Sunday, December 4, 2011

Baltimore batters Browns bruisingly, Biff

Rice a-Ronied all over the Browns (sorry).
If there's two fundamental elements of football that epitomize the Browns' miseries since 1999, it's that they can't run and they can't stop the run. Both of these traits were on display today against a workmanlike Ravens squad that simply ground Cleveland under its merciless purple boot heel.

The battle at the line of scrimmage was a rout, with Baltimore running back Ray Rice bringing back bad memories of Jamal Lewis vs. Butch Davis's defense. Meanwhile, Baltimore's defense stopped the Browns' ground attack after an opening Cleveland drive that found Peyton Hillis battering open some holes. See, good teams make course corrections during games. I've studied this phenomenon, mostly through old newsreels and faded microfiche, but I've not seen it put into practice by the guys in the home whites for awhile.

Another thing good teams do is make big plays after an inferior opponent acquires a bit of momentum. The Browns, as is their wont to do, could not score a touchdown following a 52-yard McCoy-to-Hillis romp and had to settle for a boring, stupid field goal. The tiny ray of light engendered by those hard-to-come-by points was rudely stoppered during the Ravens' next possession. Rice's 67-yard scamper, the highlight of his monster 204-yard day, effectively ended Cleveland's chances.

Colt McCoy's lukewarm performance, meanwhile, won't discourage talk of drafting Matt Barkley or Robert Griffin III with a high draft pick come April. He was again victimized by drops (tight end Ben Watson for one had a horrific day), but tossed another killer interception on a ball that should never have been thrown. McCoy needs better protection and more talent surrounding him to improve, but he's simply not making enough plays with what he has available to mark him as Cleveland's quarterback of the future.

Certainly, it would have been foolish to expect much more from today's game than what was so glaringly presented on the field. There's likely not many fans that believed the Browns would score many points, much less have a real chance to win. Still, actually sitting and watching the contest play out with such plodding predictability was depressing.

Seems that not many people stuck around to watch the proceedings at Cleveland Browns Stadium, though. Tweets from fans and media types on site scoped perhaps 5,000 folks in the stands with the game out of hand in the fourth quarter. But there were scores of empty seats visible before that, too, against a hated division rival that used to wear the home team's colors. Kind of discouraging, no?

The joy of Cleveland professional football continues with a quick turnaround on Thursday night against another rival-in-name-only. Is there anyone in the Greater Cleveland area- besides the locust-like hordes of scumbag bandwagoning Steelers' fans, that is - looking forward to this week's game in the Steel City?

I really hate being this downtrodden about our Brownies. If only the franchise gave us more reasons for positivity. Uh, I like Jabaal Sheard and think the young man can be a beast coming off the edge. There, that's the happy thought for the day.

Otherwise, the Browns are probably looking at losing out and ending the year with the usual surfeit of questions and holes that need plugging. This latest insufferable season needs to end to give the front office another off-season of roster purging and talent acquirement. There's not much else we as fans can do but wait, most likely with a belt of good scotch and an irksome feeling of steadily dwindling patience.