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There's No Such Thing as a Good Loss...But...

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There's No Such Thing as a Good Loss...But...

Postby slowkidz » Mon Oct 25, 2004 10:57 pm

There's no such thing as a good loss, but ...




Jim Ingraham/Staff Writer 10/25/2004

At its best, Browns football has always been a
spectacle. An event. Must-see TV. Must-gee
whiz-bang.
For most of the first five years of Browns
football A.A. (after Art), it has been a
spectacle, all right. A spectacle in the same
vein as the Titanic A.I. (after iceberg).
It was enough to Dwayne the Rudd out of you.
Helmet-tossing-triggered losses, how comes,
Holcombs, blown leads, blown calls, 2-yard
completions on third-and-3, overthrows,
underthrows, fumbles, bumbles, mumbles, missed
tackles, wished tackles and Big Money, The Wonder
Defensive Tackle.
Four years of it. Browns fans wondered if Browns
management was taking this as seriously as they
were.
But then, just when you thought it was time to
pack away once and for all your old Todd Philcox
jersey, the Browns play a game like Sunday.
At the risk of waxing oxymoronic, this was an
invigorating loss. Sure, it goes into the books
as a 34-31 defeat. But look deeper. The Browns,
with Frisman Jackson at wide receiver, took the
undefeated Philadelphia Eagles, with Terrell
Owens wide right, into overtime, and it took a
50-yard field goal to beat them.
On a day when the only thing that mattered - the
score - went wrong, there was a ton of stuff that
went right. So much stuff that Browns quarterback
Jeff Garcia, who was speaking of himself, might
have been speaking of the organization as a whole
when he said, "I really believe I took a step in
the right direction today. I'm starting to get
it."
So, too, it appears - finally - are the Browns.
"Nobody likes losing. It's sickening," said Coach
Butch Davis. "But you'd have to be an absolute
fool not to think our offense made progress
today."
Give His Butchness that. Sunday's game is the
first tangible evidence that the Browns are
getting better. That there is talent on that
roster, and - keep your fingers crossed! -
coaches wearing headsets who know how to use
them.
"There are no moral victories in the NFL, but no
one in this locker room should be hanging their
heads," said Browns tackle Ryan Tucker. "We are
pleased with the way we played. They just scored
last."
And first.
Working behind an offensive line that resembles a
condominium complex - average size per lineman:
6-foot-5, 325 pounds - quarterback Donovan McNabb
needed just two plays to take the Eagles 75 yards
to the end zone to start the game. A 65-yard pass
completion and a 10-yarder did it.
Just 43 seconds into the game, the Browns were
not only trailing, 7-0, but the Eagles were on
pace to score 581 points.
Whoa Nellie, right?
Wrong. The Browns responded by driving 66 yards
on the ensuing possession for a touchdown.
The joust was on.
"They are definitely among the elite teams today,
and we stood toe-to-toe and traded blows with
them," said Garcia.
The Eagles got in the last punch, and it was a
gut-buster - the 50-yard game-winning field goal
by David Akers.
But there was a lot to like about this Browns
loss.
Start with the offense gaining nearly 400 yards
against a quality opponent.
The Browns also outrushed the Eagles, and
averaged nearly 5 yards per carry.
Heck, at the 2-minute warning in the fourth
quarter, the Browns - get this - still had all
three of their timeouts. They didn't have to burn
any earlier in the half - as has been their habit
- because of chaos in the huddle or on the
sideline.
In a clutch 11-play, 54-yard touchdown drive that
tied the game with 36 seconds left to play in
regulation, Garcia and Dennis Northcutt
recognized a blitz and burned it - combing on a
critical 11-yard completion that brought the ball
to the Eagles' 7, which was a prelude to Garcia's
improvised 4-yard scramble for the game-tying
touchdown.
"That touchdown was totally Jeff," said Tucker.
"He played his butt off. He took us up and down
the field all day."
Whether Garcia can take the Browns to the
playoffs remains to be seen. But on a day when
they were beaten at home for the first time this
season - they had been 3-0 at home - the Browns
gave themselves and their fans legitimate reason
for optimism.
These weren't the Bengals.
These weren't the Redskins.
These were the Eagles. One of three undefeated
teams at the start of the day. It seemed like a
potential mismatch on paper. But the Browns took
the Eagles' best shot and dragged them kicking
and screaming into overtime.
"It's frustrating to lose the way we did," said
Browns tight end Aaron Shea. "But they've got a
good defense, and we threw some points on the
board."
The Browns may not be all the way back yet, but,
based on Sunday's game, the spectacle itself is.
And that's a start.
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