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very good article on falcons game


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http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Dont know how to imbed photos sorry

Battered Browns Drop a Frustratingly Close One to Falcons

For folks with a realistic view of the magnitude of the rebuilding job that was before Eric Mangini and later Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert when they arrived in Cleveland, there's really not a whole lot to say about yesterday's loss to the Falcons. It was another gutty performance by an outmanned Browns unit that stayed in the game for four quarters against an excellent football team. An outmanned Browns unit that might have seen a much better outcome had a few plays gone differently. Progress continues apace.


Which isn't to say we don't have some specific questions about what happened yesterday. Like, what's Ben Watson getting paid $4 million a year for ($6.35 million guaranteed) if it's not to catch balls like this?

This was on 1st-and-10 with the Browns at the Falcons' 44 on the drive after Atlanta had taken a 13-10 third-quarter lead. A catch here would have put the Browns in field goal range at Atlanta's 32 with a new set of downs. Instead, 2nd-and-10 becomes 3rd-and-10 when Jerome Harrison dances at a hole to trip over Eric Steinbach, and a punt ensues.


Watson also jumped for a false start in the 2nd quarter to turn a 3rd-and-2 into an unconverted 3rd-and-7. He's the team's highest paid pass-catcher. What can you say?





The Watson incompletion above might not have mattered if Josh Cribbs and Jake Delhomme could have closed the gap here by a few inches for what could have been a touchdown pass, or at least gotten the Browns down to the Atlanta 20. If either of these plays are converted, we're probably talking about at least a tie game and potentially a much different ending and Monday morning narrative about Delhomme.


On the missed bomb to Cribbs, we're at least glad to see that it was there, and that Delhomme saw the same to let it fly. It's easy enough to look at the different stat lines of Delhomme and Seneca Wallace. It's harder to see how many times Wallace checks down or pulls up without throwing the ball at all.





Like on this first quarter sack where Wallace held the ball for a solid four seconds to get tackled for a six-yard loss to make 1st-and-10 into 2nd-and-16 (later 3rd-and-19 thanks to a Tony Pashos false start). Note the Browns receiver coming open up the left sideline (upper right corner of the screen). No luck for him (or us) here. Probably because, as we learned from Tony Grossi yesterday, "Wallace is uncomfortable throwing to his left" (which is why the Browns lined Massaquoi on the right side of the field yesterday, according to Grossi).



If Grossi knows this about Wallace, the odds are good that the Falcons know too. And it becomes less of a puzzle as to why Wallace has been a backup quarterback for his seven-year NFL career.


As for Delhomme, he wasn't playing at 100% and wasn't expecting to be thrown into the fire yesterday, which couldn't have helped. Yet still, with Wallace only leading one first-half drive longer than 24 yards (six drives of 18, 21, 5, 56 (TD), 3, and 24 yards), it's hard to say Delhomme did much worse (five drives of 22 (FG), 33, 6, 27, and 62 yards).


And if Watson or Cribbs comes up with one of those catches earlier, maybe we're playing with a lead, or at least not in a position for the tipped screen returned by Kroy Biermann for the nail-in-the-coffin touchdown.





The guy made a play. Really tough one. Delhomme needs to get more under that. Maybe next time Vickers should think about getting a chip on the end?



Anyway, these Falcons are as good as any team we've seen this season, extremely balanced on each side of the ball. Their front seven might be the best we'll see all season, especially the front four led by John Abraham who gave Joe Thomas fits yesterday. Hard to ask for a better tuneup for the Steelers next week. Unfortunately injuries to Delhomme and Wallace have put a major damper on the prospects there, but hopefully the defense continues to improve on yesterday's for-the-most-part excellent showing. We were especially glad to see a pass rush generated without a blitz yesterday, because the Steelers offensive line isn't as good as Atlanta's.


Huge game next week in Pittsburgh. Quarterback injuries aside, there'd be no reason to think the Browns couldn't come away with a win. Which again, is progress, as boring and frustrating as it can be.





It's understood that it's challenging to write about a rebuilding football team, but a whole column to second-guess a decision not to burn a timeout on a play that had literally no chance of being overturned is just sad.

We'll do our best to stay focused on what's really important here.

We'll be back later for Monday Night Football. Hope everyone's week gets off to a decent start.

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