BEREA—With the Steelers officially being eliminated from the playoffs, there is not a lot of incentive for the Browns as they travel to finish the season at Heinz Field.
However, a win for the Browns would complete a season sweep of their rival and send the Steelers home with a losing season at 7-9.
“We all know how important the rivalry is with the Steelers,” Pat Shurmur said. “Last year, we were throwing a ‘Hail Mary’ for the win. That would have been good for the team for a win to go into the offseason.”
Shurmur said that despite not making the playoffs, he feels the team is closer than a year ago.
“We’re one of 20 teams not in the playoffs and you want to be one of the 12 that are in the playoffs,” he said. “You have to look at the season in its entirety.
“There was a period of time where we won three in a row,” he said. “We’re playing a lot of young players, who I think will form a good foundation for the team moving forward. I believe we’re a better football team, more ready to make the jump than we were last year.
“I think we’re building a team that is relevant,” he said. “It’s somewhat of a journey. That’s just the way it is. We had this journey with change and looming change and dealing with it.”
Shurmur measures the Browns despite coming up short the last two weeks as being in the games with playoff caliber teams.
“I am not discouraged, it was disappointing.” Shurmur said. We got beat by a good football team. We played against a playoff team that was quarterbacked by a Hall of Fame quarterback. Midway through the third quarter it was 14-6 and then it got away from us. We played against a good football team but didn’t do enough to win the game.
“I think we’ve made progress as a team, the way we function, the players we added,” he said. “I think we’re much improved from last year. Against the Redskins, it was 14-10 at the half and then it got away from us. We have to talk about finishing and getting where you need to be.”
Shurmur acknowledged the good feeling from winning three games in a row is a distant memory.
“That’s what winning does,” he said. “We all know what winning is all about. Unfortunately, we have meetings like this when you don’t win. It’s important to put the pieces together and get ready to go play Pittsburgh.”
TRIch, Weeden Update: QB Brandon Weeden left Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter with an injured right shoulder as LB Von Miller sacked him. Weeden was 12-of-19 for 104 yards with no touchdowns and no touchdowns. His rating was 77.5.
“We got banged up a little bit and are still evaluating,” Shurmur said.
After the game, Weeden was not made available to speak to reporters, but did say, he was fine and he would talk to the media on Wednesday.
On the season, Weeden is 297-of-517 (57.4 pct.) for 3,385 yards with 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. His rating is 72.6, which is only ahead of Mark Sanchez (67.9)and Matt Cassel (66.7), both whom have been benched by their teams.
Shurmur called Weeden’s injury a sprain. He felt that Weeden played pretty well before getting injured.
“I thought he was playing a pretty efficient game,” he said. “For the most part, I thought he was pretty good on his throws.”
Richardson left the stadium in Denver in a walking boot and his status is unknown for the season finale. If Richardson can’t play, he will finish his rookie season just shy of the 1,000 yard mark with 950 yards on 267 carries (3.6 avg.). He did break Jim Brown’s record for rushing touchdowns as a rookie with 11 and also broke Brown’s rookie record for rushing yards (942).
“Trent had X-rays didn’t show a break,” Shurmur said. “He’s actually feeling better today.”
Richardson currently leads the Browns in receptions with 51 for 36 yards with a touchdown. If Richardson cannot play, WR Greg Little (50)or WR Josh Gordon (46) have a chance to overtake Richardson in that category.
Richardson averaged 5.9 yards a carry with 53 yards on just nine carries.
“I thought he ran the ball well,” Shurmur said. “He made a couple of nice plays. When you get down three scores, it’s hard to keep running the ball.”
Shurmur said if either player can play, he would most likely play them against the Steelers.
Colt’s Play: QB Colt McCoy saw his first extensive action after Weeden’s injury and Shurmur thought he did alright.
“I thought he battled,” Shurmur said. “It’s a difficult situation when you go in as a backup quarterback.”
McCoy led the Browns on a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive and hit WR Greg Little on a six-yard touchdown pass. McCoy finished 9-of-17 for 79 yards and a touchdown.
It is unknown if Weeden will return to play against the Steelers or if McCoy will start in the place where he made his last start.
Giving Up: Shurmur was asked why the Browns didn’t just run the ball near the end of the game, rather than try to throw the ball down field. Richardson was hurt when he was in the game at the end.
“You just run the ball to get out of there and warm up the buses?” Shurmur said. “We were just trying to move the ball. You don’t want anybody to get hurt, but think it’s important to try to do what you can to win the game.
“I get it,” he said. “What are we going to do? Stop playing? I think what you do is see where you’re at and try to get ready for the next game.”
McCoy said after the game that he threw a pass into the dirt to give his teammates a time to catch their breath.
“I haven’t see Colt today,” Shurmur said. “That’s the first I heard about it. It’s not bad to throw the ball away if deemed necessary. I need to get more information on that before I comment.”
Brown,Greco Injury: CB Sheldon Brown left Sunday’s game with a head injury and his status is unknown. Also, OL John Greco injured his thumb, but Shurmur said he should be able to play.
Cribbs Twitter Outburst: KR/WR Josh Cribbs took to Twitter after the loss to the Broncos to vent his frustration.
“See all the negativity on twitter after I gave my life to this (….) So 2 all u who are against me (…)all y’all! I’m still gonna do me!”
Cribbs later deleted the post but added.
“2 all browns fans who are with us win or lose, we got Pitt next week & this loss makes us hungry for a W!!!”
Cribbs fumbled a punt that turned into a Broncos touchdown. He returned two punts for 11 yards and two kickoffs for 6 yards. He also ran once out of the wildcat for three yards.
Cribbs might be playing his final game with the Browns this week against the Steelers as he’s set to become a free agent after the season. Cribbs was not available for comment as Shurmur gave the players the day off.
Shurmur was asked if he spoke to Cribbs about the incident.
“I did and I told him that’s not acceptable,” Shurmur said. “I told him why we don’t do that. He’s remorseful. I told him he shouldn’t be reading tweets after games. Emotions are raw after a game and it’s important we use good judgment and part is to not read this.”
Shurmur said he is not on Twitter, but said he was informed of Cribbs’ comments.
“There are people around here who are informed.”
Shurmur was asked if Cribbs would be fined or disciplined.
“Anything like that is a team issue and I wouldn’t comment on that.”
Mobile Robertson: LB Craig Robertson had a career-best 14 tackles against the Broncos. He had 12 solo tackles and two assists, including one tackle for a loss. Robertson started opposite of LB D’Qwell Jackson in a 4-2-5 defensive alignment.