All it took was one very hot day in Tampa to bring the Browns back to earth, this after they seemed to have a lot of momentum entering the season after an offseason filled with mostly positive moves and coming off a four-game win streak to end 2009.
So much for that.
Jake Delhomme was filled with mistakes, as was fullback Peyton Hillis. Delhomme threw two picks, one of which directly got the Bucs back in the game after the Browns went up 14-3, and Hillis’ fumble gave Tampa Bay another scoring shot.
This all after the Browns seemed to dominate the first quarter and a half of football, getting ahead by 11 points and it looked like they were going for more when Delhomme threw a bad pick to Rhonde Barber that led to Tampa Bay then scoring to make it 14-10 at half.
Hillis’ fumble occurred on the first possession of the second half when the team got to the Bucs 15. A TD there and the Browns once again take control of a game they should have won.
After the fumble, the Browns gained only two more first downs the rest of the game and had only one more play over 10 yards.
The Bucs knockout blow came when QB Josh Freeman, playing with a bad thumb, went up top against first round pick Joe Haden for a 33-yard score to Michael Spurlock to give the Bucs a 17-14 lead.
The Browns every possession in the fourth quarter started inside their 10-yard line, expect one, which started at the 11. They never really came close to having a shot to give kicker Phil Dawson a chance to tie the game up at least.
“The feeling in this locker room is we gave that game away,” said linebacker Scott Fujita.
“We’ve got to get to the point where we’re playing to win the game and not making mistakes that cost us,” said coach Eric Mangini.
Delhomme was 9-of-19 in the second half and finished with a passer rating of 59.2. On the day he was 20-for-37 for 227 yards with a TD and two picks. Jerome Harrison had 9 carries for 52 yards, but really was not much of a factor other than a 39-yard-run.
“Our fans won’t tolerate us beating ourselves, like we just did,” Josh Cribbs said. “We just played Browns vs. Browns, and the Browns lost.”
Uh, whatever Josh. Bottom line is the team looked a lot more like pre-December 2009 than a team that was supposed to make strides in 2010.