Two reasons why Romeo Crennel should be left in Nashville when the team plane returns home this evening (I have more, but I don't want this column to be longer than the 15-page research papers I'm writing this week):
Trailing 21-6 at the start of the fourth quarter, he elects to kick a 39-yard field goal instead of trying to go for it on a fourth-and-nine. Obviously nine yards is a lot to ask for on fourth down, but a field goal only makes it a 12-point game—which requires two touchdowns to overcome. Trailing by 15 points, mind you, also requires two touchdowns to overcome.
There’s not enough time left in the game to kick four more field goals, though I’m sure Crennel would have preferred that strategy. Also, getting a touchdown, field goal and safety in the final 13 minutes is unlikely.
So why does Crennel opt to attempt this field goal? Umm, well…I have no idea.
The only explanation I can think of is, uhh—actually, I can’t think of any logic behind this decision. Except that Crennel thought our defense or special teams could force another turnover (asking a lot) or that he had full faith that Ken Dorsey could engineer not just two scoring drives, but two touchdown scoring drives over the last 10 or so minutes (REALLY asking a lot.)
OK, so the field goal is good. Phil Dawson is our team MVP, after all. We’re down 21-9, and shockingly, the defense gets a stop. It’s not the turnover, but hey, they also didn’t trip all over themselves, either.
The offense has it back, there’s less than nine minutes left, and the Browns face a fourth-and-one on their own 24. It’s really about fourth-and-one foot, to be honest. And what do we do?
Trot out the punt team, of course. And 15 seconds later, after a 44-yard punt return and a 25-yard TD run, the game is over.
Again, let’s try to think along with Romeo and figure out the rationale behind punting in this situation. You hope and pray that your defense can come up with another takeaway, which (again) is flawed logic – you can’t assume the other team is going to turn the ball over.
And if the defense forces a three-and-out again, Tennessee will still have bled at least two minutes off the clock with three running plays. They’ll punt and the Browns will have to go the length of the field to score the first touchdown that they need—remember, we’re down two touchdowns here—then need to come up with another quick three-and-out or recover an onside kick and move at least 60 yards for that second touchdown.
(With Ken Dorsey at quarterback. Have I mentioned that before? He hadn’t completed a pass in the NFL in over three years before today.)
Can anybody explain this to me? Anybody? Why a 4-8 team playing on the road against an 11-1 team would have two chances to try to push for the upset but declined both of them?
Wait, I got it—Crennel figured out that even if he doesn’t make any decisions on the sideline, he still gets paid the same for the game. The less work he has to do, the better.
Enjoy your final few paychecks, Romeo. You deserve it after helping put Browns fans through another miserable season.