Thirty seconds of game time after Phil Dawson kicked what appeared to be a game-winning field goal, Cleveland Browns fans once again had their hearts ripped out by a bizarre set of events.
With the Browns ahead 39-37, the team was assessed a fifteen-yard foul for taunting on Punter Chris Gardocki. Kicking off from their own 15, the Browns were still able to keep the Chiefs in their own territory in the ensuing kickoff. After a short gain, the Chiefs were in position to have a single Hail Mary play from near mid-field. QB Trent Green dropped back to pass, but found himself in the unusual position of being surrounded by rushing Browns defenders. As he was being taken down by Dwayne Rudd, Green flipped the ball in the air to huge OT John Tait, who then lumbered down to around the Browns 30.
With no time remaining on the clock, it appeared that the Browns had won.
Unfortunately, after seemingly sacking Green, LB Rudd thought the play was over and celebrated by hurling his helmet towards the west end zone. Since Tait was still on the move at the time, a penalty was thrown on Rudd. The penalty allowed the Chiefs to have the ball around their own 15-yard-line. As games cannot end on a defensive penalty, Kansas City had the opportunity to bring in ageless Morten Andersen for an easy 30-yard field goal.
As the Kansas City bench erupted in celebration, a stunned Cleveland Browns team was sent to their fourth consecutive opening game loss. Browns fans again had a game taken from them by an official's flag, but in this case there was little doubt that the officiating crew was correct. Still, there was some limited angry tossing of available objects towards the field, followed by an announcement warning fans of the consequences of such behavior.
The mental mistakes took center stage on a day when Kelly Holcomb and the Browns recievers looked in impressive in gaining over 300 yards in the air, 151 yards of it to Quincy Morgan. Surprisingly, however, the Browns rushing attack failed to materialize behind both Jamel White and William Green.
Although the last-minute dramatics will distract attention from it, the Browns cannot be happy with a weak defensive performance, particularly from the front four. The Browns defensive line, led by DE Courtney Brown, was unable to create an effective pass rush throughout the game, and was eventually worn down by Kansas City's effective offensive line. The Browns defense seemed to tackle poorly most of the game, in particular with high tackles on running back Priest Holmes. Holmes finished the day with 122 yards and four touchdowns.
Next week, the Browns welcome the Cincinnati Bengals, who were thrashed 34-6 at home by San Diego. Combined with a Ravens loss to Carolina, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a chance to assume the early lead in the AFC North if they defeat New England on Monday night.