By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 20, 2008
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards slowly picked himself up off the field after quarterback Derek Anderson's final pass attempt fell incomplete deep in Washington territory, the star's disappointment showing as he walked toward the visiting sideline yesterday evening.
The third-down throw was maybe a few inches too low, Anderson said, and Edwards perhaps was one step from making the catch. Instead, the final incompletion, followed by place kicker Phil Dawson's 54-yard field goal attempt sailing wide right, became a fitting close to an afternoon during which the offense struggled to do much of anything until it was too late.
Until the fourth quarter, an offense that six days before had been so effective in a win over the New York Giants couldn't get on the same page in a 14-11 loss to Washington.
Anderson was inconsistent and off the mark on several throws in the first three quarters. And when he was accurate, the receivers struggled to hold on to his passes -- there were many drops in the game, with Edwards the main offender.
After the game Edwards, who finished with four catches for 58 yards, took responsibility for his poor showing, saying he had been taken out of the game mentally after the early struggles.
"I think frustration sometimes leads to some things," Edwards said. "I think I was a little frustrated early on in the game, and it just messed with my game. As a professional, as a guy who has been here four years, Pro Bowl last year, it's my job to block out frustrations and play ball. That's my job on this team, and that's what they expect me to do.
"So I just think frustrations got to me today, and I just didn't perform when they needed me to. Got to work on that and just got to move on after tomorrow, learn from this game."
With Anderson and his offensive teammates struggling, a passing attack that had been so effective in last week's win over New York -- racking up 310 yards -- more closely resembled the struggling unit that managed 368 passing yards total in three consecutive losses to open the season.
In the first half, Anderson completed 3 of 14 attempts for 17 yards, and Cleveland picked up just four first downs, wasting a heavy advantage in field position.
"I think it's a combination of things," Browns Coach Romeo Crennel said of Anderson's performance. "Here again I think this team reverted back a little bit to some of the things we did early in the year as far as offensively and what was happening. It's hard to blame one particular guy, but as the quarterback [Anderson] takes a lot of the blame because he's the one with the ball in his hands. He had some drops early in the game and some overthrows, and we just didn't do well enough early on."
The Browns finally found a rhythm in the fourth quarter, and Anderson (14 of 37, 136 yards) connected on 4 of 8 passes to move Cleveland to the Redskins 1-yard line. Washington came up with a goal-line stand, but after a Clinton Portis fumble Anderson connected with Edwards for 20 yards and tight end Kellen Winslow for eight to set up a one-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Cribbs. Cleveland pulled within three after a two-point conversion pass.
But after getting the ball back with 1 minute 51 seconds to play and driving 35 yards to the Redskins 36-yard line, Anderson threw three consecutive incompletions -- the final one just missing Edwards, and Cleveland fell to 2-4.
And six days after feeling as if their offense had taken those critical steps toward resembling the team that ranked eighth in total offense last season, Cleveland again was left searching for answers.
"If I knew that I'd probably be a better coach, and we'd be consistent all the time," Crennel said. "We're not consistent all the time, and that's why we end up losing."