December 18, 2014

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Browns notes: Trent Richardson says Browns gave up on running game too soon

CLEVELAND — Browns running back Trent Richardson broke two franchise rookie records Sunday, but he was in no mood to celebrate after Cleveland’s 38-21 loss to the Washington Redskins.

The rookie from Alabama criticized the playcalling of coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Brad Childress, specifically citing their abandonment of the running game in the second half.

“The game plan we had, we should’ve stuck with it,” said Richardson, who rushed for 28 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. “If we did, things could’ve turned out different.

“In the first half, we called some draws, play-action stuff. When we did it, it worked — and I think we should’ve stuck with it.”

Richardson, who also made three receptions, only logged two rushing attempts after halftime. Browns coaches called 17 pass plays to just three runs in the final two quarters — while the Browns were being outscored 28-7.

“It’s shocking, but I gotta let Coach do what he do,” Richardson said of his light workload in the second half. “It’s like I said before, the game is bigger than me.”

On a positive note, “T-Rich” now has 11 rushing touchdowns, 12 total scores and 72 points on the season.

The third overall pick in the NFL Draft eclipsed the previous Cleveland rookie marks of nine rushing touchdowns (by Jim Brown in 1957), 10 total scores (by Eric Metcalf in 1989 and Brown), and 66 points (by Jerry Kauric in 1990).

“It means a lot, but we still lost at the end of the day, so it doesn’t mean nothing for real,” said Richardson, who leads the Browns with 897 rushing yards and 48 receptions. “I’m not down about this game, but I’m very upset about this game, so it really didn’t mean as much without that W.”

Richardson also went out of his way to apologize to every fan who was in attendance at Cleveland’s 2012 home finale, even though many of them were in their cars well before the final whistle.

“Today, we let ourselves down and we let the whole city of Cleveland down,” he said. “Especially the season ticket holders, I feel bad for them. We’re supposed to go out with a blast. It was a big ballgame and we didn’t do what we were supposed to do.”

Brownie bits

  • Wide receiver Joshua Cribbs and kicker Phil Dawson — both unrestricted free agents at the end of the season — might have played their final home game in Cleveland. The usually outspoken Cribbs was overcome by emotion in the locker room and declined to speak with the media before leaving. The two-time Pro Bowl selection returned seven kickoffs for 191 yards, two punts for 15 yards and added a season-long 16-yard rush out of the Wildcat formation. Cribbs (9,913) also moved past Glyn Milburn (9,788) into fifth place in NFL history in kickoff return yards and became the sixth player all time with 12,000 combined return yards. Dawson converted both of his extra-point attempts, but was not called upon to try a field goal. He has 1,261 points in 14 seasons with the Browns, including 106 this year, which is 14 shy of his career high set in 2007. “I care about Cleveland and I wanted to make sure the people knew that today,” Dawson said. “You never know what’s going to happen in the offseason, so days like this take you down a road to say your proper goodbyes, just in case.”
  • Safety T.J. Ward made his first interception since 2010, returning it a career-long 36 yards. Defensive ends Jabaal Sheard and Juqua Parker each had a sack, while linebacker D’Qwell Jackson made a team-best nine tackles.
  • Rookie wide receiver Travis Benjamin’s 69-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Weeden in the fourth quarter was the team’s second-longest offensive play of the year. “I’m pretty sure it was a busted coverage because as I got on (the cornerback), he just seemed like he was jogging,” Benjamin said. “I ran right past him.”

Redskins report

  • Quarterback Kirk Cousins was outstanding in his first NFL start, completing 26 of 37 throws for 329 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a 104.4 passer rating. The former Michigan State star fell just short of Washington’s rookie record of 334 yards, set by Ed Rubbert in 1987, while filling in for injured superstar Robert Griffin III. “I had all the faith in the world in Kirk, so I never doubted him at all,” said running back Alfred Morris, who rushed for a game-high 87 yards and two touchdowns. “He did a heck of a job going out there.”
  • Mount Union product Pierre Garcon made a game-high six receptions for 65 yards, while fellow wide receiver Leonard Hankerson had two touchdown catches. Garcon, who chose to sign with Washington over Cleveland last summer as a free agent, also picked up a 15-yard penalty for taunting Jackson in the third quarter. “Oh, my God, you always hear him talking,” Jackson said. “It’s like, ‘Who are you talking to?’ I’m too old for that. He’s fiery, I get it. He’s a good player, but he just talks too much.”
  • Cleveland native and John Carroll graduate London Fletcher recorded an interception and a team-high seven tackles. “It was big. It was special to me,” Fletcher said of winning in his hometown. “I tried to downplay it in my mind, but when we got on the buses at the airport, the route we took to the hotel went right through my old neighborhood. It started to sink in and it started to get more special for me.”
  • Redskins coach Mike Shanahan is 5-0 in his career against the Browns.

Out of action

  • The Browns’ inactives were cornerback Trevin Wade, safety Eric Hagg, running back Brandon Jackson, tight end Brad Smelley, wide receiver Josh Cooper, guard Jarrod Shaw and fullback Owen Marecic. Ward suffered a left knee injury in the third quarter and did not return, while defensive end Frostee Rucker exited with a groin injury in the fourth. “We’ll see what happens overnight and how extensive (their injuries) may be,” Shurmur said.
  • Washington’s inactives were quarterback Robert Griffin III (right knee sprain), wide receivers Brandon Banks and Dezmon Briscoe, linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy, guards Adam Gettis and Josh LeRibeus and tackle Tom Compton. Tackle Tyler Polumbus (concussion), linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (shoulder), and center Will Montgomery (knee strain) were hurt during the game.

Extra points

  • A crowd of 65,083 was in attendance, officially extending the sellout streak at Cleveland Browns Stadium to 14 full years. The facility is likely to be renamed before next season as Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III plans on selling sponsorship rights.
  • The kickoff conditions were unseasonably warm at 59 degrees with 67 percent humidity. Cleveland wore its brown tops and white pants, while Washington was in white tops and yellow pants.
  • The Browns still lead the all-time series with the Redskins by a 33-11-1 margin, including a 17-7 edge in Cleveland. They also finished the season with a 4-4 record at home.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.