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Tavern talk: Browns miss their chance

Failure to call third-down run costly against Lions. Michael Lombardi

Print This November 24, 2009, 05:00 PM EST

It’s not often this season that we have a situation where we can break down the Browns or the Lions, but last Sunday they played a memorable game -- and, like most memorable games, bad clock management allowed the one team to win and the other to lose.

Here’s the situation: fourth quarter, the Browns hold the ball and have a six-point lead. Detroit has two timeouts left and must get the ball back. The Browns’ objective is to burn as much of the clock as possible but also take away all the Lions’ timeouts. The key is forcing the Lions to go the length of the field with no timeouts for the win. When dealing with a situation where a touchdown can win the game for the opponent, getting them to use their timeouts is a huge advantage.

Cleveland Browns at 3:40

1-10-CLV 20 (3:40) J.Lewis up the middle to CLV 21 for 1 yard (J.Hunter).

2-9-CLV 21 (3:01) J.Lewis up the middle to CLV 24 for 3 yards (L.Delmas).

Timeout #2 by DET at 02:53.

3-6-CLV 24 (2:53) (Shotgun) B.Quinn pass short right to C.Stuckey pushed ob at CLV 37 for 13 yards (W.James). P22

This call is risky. The Lions expected a run, but the first down was key, and now the potential for victory is close.

1-10-CLV 37 (2:47) J.Lewis up the middle to CLV 40 for 3 yards (M.White; A.Fluellen).

Timeout #3 by DET at 02:42.

Lions timeout here is a little quick, especially if the play clock was not going to run out. I would have let the clock move and call a timeout with less than 2:10 to go, which would force the run before the two-minute warning.

2-7-CLV 40 (2:42) J.Lewis right tackle to CLV 42 for 2 yards (M.White).

Two-Minute Warning

3-5-CLV 42 (2:00) (Shotgun) B.Quinn pass incomplete short left to M.Massaquoi.

FORGET THE PENALTY, FORGET THE SECOND TIMEOUT ALLOWING MATTHEW STAFFORD TO COME BACK IN THE GAME. THIS INCOMPLETE PASS COST THE BROWNS THE GAME. HAD THEY RUN THE BALL, THE CLOCK WOULD HAVE KEPT MOVING AND THE LIONS WOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO ADVANCE THE BALL IN TIME.

4-5-CLV 42 (1:57) R.Hodges punts 47 yards to DET 11, Center-R.Pontbriand. D.Northcutt to DET 12 for 1 yard (R.Ventrone).

Detroit Lions at 1:46

1-10-DET 12 (1:46) (Shotgun) M.Stafford pass short middle to C.Johnson to DET 25 for 13 yards (A.Elam). P21

1-10-DET 25 (1:20) (No Huddle, Shotgun) M.Stafford pass short middle to K.Smith to DET 29 for 4 yards (K.Maiava).

2-6-DET 29 (1:01) (No Huddle, Shotgun) M.Stafford pass short right to C.Johnson to DET 46 for 17 yards (E.Wright). P22

1-10-DET 46 (:45) M.Stafford spiked the ball to stop the clock.

2-10-DET 46 (:43) (Shotgun) M.Stafford pass short right to B.Pettigrew to CLV 43 for 11 yards (A.Elam). P23

1-10-CLV 43 (:27) M.Stafford spiked the ball to stop the clock.

2-10-CLV 43 (:25) (Shotgun) M.Stafford pass incomplete short middle to B.Pettigrew.

3-10-CLV 43 (:22) (Shotgun) M.Stafford pass short middle to W.Heller to CLV 32 for 11 yards (K.Maiava). P24

1-10-CLV 32 (:08) M.Stafford spiked the ball to stop the clock.

2-10-CLV 32 (:08) (Shotgun) M.Stafford pass deep left intended for C.Johnson INTERCEPTED by B.Pool [C.Mosley] at CLV 0. Touchback.

PENALTY on CLV-H.Poteat, Defensive Pass Interference, 31 yards, enforced at CLV 32 - No Play. X25

Timeout #2 by CLV at 00:00. Charged time out.

Timeout #3 by CLV at 00:00.

1-1-CLV 1 (:00) M.Stafford pass short middle to B.Pettigrew for 1 yard, TOUCHDOWN. P26

J.Hanson extra point is GOOD, Center-D.Muhlbach, Holder-N.Harris.

CLV 37 DET 38, 10 plays, 88 yards, 1 penalty, 1:46 drive, 15:00 elapsed

The Browns never allowed the runner to get out of bounds, and after each completion, the Lions had to spike the ball. Had the Browns just run it on the third-down play, this game is over.

What do you think?

To read about how the Saints are offering a blue print on how to beat teams across the league, view this article from Bleacher Report.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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