season (16 of 16) when something strange doesn't happen. Dawson had two field goals blocked earlier this season against Seattle when blocking broke down and he almost made the field goal against the Rams, despite the ball bouncing back to him.
"On the game-winning kick, it was a short field goal and I'm thinking ‘get it off quick'," Dawson said. "The trade-off , anytime you do that, is that if anything is slightly off, you will have to time to react. I'm going fast, the ball gets deflected at the line of scrimmage, and by the time Brad gets it down—it was a tremendous hold by Brad—I m pretty much past the ball and I am trying to somehow dig it up. It might have been deflected after that. It is just a tough way to end things."
"If anything goes wrong, there is no time for adjustment," he said. "It was the perfect storm."
Pontbriand took the blame, even though it didn't appear to be his fault.
"I need to execute even if it's a narrow window," he said. "I take responsibility for all snaps."
Ultimately, the Browns downfall was they didn't score a touchdown. On their final drive, the Browns had first-and-goal on the Rams' eight and tried three-straight running plays that picked up one yard before attempting the ill-fated field goal.
After running several creative plays during the game, Pat Shurmur elected to kick the field goal and trust his defense, rather than go for the touchdown.
"I'm disappointed we lost," Shurmur said. "We were in a position to score. We go down by a point and made the decision to get points there."
Shurmur said he wasn't afraid to throw a pass, but his actions didn't align with his statement.
"I trust every player out there," Shurmur said. "We wanted to make sure we got points."
One of the creative plays that didn't work was an attempted handoff to tight end Alex Smith, who was lined up in the fullback position.
Shurmur was testy when asked about the call.
"(Smith) knew he was going to get the football," Shurmur said. "We tried to hand him the football and he dropped it. We did a lot of good and we did a lot of bad."
Throughout the game, the Browns showed some plays and formations they hadn't all season.
"We did some creative things," Shurmur said. "I think we did creative things all the way through. It seems like just the Wildcat (is considered creative)."- Quarterback Seneca Wallace was lined up as a wide receiver on the second play of the game, but was not involved in the play as McCoy threw to Greg Little for five yards.
- On the next possession, Cribbs went in motion and then McCoy hit him with a swing pass and he picked up 20 yards. Cribbs also ran out of the Wildcat for four yards on his first attempt.
- The highlight reel play was in the second quarter as Cribbs took the direct snap, who handed it to Wallace, who pitched it back to McCoy, who then threw down the sideline for a 21-yard gain to set up Dawson's second field goal.
- In the third quarter, Wallace lined up as a receiver and McCoy hit Little for six yards.
- Later in the third quarter, Cribbs took an end around for a 15-yard gain.
- Little ran an end around for 10 yards on the Browns final drive.
- Smith lost the ball lined up as a fullback in the fourth quarter, although the official statistics listed it as a fumble by McCoy and Cribbs recovered.
"I tried to use everything we could to move the football," Shurmur said. "We tried to spread the ball around."
Cribbs ‘Embarrassed': WR/KR Josh Cribbs did a little bit of everything for the Browns, but a fumble on a punt return late in the game gave the Rams the ball on the Browns 27 and it led to the game-winning field goal.
"No excuse," Cribbs said. "Just embarrassing."
Cribbs fumbled the punt with just under 11 minutes to play as LB David Nixon stripped him as he was trying for extra yards and LB Ben Leber recovered on the Browns' 27.
"It gave them points and you can't do that in a close game," Shurmur said.
Earlier, Cribbs let a punt go over his head and it cost the Browns about 20 yards in field position. After stopping the Rams at the 13, P Donnie Jones got off a 64-yard punt to put the Browns back at their 23. Cribbs elected to let the low line drive hit and the ball took a big bounce.
Cribbs appeared in the Wildcat and had three runs for 21 yards. He also caught three passes for 32 yards, including a 20-yard play. Cribbs had one kick return for 27 yards and a punt return for six yards.
Deep Ball?: QB Colt McCoy threw a perfect 52-yard strike down the middle of the field to WR Greg Little with 14 seconds to play in the first half. McCoy pump faked to the right and then threw to Little. However, the Browns were only able to get a field goal as TE Evan Moore was called for grabbing the face mask and K Phil Dawson kicked his third field goal of the first half.
McCoy was 20-of-27 for 218 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. His rating was 97.5 and he completed 74.1 percent of his passes for his high of the season. He was sacked twice on back-to-back plays by DL Chris Long and former Ohio State LB James Laurinaitis.
Lone Sack: DL Phil Taylor picked up the Browns lone sack on third-and-3 from the nine to forced a field goal with 7:59 to play in the game. Taylor leads the team with four sacks. LB D'Qwell Jackson led the Browns with 8 tackles.
Faithful Phil: K Phil Dawson hit four field goals, three in the first half from 44- and 32- and 43-yards for the Browns only scores of the half. He hit a 27-yard field goal with 33 seconds to play in the third quarter to give the Browns a 12-10 lead. Dawson is now 16-of-19 on field goal attempts with his only three misses coming on blocks or errant snaps.
"That is the maddening part," Dawson said. "It is not about how many you made, it is about how many you missed. That's the job, I am not complaining about it. We had a chance to win the game today, but we didn't I am not going to get hysterical. I just know that this day (was bad)."
Little Big: Rookie WR Greg Little had four receptions for 67 yards in the first half, including a 52-yard pass play that set up a field goal. Little finished with 6 catches for 84 yards. He also had a 10-yard end around.
Go Chris Go: RB Chris Ogbonnaya had a career best 90 yards rushing on 19 carries, including a long of 32 yards. He caught two passes for 19 yards.
Turnover: LB Chris Gocong recovered a fumble by RB Steven Jackson after he caught a five-yard pass with 10:40 to play in the third quarter. The Rams started the second half and drove to the Browns' 29 before the turnover. Gocong had five tackles and a forced fumble.
Browns Strike in First: Phil Dawson kicked a 44-yard field goal to make it 3-0 with 4:51 to play in the first quarter. The Browns have yet to score a touchdown in the first quarter, but have now kicked three field goals. They have been outscored 58-9 in the first period. The Rams scored a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter as QB Sam Bradford hit WR Brandon Lloyd with 14:53 to play in the second quarter.
Tip Drill: LB Scott Fujita batted a QB Sam Bradford pass into the air and then intercepted it with 11:31 to play in the second quarter. The interception set up the Browns' second field goal. Fujita had five tackles to go along with his seventh career interception.
Curious Move: On the Rams first possession, they drove to the Browns 34 but elected to punt instead of try a 51-yard field goal. P Donnie Jones punted it into the end zone for a net punt of 14 yards. The flags on the goal post were blowing toward the closed end making it appear the wind was to the kicker's back.
Inactives: For the Browns: RB Peyton Hillis, RB Montario Hardesty, DB T.J. Ward, DB Dimitri Patterson, OL Steve Vallos, QB Thaddeus Lewis and WR Mohamed Massaquoi. Rams: DB Rod Hood, RB Jerious Norwood, LB Bryan Kehl, LB Josh Hull, T Jason Smith, WR Danario Alexander and TE Lance Kendricks.
Darden, Scott Back: Former Browns DB's Thom Darden and Clarence Scott were honorary captains for the game.