I watched the Browns lose to the Minnesota Vikings yesterday, and in many ways the game captured the futility of the Browns since they returned to the NFL. The Browns played a decent first half — particularly the defense — and led at halftime, 13-10. Even so, there were the normal danger signals. After the Browns got the ball on the Vikings 6-yard-line following a penalty, they could not punch the ball into the end zone and had to settle for three points. This has been a persistent problem for the Browns, who did not score an offensive touchdown in the last six games of last season. Other danger signs? A bad interception by Brady Quinn, apparently the result of a mix-up with Braylon Edwards, after the Browns were effectively moving the ball on the ground, and the usual assortment of ill-timed penalties.
The second half was a disaster from start to finish, marked by penalties, poor tackling, and almost comic ineptitude on offense. The defense, which had been stout during the first half, spent most of the half on the field, was worn down by repeated rushing attempts by Adrian Peterson, and finally gave up a long TD run by Peterson that put the game out of reach. In the meantime, the offense looked lost — relegated to two-yard runs and dink-and-dump passes without any meaningful effort to stretch the field. Brady Quinn had one of those embarrassing plays where he lost control of the ball as he got ready to throw and looked like Garo Yepremian during the Miami-Redskins Super Bowl. As the defense gave up scores, the offense never responded until the game was effectively over. The only positive was that the Browns ended their string of games without an offensive touchdown by scoring with a few seconds remaining in the game.
As usual, the Browns lost their home opener, and the season is off to a bad start. The Vikings are supposed to be one of the best teams in the NFL, so maybe the Browns aren’t as bad as they looked in the second half. Time will tell, but so far the signs aren’t very encouraging.