September 30, 2014

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Chiefs 16, Browns 14: Familiar ring as Browns blow it in the 2nd half

CLEVELAND — The Browns decided to announce Jim Brown first in the Ring of Honor ceremony Sunday so they could move onto the hon­orees and families in atten­dance and enjoy the moment.

That’s the only quality half­time adjustment made by the Browns in the first two games.

The Browns didn’t score in the second half for the second straight week. They led at half­time and entering the fourth quarter for the second straight week, but gave up just enough points to lose — for the second straight week.

“We’re losing a lot of games that we should win,” Joshua Cribbs said.

The easiest part of the scheduled concluded with the Browns 0-2.

Bring on Baltimore.

More photos below.

Ryan Succop’s 23-yard field goal with 7:41 remaining gave the Kansas City Chiefs a 16-14 victory Sunday to ruin the home opener. The Browns had the ball twice with a chance to retake the lead, but managed a single first down.

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“We’re just coming out a lit­tle flat in the second half,” said quarterback Seneca Wallace, the replacement starter for Jake Delhomme, who was on the sideline with his right ankle in a walking boot. “It happened again today, but I can’t really say why.”

Brown’s absence and feud with new president Mike Holmgren took some of the luster off the unveiling of the Ring of Honor. The team’s stag­nant second-half offense killed any excitement about the product on the field.

Fewer fans were on hand to witness the disappointment, as the attendance was announced at 65,377, about 8,000 under capacity. Those who showed up wouldn’t have missed much if they had left following the half­time ceremony, where the biggest cheers went to Hall of Fame tight end and Ravens general manager Ozzie New­some.

The Browns had the ball for only 9:29 of the second half. They totaled three first downs, one on a penalty. They con­verted one third down for the second straight week and gained 55 yards, after totaling 187 in the first half.

The Chiefs didn’t look like a Super Bowl contender, but they made just enough adjustments and plays after halftime to grab the win and start a surprising 2-0. They won four games last season.

Matt Cassel converted two third-and-6s on the half’s opening drive to set up a 26-yard field goal and cut the lead to 14-13. Jamaal Charles ran for 7 yards on an inside handoff on third-and-6 early in the fourth quarter to keep alive a 14-play, 68-yard drive that consumed 6:31 and ended with the winning kick.

The Browns defense forced three field goals deep inside the red zone and didn’t give up a touchdown, but the offense had no answer.

“We got to get that ‘W’ at the end, and we didn’t,” end Robaire Smith said of the defense. “Evidently we didn’t play good enough.”

Coach Eric Mangini was quick to blame selfinflicted wounds. The Browns committed two turnovers (they had three in the opener in Tampa Bay) and nine penalties for 78 yards.

Jerome Harrison fumbled at the Cleveland 23-yard line in the first quarter, setting up a field goal. Wallace had an interception returned 33 yards by Brandon Flowers for a touchdown in the second quarter that gave Kansas City a 10-7 lead.

“I feel like we had a lot of this conversation last week,” Mangini said to the media. “When you have a turnover that goes for a touchdown and you have another turnover that sets up three points, (you have) a 10-point swing in a game that’s decided by a very small margin.

“Too many penalties. These are all things that we can control, that we should control.”

Mangini’s point is legitimate, but the turnovers and penalties aren’t the only problems. The Browns’ plan seems to be: Keep games close, limit the mistakes and make a big play at the finish. They’ve been able to stay in the games, but the pressure to play perfectly is mounting.

“We just have to finish like we’re starting,” said receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, who couldn’t make a long catch on the sideline late in the fourth quarter when the ball popped out as he hit the ground.

Wallace was the 15th starting quarterback for the Browns since 1999.With Delhomme inactive — he wasn’t healthy enough to dress as the third quarterback — his availability for next week is in doubt and Wallace may get the call again.

He went 16-for-31 for 229 yards, a 65-yard touchdown to Cribbs, the interception and a 73.2 rating. He scrambled once for 4 yards and was sacked once for 3. He couldn’t get past the pick.

“Just a bad, bad mistake by me,” he said. “I take full responsibility for what happened today. It was a ball I know I shouldn’t have thrown out to the flat and I did. It was late. Those are mistakes we can’t have and it came back and bit us in the butt.”

The offensive production for both teams was a far cry from their December meeting, when they combined for more than 900 yards. Harrison was held to 33 yards and a 2.1 average after rushing for a team-record 286 last year. Cribbs had two 100-yard kickoff returns for scores in Kansas City, but the Chiefs kicked away from him all day. The Browns limited Charles to 49 yards on 11 carries.

Charles split time with Thomas Jones (22 for 83), who was able to pick up the pivotal yard on fourth-and-1 from the Cleveland 35 with 2:00 left. He leaped over the pile and was given a first down by the nose of the ball, ending the drama. Phil Dawson never had the chance to attempt a winning kick, but missed from 42 yards to end the first half. An unnecessary roughness penalty on Alex Mack cost the Browns 15 yards and likely made the difference in Dawson’s try.

“We are not going to play that way, you just make it harder,” Mangini said of the penalties. “We don’t practice it, we don’t tolerate it, it’s not good football, it’s not smart football and it’s not winning football.”

But it does sound like Browns football.

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Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.

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