One play can make all the difference on a football field.
With the win, the Browns improved to 2-6 and enter this week’s preparation for the Baltimore Ravens winners of two of their last three games. The Chargers dropped to 3-4 with the setback, their third straight defeat.
“I sure would like to score more points, but to score one more than they did is important because we all know it’s about winning,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said Monday. “We had a lot of guys in there that battled. It wasn’t pretty; it wasn’t perfect, but it’s something we can build on. Our guys are quickly onto the Ravens. To have another division game at home, I think it’s important that we show up, play well, learn from the first time we played against these guys and try to play even better, try to fight to get a victory.
“It’s important that when I keep talking about how we’re getting better that they see the results and we know the results in this business are based on winning. That’s what helps keep these guys going. They can see what it’s like on the other side of the fence and that helps keep them going. That’s why it’s good. Let’s face it, we all feel better. Everybody goes to work in Cleveland on Monday morning and it feels better when you win on Sunday. That’s just the reality of it and that’s what we’re fighting for each week.”
The game-time temperature hovered around 44 degrees and players and coaches had to contend with a constant rain that started on Friday and did not relent throughout the weekend. Shurmur felt the weather, specifically, the wind, which was measured at 19 miles an hour coming out of the northeast, could affect the game.
“The combination of the rain, the wind and of course, the cold, I felt like it was going to affect the game,” Shurmur said. “I would’ve never predicted 7-6. I just felt like there wouldn’t be a great deal of scoring. I knew it was going to be a tough day to throw the ball, kick the ball, catch the ball efficiently and it even affected the coin flip, in my opinion. That’s why we won it. We deferred it, which allowed us to kick off with the wind to begin the game. We took the ball in the second half and then, typically, teams will take the wind to kick off, which would have gotten us the wind in the fourth quarter. Had it come down to a field goal, that might have been significant. That’s why I chose to do it that way.”
Although the weather did affect the game, Shurmur felt his team learned from the experience of playing in the conditions they battled Sunday.
“The fact that it wasn’t perfect, the fact that they fought through the conditions and the elements and did the things necessary to win the game, I think that’s the lesson,” Shurmur said. “There are no ugly victories. That’s a win.”
PASSING THE BALL
“I think he battled,” Shurmur said. “We’ve all said that you evaluate a quarterback based on how he leads his team to victory and I think he battled throughout. At the end of the game, I think he did something smart. It was third-and-six and there are some quarterbacks in that four-minute situation that would’ve thrown the ball away. That’s the one case where taking the sack is the right thing to do and he did it. It was less than perfect, but most of the mistakes he made are very correctable and will be even better this week.”
BACK TO WORK
Before Shurmur could officially give the players the day off on Monday, the veterans elected to tell the coach that they would “see him tomorrow.” That move to report to work instead of enjoying an extra day off during the week was something that “impressed” Shurmur.
“I tend to get really happy after victories because you put so much into the game,” Shurmur said. “I do understand how important the process is and as you’ve all been in winning locker rooms, it’s good. That’s what you fight for. It made me feel good that they had the maturity. Even though they’re young, they have the maturity to know how important the process is. We’re a team that has a lot of improvement to make and we’re getting a lot done today. I think that made me feel good.
“The fact that they wanted to do it in the last week in October says a lot. I’ve been around a lot of other good teams that will do whatever they can to get a ‘See you Wednesday.’ That shows me that there’s a level of maturity. It shows me that these guys understand the importance of work.”
After having eight games to evaluate the Browns, Shurmur said he feels they are functioning “better as a team.”
“I think our young skill players on offense are better and we’re getting production,” Shurmur said. “We’ve won two games in the last three weeks. I think we’re getting some defensive players back that will help us. If you function better, you’re playing better. You found a way to win a couple games and you’re getting some players back that can help you win. That helps me stay positive.
“I see an enthusiasm and an energy there that’s good. I think it’s important that they’re good players, but I think we’ve added some youthful players on both sides of the ball that will help us moving forward.”
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