BEREA - On Monday Butch Davis defended what was considered conservative play-calling in the Browns' 16-13 loss to Pittsburgh.
In particular, Davis has come under criticism for not opening up things more in overtime after linebacker Andra Davis put the Browns in position for a victory when he intercepted a Tommy Maddox pass at the Steelers' 34.
After quarterback Tim Couch threw a 4-yard pass to Aaron Shea, the Browns attempted two runs by Jamel White that netted a combined 3 yards. Kicker Phil Dawson had a 45-yard attempt of a field goal bounce off the goal post.
"After we intercepted the pass, we went for their throat on the first play," Davis said. "We were trying to scorch them. Logic made you think - which they did - that they would jump into an eight-man front to stop the run.
"We came out and threw. They did an excellent job in covering. They were in press, man-to-man coverage with a free safety in the middle of the field. Tim did a great job of getting the ball to Shea, and we got 4 yards."
Shea wasn't Couch's first option. He wanted to connect with a receiver over the middle, but none were open.
The Browns tried passing the ball on their final possession of regulation time. It worked to perfection when a screen pass by to White resulted in a 26-yard gain to Pittsburgh's 34. The play was negated because of a penalty against left tackle Ross Verba for illegal use of hands.
When right tackle Ryan Tucker was penalized 5 yards for a false start on the next play, the Browns faced a first-and-25 situation at their 25. There was no need to open up the offense at that point.
"Jamel White takes that screen down to the 34, and we're not even going into overtime," Shea said. "We had a penalty on that drive that shot us in the foot. We had a first-and-25, and those aren't good odds."
Despite the good season Dawson is having, Davis indicated that he wasn't trying to set up a field goal when White carried twice in overtime. Davis wanted to move the ball farther down field.
"Would I have liked to have thrown a 10-yard pass? Sure I would," Davis said. "If we would have thrown the ball, given the field position, and it would have been intercepted, everybody would have said, 'You have the best kicker in the league. Why are you throwing the football? Why not let Jamel run the ball to the middle of the field and let Phil kick it, win it and everybody goes home happy. It's kind of damn if you do and damn if you don't.
INJURY REPORT: Starting cornerbacks Daylon McCutcheon and Corey Fuller are among the walking wounded. McCutcheon was poked in his right eye in the third quarter, and Fuller suffered a hamstring injury in the second quarter.
"Both of them were here today (Monday)," Davis said. "I'm optimistic about both of them."