BEREA - A day later, the use of two timeouts to unsuccessfully challenge one Steelers touchdown remained puzzling.
However, one thing is clear. The Browns` system for challenging a call needs improvement. They are 2-for-21 on replay challenges in coach Romeo Crennel`s three years.
Crennel was 1-for-8 in 2005 and 0-for-7 last year. Player personnel director T.J. McCreight took over duties this year as the replay adviser in the pressbox, and the Browns are 1-for-6. Through nine weeks, 39-of-124 (31 percent) challenges leaguewide were successful.
During his news conference Monday, Crennel accepted responsibility for the decision to use a second timeout that cost the Browns precious seconds as they tried to force overtime in a 31-28 loss to the Steelers. He may have had a chance to avoid the situation altogether, but didn`t react quickly enough in a chaotic situation.
A player on the field for the extra point - Crennel wouldn`t divulge the name - called timeout as Crennel was deciding whether to challenge Pittsburgh`s go-ahead 2-yard touchdown pass with 3:13 remaining. According to a league spokesman, if Crennel had thrown the challenge flag fast enough, he could`ve avoided losing a second timeout when he challenged unsuccessfully following the initial timeout.
"It`s up to the judgment of the officials," Greg Aiello wrote in an e-mail after talking with supervisor of officials Mike Pereira. "If it`s essentially simultaneous, the challenge will prevail."
If Crennel had realized fast enough that a timeout had been called, he should`ve tried to get a challenge to supersede the timeout. Why use a timeout to decide if you should challenge when the worst thing that can happen from an unsuccessful challenge is a lost timeout?
But Crennel wasn`t expecting a player to call timeout, so he didn`t immediately throw the challenge flag.
"Generally, they don`t have that freedom to call a timeout in a challenge situation," Crennel said of the players.
Someone on the sideline, likely an assistant coach, was signaling for a timeout and a player saw it. After the timeout had been taken, Crennel listened to McCreight, who had the chance to look at several more replays.
"They indicated that they thought the ball had maybe hit the ground, that he didn`t have possession of it all the way through," Crennel said. "Generally on scoring plays it might be worth (challenging). That`s what I chose to do and it cost us at the end."
The Browns had to rush on their final drive with no timeouts and settle for a 52-yard field-goal attempt by Phil Dawson that fell 2 or 3 yards short.
Linebacker Willie McGinest, 35, blamed himself for the loss Sunday, then told reporters he`d bounce back.
"I`m confident in myself," he said. "I know I`ll come back and play hard. I`m not going to get deterred by this. I`m coming to work Monday, coming with a lot of anger, a lot of energy."
Crennel was asked if McGinest could still be effective.
"He missed one tackle that would have been critical for us," Crennel said of a third-down scramble by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "But he also made some plays that helped this team. He`s being a professional about it and he understands and realizes that he could have played better."
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
Crennel was asked what he saw when he watched film of Darnell Dinkins` holding penalty on Joshua Cribbs` punt return before the final drive. The penalty cost the Browns 29 yards, from Pittsburgh`s 38-yard line to the Cleveland 33.
"He was playing pretty hard on that play and it looked like he got tangled up in the bodies and the guy he was blocking got tripped up," Crennel said. "That guy ended up going down and Dinkins went down with him.
"There`s not much you can do when they call penalties. Whether you like it, whether it was a good call or not, there`s nothing you can do about it."
Crennel said he was comfortable with his decision to go for the
52-yard field goal in the final seconds, despite being outside Dawson`s range.
"It was fourth down and we had to get the ball out of bounds and a first down to have a chance to have another play," he said. "I felt like, boom, let`s take a shot at it and he hit it really good."
It was fourth-and-7 because quarterback Derek Anderson spiked the ball on third down to kill the clock with 10 seconds left. The plan was to run another play, but receiver Joe Jurevicius said he couldn`t run after getting tackled by safety Troy Polamalu for a 3-yard gain on second down.
Why throw a 3-yard pass with no timeouts and time running out?
"If he throws the 3-yard pass over the middle and the guy runs for 10, now we have 10 more yards and we kick the field goal and go into overtime," Crennel said. "Troy was in the middle and came up pretty good and was able to make the tackle."
CHANGING THE GUARD
Right guard Seth McKinney, who started the first eight games, will have surgery to repair a separated shoulder, according to Crennel. He was placed on injured reserve Saturday, and Crennel said the Browns would likely sign an offensive lineman to fill the roster spot.
Veteran right tackle Ryan Tucker started at guard vs. the Steelers.
"He didn`t do too bad," Crennel said. "He`s got good size. He hung in there pretty good."
Tucker was part of a line that allowed no sacks against Pittsburgh`s zone blitz.
"It was a nice baptism for the first time to play guard in awhile," Tucker said. "I saw about everything you can see. I felt pretty good. I`ll just get better from here on out."
Crennel said originally he thought Joshua Cribbs should`ve downed a muffed kickoff for a touchback. Instead, Cribbs picked it up at the goal line and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown.
"Generally what happens is you pick the ball up and run it out to the 2-yard line. But he ran it 100," Crennel said with a laugh.
* Crennel said there were no major injuries to report.
* Edwards, Kellen Winslow and Jurevicius refused to talk to reporters following the game.