Two of the Browns more important players did not come through against the Ravens.
Brandon Weeden looked rattled against the Ravens rush and coverages, and something he said initially in his postgame press conference indicated he was a little intimidated by the presence of Ed Reed.
Weeden said he was surprised that the Ravens played so much Cover-two — a result, no doubt, of losing cornerback Lardarius Webb, and added: “When you’ve got 20 (Reed) back there hawking the center of the field, you know that’s tough.”
Recognizing Reed is a good thing, but at some point you have to believe your abilities are good enough to win. Early in the game Weeden missed a potential touchdown to Greg Little because Reed was lurking. Weeden threw short, and the Browns kicked a field goal.
Later, Weeden threw an interception on a pass in the direction of Jordan Cameron that Weeden said he tried to throw into the ground.
“I think Brandon is going to watch the film and see that there were some things he’d like to have back,” said coach Pat Shurmur, adding the obligatory “he battled.”
Translation: Weeden did not have one of his better games.
The best evidence: The Browns got inside Baltimore’s 20-yard-line five times and never got into the end zone. That largely falls on the quarterback.
This isn’t the end of the world, nor does it mean it’s time to write the guy off. Just that Weeden had a bad day. It happens.
Defensively, Joe Haden had a very rough game. A few days after I sent him some serious love, Haden was treated by the Ravens like he was some guy named Skrine. Joe Flacco threw at him without fear or hesitation.
And with the game on the line Torrey Smith abused Haden after the catch to score the game-winning touchdown. Smith caught a quick in, took a step toward the middle and spun away to the outside as Haden raced in thinking he’d make the tackle to prevent a first down. He prevented the first down, just not the touchdown.
I’m not sure what to make of Haden. He patiently answered questions after the game, and did not duck from responsibility.
He has immense potential and a ton of talent, but he got that four-game suspension and there are times when his celebrity seems to get in his way.
The temptation is to say that the Browns do not know how to handle victory, that they lack the maturity, and Haden is the embodiment of that reality. But it’s tough to tell if the temptation is an overreaction.
What is true is that players have to treat every play, every down as if it can change the game.
That didn’t happen Sunday.