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Bitterness Sets in for Browns Fans

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I was all set to just keep this whole situation positive. The Cleveland Browns have been a pleasant surprise all season.

They started horrendously. They ran Charlie Frye out of town after the first week of the season against Pittsburgh.

And then things started happening. Derek Anderson emerged as a legit starter at QB. The offensive line proved to be a positive after being a negative since the Browns returned to NFL action in 1999. Jamal Lewis ran for over 1,000 yards despite critics saying he was finished. Braylon Edwards showed up with a renewed sense of maturity that translated to success on the field while not providing newspaper fodder off the field. Same with Kellen Winslow. He continued his maturation despite reported soreness that would prove to be catastrophic for most other human beings.

All that will have to wait for a little bit as I deal with the horrible taste in my mouth after watching the Tennessee Titans squeak into the playoffs against an Indianapolis Colts team that was playing their second string. In case you didn’t know, the Browns needed the Colts to beat the Titans last night to secure a spot in the playoffs.

I knew going into this weekend exactly what I should expect. The Colts had nothing to play for, so they weren’t going to play their starters too long. I knew this for a long time. I knew this before the previous week’s action had finished and the Browns had lost control of their own destiny in a tough game against the Bengals. I know the Browns had a chance to keep the story in their own hands. I know this.

And then I watched the Giants take the Patriots to the brink. The Giants, who technically had nothing to play for put it all on the line against the 15-0 Patriots just to make sure that they kept the Pats honest. And boy, did they keep the Pats honest. The Giants tugged on Superman’s cape for more than three quarters before the Pats finally put the Giants away to put their historical season in the books.

Contrast that with the horrendous game I watched last night between the Titans and Colts. The Colts played their starters for only a quarter and the Titans still only eked out a 6 point win. I watched as Lendale White put the ball on the ground twice. I watched as Vince Young went down with some kind of leg injury. The problem was that the Titans defensive line wasn’t playing against a single starter on the Colts offensive line. They just pinned their ears back and ran at Jim Sorgi, who never had a chance to fulfill the dreams of all those Browns fans who emailed him all week. And even if he could have dumped the ball off fast enough, he wasn’t throwing to Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez, Dallas Clark, Marvin Harrison, or even Bryan Fletcher. Those guys were all on the bench. He wasn’t handing the ball or dumping screens to Joseph Addai. He was attempting to turn a man named Craphonso into a player.

Now, I don’t really blame the Colts. I don’t want you to think that I am trashing them or their coach, Tony Dungy. That would be a cop out too. I don’t know what I want. I don’t have a solution. The Colts would have looked really stupid if they had played all those starters and one of them had gotten hurt. But still, they did manage to work out Reggie Wayne long enough to make sure he was the league’s leading receiver before the first half was over. That included him taking some earth shattering hits on quick passes. Why is it that the Colts were willing to risk injury for that, but not to try and win the game? I don’t have the answer to that question.

What I do know is that the Browns earned every single win and loss on their schedule. The Browns earned the win in Baltimore just like they earned the loss in Oakland and the loss in Cincinnati that put their fate in the Colts’ hands. And while I am still not blaming the Colts, I do know that the Titans didn’t earn that victory last night. It was sloppy, the universe was seemingly against them as they lost the turnover battle and as injury seemingly caught up with them. The unwillingness of the Colts on the other side was too much for the Titans’ ineptitude to overcome.

That, my friends, is a bitter pill to swallow.

So, we can wait a little while longer before we look to the future of this surprising Browns team. Right now, I just need a bit more time to curse into space.

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About Craig Lyndall

  • I was bitter about that too. Unfortunately for you, those two events are not mutually exclusive. I can have bitterness for both.

    The Titans aren’t in the same class as the Colts on most days and they played HORRIBLY in beating the Colts 2nd string by a measly 6 points. No amount of arguing on your part will change my mind.

  • Craig–you are being ridiculous to state the Titans played “badly”. They HAD to win their final three games to have a chance at the playoffs, two of them road contests, and they did. They won ten games this year while playing in the toughest division in pro football.
    Still, their accomplishments would have been meaningless without a big hand from Cincinnati in week 16. Isn’t that really what you should be feeling bitter about?

  • This isn’t the first time Jeff Fisher took a bad team to the playoffs. The 2002 Titans had no Pro Bowlers on the roster, and were not in the Top 10 in either points scored or allowed. That team also made it to the AFC Championship, somehow.

    I also heard a couple of days ago that Kerry Collins might make a better start than Vince Young, quad strain or no quad strain. It’s against San Diego, so I wonder if it matters.

  • Read the article Titan Fan. I didn’t expect them to bring their A game. Still, how could I not be a bit bitter that the Titans were able to play as badly as they did and still make it into the playoffs?

  • First of all, I feel for the sensible Browns fan who doesn’t get to enjoy the playoffs after a really nice season. As for the blogger, you are naive to expect the Colts to bring their “A” game in a contest in which they have nothing to gain.

  • I still don’t understand why Dungy didn’t call his final timeout…or how Vince Young can show his face in public.

  • DBJ, that wasn’t a game against the Super Bowl champs. The Titans played horrendously and still BARELY came out on top of the third string Colts. Enjoy it, but don’t try to defend it.

  • CallmeMaddy

    As a Steeler fan, I grew up hating the Browns. The Steelers and the Browns are huge rivals. I actually went to the Nov. Browns game where they almost beat us! Even I, the diehard Steelers fan, feel bad for the Browns. They had their first good season in a very long time. Better luck next year. 🙂

  • DBJ

    Kind of hard to take you seriously when you can’t be bothered to note that the fumbles happened from two different Titans running backs. Brown fumbled and White fumbled.

    If you haven’t noticed (and apparently you haven’t) the Titans have played the Colts pretty tight their last few games. Tennessee struggling on offense isn’t new. Tennessee grinding out a win isn’t new. Apparently you just haven’t been paying attention.