Browns Battered Emotionally after Loss

The day after the bizarre loss to the Lions, Eric Mangini and his team still struggled with the setback. Steve King was in Berea to talk to the coach and players in the locker room...




Visibly shaken.


Almost near tears.

Browns head coach Eric Mangini was still all of those things – and a myriad of other emotions, none of them positive – on Monday just less than 24 hours after arguably the toughest loss of his head coaching career, 38-37 to the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Ford Field.

The Lions won on an untimed play after the clock ran out when two rookies, quarterback Matt Stafford and tight end Brandon Pettigrew, hooked up on a one-yard touchdown pass, and then Jason Hanson kicked the extra point.

"I told the players how disappointed I was not in them, but for them," said Mangini, whose team lost its fifth straight and fell to 1-9.

The coach said he would send to the NFL office for review a tape of the last game, especially the final moments when Detroit marched for the game-winner.

The TD was set up when Browns nickel back Hank Poteat was called for pass interference in the end zone on Stafford's 32-yard Hail Mary pass to wide receiver Calvin Johnson as time expired. The penalty gave the Lions the ball on the 1, and they scored on the next play.

"I haven't seen it called," he said of pass interference on a Hail Mary pass. "I have no control over the call. If they called it … it's their call."

After Pettigrew caught the ball, Lions tight ends coach Tim Lappano raced all the way across the field, almost to the Cleveland sideline, and picked up the player and hugged him.

"There was the coach's excessive celebration that did not get called," Mangini said. "That 15-yard penalty would have been a big call."

How could the official have missed Lappano being on the field?

"I don't know," Mangini said.

He stopped just short of accusing Lions players of faking injuries and causing timeouts to stop the Browns from running their no-huddle offense.

"I'm just saying there were a lot of them (injuries)," he said.

Mangini didn't really give an answer when asked if he would be upset him if Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, a longtime friend with whom he worked in Cleveland in 1994 and '95 on Bill Belichick's staff, had intentionally ordered players to fake injuries to slow down the Browns.

While saying it's hard to determine the legitimacy of injuries, Mangini seemed to agree that such things might be something for the NFL Competition Committee to study at its next meeting.

All this, though, misses the point – and ignores others.

For instance, Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was not penalized, either, despite the fact he walked at least 20 yards onto the field to complain about the interference call, which, by the way, was legitimate because Poteat clubbed Johnson while the ball was in the air.

The Browns had a 24-3 lead with 2:52 left in the first quarter and couldn't hold it. They needed a 29-yard field goal by Phil Dawson with two seconds left to take a 27-24 halftime advantage.

After that quick start – quarterback Brady Quinn had 151 yards passing in the first quarter – the Browns, for whatever reason, seemed to take their foot off the gas pedal and quit attacking with the deep throws.

The Browns failed to use two timeouts at the end of the first half to try to score a TD and instead settled for Dawson's kick because Mangini said he did not want to give the Lions the ball back against his struggling defense. But isn't the object to score TDs and get the four additional points, regardless of how much time is left on the clock?

On top of that, running back Chris Jennings dropped a sure touchdown pass in the second half.

The Browns had a 37-31 lead with two minutes left in the game and the ball at the Cleveland 42, where they were faced with a third-and-5 situation. Not only did they fail to convert the first down, but Quinn's incomplete pass to rookie wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi stopped the clock at a point when the Lions had no timeouts left. Had the Browns called a running play and the ball carrier stayed in bounds, there was no way the Lions could have stopped the clock.

Starting at their 12 following the ensuing punt with 1:46 remaining, the Lions used 10 plays to march for the winning score, taking full advantage of a prevent defense where, instead of putting pressure on Stafford to try to force him into making a mistake, the Browns dropped back eight defenders to about Dearborn, letting the receivers catch the ball in front of them in an attempt to use up the clock.

Even after the interference call, the Lions still had to throw the TD pass to win. But the Browns couldn't stop them.

Every time the Browns needed to make a play – or make a proper coaching call – to clinch the win, they couldn't do it. When it was all said and done, Mangini realized that.

"I feel like we had a lot of opportunities," he said. "There were plenty of chances for us to control the game and win.

"We even had another play after the penalty to win the game, and we didn't execute."

For all of this, the Browns have only themselves to blame. They lost the game, not the officials.

So if Eric Mangini is disillusioned, disappointed, devastated, visibly shaken, disgusted and almost near tears, he has a right to be – but only from the standpoint that this was a heartbreaking loss, arguably the toughest one of his head coaching career.

The OBR Top Stories