The Cleveland Browns’ season is dangerously close to running off the rails.
‘Refs are never an excuse,’ but ...
After declaring that “the refs are never an excuse,” Mayfield used the officials as an excuse in the loss that dropped Cleveland to 2-4.
“The refs are never an excuse, and I’ll probably get fined for saying this,” Mayfield said. “But it’s pretty bad today. ... It ticks me off.”
Mayfield points to a pair of plays
Mayfield pointed to a couple of calls he disagreed with involving wide receiver Jarvis Landry.
He has a point. At least on one call.
With Seattle leading 25-20 late in the third quarter, Landry drew a flag for a blindside block on a Nick Chubb second-down catch-and-run.
Bad call against Landry
Landry squared up and hit Seattle safety Marquise Blair for a face-to-face block that helped Chubb round the corner for a 4-yard gain. It was a textbook block.
Instead of facing third-and-9 on the next play, the Browns had second-and-22 and punted two plays later.
Mayfield wanted TD on contested 4th-down play
The other call Mayfield contested happened early in the fourth quarter with the Browns still trailing, 25-20. He connected with Landry on fourth-and-goal at the 1, and Landry lost the ball into the end zone as he stretched over the goal line. The down was replayed after the Browns accepted a penalty for Seattle having too many men on the field.
But before the second attempt at fourth down, head coach Freddie Kitchens challenged the call on the field, arguing that Landry broke the plane before losing control of the ball. Replay didn’t give a conclusive angle that he did, and the ruling on the field was upheld.
Chubb was stopped for a 1-yard loss on the next play, resulting in a Browns turnover.
Did the calls matter in the end?
The Browns would go on to score a go-ahead touchdown on their next possession after the Seahawks punted from their own end zone after going three-and-out on their ensuing possession. But the Seahawks answered with a go-ahead touchdown on a 79-yard touchdown drive.
The Browns couldn’t answer after getting the ball back with 3:30 remaining. Mayfield’s pass to Dontrell Hilliard on Cleveland’s next drive bounced off the running back’s hands and into the arms of cornerback K.J. Wright, effectively ending the game. It was Mayfield’s third interception Sunday.
So while Mayfield had a legitimate gripe with at least one call, it’s difficult to argue that either of the Landry plays were the difference in the game. Had the screen been called correctly, the Browns would have still been stuck in third-and-long. On the touchdown Mayfield wanted, Cleveland ended up scoring a few plays later.
Mayfield’s gripes about the refs don’t indicate that the game should have gone the other way. They indicate that he and the Browns are grasping at straws as their season spirals out of control.
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