Browns-Lions: Report Card

Taking a look at the Browns last second loss, i.e., flipping previous grades upside-down...

Eric Mangini's difficult season continues.

Sunday the Browns had a game won about six different times yet still managed to lose after giving up a touchdown and extra point on untimed plays after time had expired.

A pass interference penalty on Hank Poteat set up the untimed downs, but Mangini's in-game decisions didn't help the cause.

First, Mangini called for a pass on third-and-5 on the first play after the two-minute warning. Detroit was out of timeouts, so just running the clock seemed a much wiser decision.

Then, as Detroit lined up to run the untimed down with backup quarterback Daunte Culpepper under center, Mangini called timeout from the sidelines.

He wanted to make sure his defense was set, but the timeout allowed the Lions to put starter Matt Stafford in the game. He promptly threw the game-winning touchdown pass.

After the game, Mangini would not admit Poteat's blatant interference call, then hinted that the Lions faked injuries to slow down the Browns no-huddle offense.

The loss, the decisions, the complaints -- none of it will help a 1-9 coach be any less beleaguered.

NOTES, QUOTES

--DB Hank Poteat said he didn't think he interfered with Bryant Johnson in the back of the end zone on Detroit's last play, but the film showed otherwise. Tape of the last pass showed Poteat "blocking" Johnson out of the back of the end zone -- with the ball in the air.

That's a penalty, and two officials recognized it and threw flags for pass interference. The Browns complained about the call.

"My understanding is, once the quarterback's out of the pocket, you can force the receiver out of bounds, and that's what I was trying to do," said Poteat. "That's what I was always coached to do."

--QB Brady Quinn had an outstanding game against one of the league's poorer defenses. Quinn threw for four touchdowns and 304 yards, and had the Browns in position to win. It's a game that should put Quinn back on firmer ground with the team, especially its future.

He threw downfield, he looked comfortable and he ran the offense well.

Given a chance to run a complete game plan, Quinn played very well and very efficiently. It was the first and best game by a Browns quarterback this season.

"We didn't win, though," Quinn said. "So you're never happy when you don't get a win."

PLAYER NOTES

--WR Mohamed Massaquoi had an excellent game facing a porous Lions defense. Massaquoi's five-reception day went for 115 yards and included a 59-yard touchdown.

--WR Chansi Stuckey came out of mothballs to catch five passes, including a 40-yard touchdown. It was his best game as a Brown. Stuckey had been near invisible since being acquired from the Jets.

--TE Michael Gaines made an excellent catch and scored on a late touchdown that appeared would give the Browns a victory. Gaines outfought a linebacker for the ball, then fought his way into the end zone.

--CB Eric Wright had an interception and nice return but said the Browns defense was simply not good enough against Matt Stafford. "We made him look like Peyton Manning," Wright scoffed.

--KR Josh Cribbs did not miss any time despite taking a shot to the neck in the final play against Baltimore. Cribbs played the entire game against the Lions, and though he did not do much on returns he did catch a TD pass and had an outstanding run on a quick WR screen.

REPORT CARD VS. LIONS

PASSING OFFENSE: A -- For the first time this season the Browns had a legitimate passing offense. Brady Quinn threw short, middle and down-the-field in rolling up 304 yards. Yes, the Lions were the opponent, but the Browns have not taken advantage of other weak opponents this season. Quinn's four-touchdown, 304-yard game stands on its merits, and puts him back in the team's quarterback picture -- assuming he follows this game with more good ones.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- The Browns didn't need to run the ball, but when they did they ran well. Cleveland totaled 131 yards on 40 carries, and were successful with every back they used. With Brady Quinn throwing so well the run game was not essential, but it was productive.

PASS DEFENSE: F -- It fits the Browns that on the day they find their long-lost offense, they lose their defense. How bad was it that the Browns allowed Matt Stafford to throw five touchdown passes? So bad that it hasn't happened since 1937. That's the last time a rookie had that many TD throws. The Browns had a 24-3 lead, and the reason they lost the game was the pass defense was non-existent. One play summed up the game: A short toss in the flat to running back Kevin Smith on the game's first play turned into a 62-yard gain because nobody bothered to cover Smith.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Detroit didn't try to run a lot because they were throwing so effectively, and when they did they didn't do a ton of damage. The Browns defense limited the Lions to 57 yards on 17 carries, but it was more or less irrelevant because anytime the Lions needed a play in the passing game they usually found it.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- The Browns were without Dave Zastudil, but Reggie Hodges had an outstanding game replacing him. Hodges averaged 37.2 yards per kick, and had four downed inside the 20-yard-line. He did an excellent job replacing the Browns MVP. That was the special teams highlight, as the Browns return game didn't do much and Phil Dawson's day was blemished by a kickoff out of bounds.

COACHING: D -- The Browns came to play against the Lions, and their offensive plan was (finally) right on the money. They gave Brady Quinn a complete game plan and he ran the offense well. They ran the ball for more than 100 yards and threw for more than 300. Problem was the team's defense was AWOL and the sideline decisions in the final couple minutes cost them a win. Instead of running clock and running the ball right after the two-minute warning, Eric Mangini had his team pass. This gave Detroit another minute for its final drive. Then, Mangini called out with Daunte Culpepper under center on Detroit's final play. Not only did that allow the Lions to get re-organized, it allowed starting QB Matt Stafford back into the game.

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