Following Sunday’s 23-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in overtime at Cowboys Stadium, the Cleveland Browns’ coaches went through their normal routines of breaking down the film and going over corrections with the players.
When watching the film, coach Pat Shurmur said the loss was “disappointing,” but that the team had “some things in that game that we can build on.”
Shurmur started his Monday afternoon press conference by complimenting the special teams’ units, who limited Dallas to just 27 yards in punt returns and did not allow a single yard in kickoff returns because
“They’ve taken pride in their performance,” Shurmur said. “I don’t think it’s ever happened, but we had all touchbacks. Phil made all his kicks. You can talk about punt returns and we traded one for one with them. They had a dynamic returner. I thought our punter’s been doing a good job.
“There’s some good stuff there. I think some of the youth, some of the linebackers, some of the veteran players that are involved, make a significant impact, like Josh Cribbs. They tried to onside-kick us and we defended it. There was a lot of good in there and I think we need to keep building on that.”
Defensively, the Browns held the Cowboys to 320 yards of total offense, only 63 of which came on the ground combined between running backs Felix Jones and Lance Dunbar, as well as quarterback Tony Romo. Led by the five sacks that defensive linemen
“On defense, I thought there was a whole lot of good that happened yesterday,” Shurmur said. “We’re getting more of our defensive linemen back. Their run game did not make a significant impact on us and we did a good job of putting pressure on Tony Romo. I always feel it’s most important to get pressure on the quarterback to give yourselves a chance against a team that likes to throw the football and has dynamic weapons, so that was good.
“We did give up some plays in the passing game, but that happens against every team. I was proud of the way our guys in the secondary battled. As we move forward, when we’re in base, we’ll put two corners out there. When we’re in nickel, we’ll put in three. If we go to dime, we’ll put in four. Whoever those guys are, I’ve got trust that they’re going out there to do a good job. We’ve got to make more plays than they do to win the football game.”
When the Browns had the football, they converted 19 first downs, gained 311 yards of total offense and converted six of 15 third-down attempts.
“I felt we were better in third downs,” Shurmur said. “We scored in the red zone. There were no penalties in a loud environment. We didn’t really have any communication (issues). We had one where the helmet went out. At the end of the game, we had our three timeouts, which allowed us to get the football back.
“It was a team thing to get ahead, so I’m proud of our guys for that. We’ve just got to find a way to finish. That’s where we’re at. I want them to take everything they can away from that tape that’s going to help us prepare for Pittsburgh, which is now in our vision and that’s the most important thing.”
LEARNING TO FINISH
The Browns were ahead of the Cowboys, 13-0, heading into the second half of Sunday’s game, but were outscored, 23-7, over the final two quarters and overtime. When asked about learning to finish games, Shurmur said it is something you have “got to do.”
“I think every game is a different story,” Shurmur said. “We talk about finishing all the time. We talk about starting fast; we talk about fighting throughout; we talk about finishing. We do that all the time. We’ve just got to find a way to finish. We’ve got a whole locker room of winners. This whole organization is full of winners. We’ve just got to put it all together and do it.
“These guys love playing football. They believe in what they’re doing and I see them, right now, getting ready to play Pittsburgh.”
UPDATE ON SKRINE
Late in regulation, second-year cornerback
“We’ll just see where he’s at as we move forward through the week,” Shurmur said. “I thought he battled extremely hard. We like to play bump-and-run coverage a good part of the time and he made an effort to do what we’re coaching.”
NEXT MAN UP
With Skrine out of the lineup, the Browns relied heavily on undrafted rookie
“He’s really impressed me since he’s been here,” Shurmur said. “He plays a lot on special teams and much like guys that initially become role players or special teams players, we’re developing him to play in scrimmage snaps. He’s done a good job of developing there and will continue to do so.”
PASSING THE BALL
Weeden finished the game 20 of 35 for 210 yards and the two touchdowns to Watson. He completed passes to six of the nine players he targeted with passes and posted a 93.8 quarterback rating in the setback.
He also led the go-ahead scoring drive in the fourth quarter after losing a fumble when he was sacked by linebacker Anthony Spencer.
“I thought it was better than the Ravens game,” Shurmur said of Weeden’s performance. “He threw two touchdown passes, and for the most part, I thought he was pretty efficient. There’s still plenty of things in there he could do better. After the strip-sack, I think he went five for five. I think he did recover from that.”
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