The Browns played their final away game of the season on Sunday, and just like most of the other ones, they lost. The Ravens went off to a 20-0 lead early in the third quarter before allowing Cleveland to make it close with a final score of 20-14. Joshua Cribbs scored first for the Browns with an 84 yard punt return. Seneca Wallace made it a one score game after he connected to Evan Moore for an 8 yard score. Cleveland would have received the ball with nearly two minutes left of the clock to make one final push for a win, but an unacceptable encroachment penalty allowed the Ravens to get a first down on a fourth and short. They kneeled out the clock to take the victory.
I mentioned how Seneca Wallace had the chance to prove his worthiness as a starter in this game. He didn’t exactly embarrass himself out there against one of the top defenses in the league, but didn’t exactly separate himself from Colt McCoy. He finished with a typical line that Colt has produced this year, finishing with 147 yards, one score and an INT. Wallace may have a chance to compete for a starting job next year, but no outside competition is brought in, Colt McCoy will likely be the favorite to start. Another big story going into the offseason will be what the Browns decide to do with Peyton Hillis. He had his best game of the season with 112 rushing yards on 24 carries. However, it has been much of a lost season for Hillis who struggled to stay healthy, and has been ineffective much of the time when playing. He also fought with management earlier this year about a contract extension. His best bet may be to stay in Cleveland, however, as he certainly did not do much to earn a long term deal. Helping his case to stay a Brown is the lack of offensive talent currently on the roster. Hardesty has been even less effective and healthy, so Cleveland would be smart to keep Hillis around.
Little was the leading receiver, but didn’t have an incredible game. He had 4 catches on 12 targets for 40 yards. He now has over 60 catches and over 700 yards on the season. A very impressive rookie season for Little, who has already emerged as the top target in the passing game.
The Browns lost their last 5 games, and 8 of their last 9. It certainly has been a disappointing season for Cleveland, but growing pains were somewhat expected. There was definitely higher expectations for some players, and more progress from players such as McCoy, Hillis, and Hardesty would have been made things much better for fans. They will try to end on a high note and take out the Steelers at home this Sunday.