I know many of you will not relate to this, or find this strange, but I came out of yesterday's game with a lot of optimism. Yes, the loss when we had several opportunities to put this game away hurts. But when I think about how this is the best defense in the league, and we weren't SUPPOSED to win this game, I didn't come away as disappointed in the team's performance as I did in the Jets, Raiders or Chargers losses.
First off, when playing against the best defense in the league, being able to move the ball and score the way the offense did at many times in this game was really encouraging. It means the stuff we've seen over the past few weeks against lesser defenses isn't just a fluke. Yes, there were mistakes made. Some bad passes, some bad decisions. But to defend those, the downfield coverage was excellent. And the pass rush was strong and consistent. The first INT was a poor decision by McCown / or great defense by Denver. The second INT was McCown trying to throw the ball away and getting hit at the same time. It sucked, but that's what happens when the pressure is too much. But we negated those INTs with three of our own, one also being a pick-6 so those plays didn't necessarily lose us the game.
In the past, against a D like this, the Browns would have put up like 6 points on 100 yds of total offense. I know you remember those years.
I felt the Defense did some really nice things. Yes, their offense isn't as good as it should be, but it is still Peyton Manning. . . and ultimately he did outlast the Browns. The big issue still is that run defense, making it clear that the number one priority in the offseason has to be run-stopping DEs and LBs.
A few other points:
- I think Turbin looked great, and is a great complementary back. Liked his strength and power. But bobbling the pitch in OT and taking a loss was a big factor in the outcome of the game.
- I saw some fire and excitement out of Pettine on the sideline, I loved seeing that. We've seen so many stoic, numb coaches on the sideline here, Pettine is a breath of fresh air at times.
- The decision to go for 2 points made perfect sense to me at the time. Up 4 vs up 5 vs up 6. . . 4 and 5 are about the same, I'd prefer to be up 6 and require a TD to win the game, especially with the long extra points.
- I too felt that there were a lot of Denver DBs hitting receivers early. . . the incomplete to Hartline the play before the INT, that defender grabbed Hartline's facemask when he turned around. . . no call. BS. Hartline was justifiably upset.
- Travis Benjamin is legit.
But, still, some nice things to grow on. Sucks it was a loss when we had several opportunities to win, but I don't feel very gloomy about the rest of the season right now. It's nice to be in exciting games.