We Browns fans are used to this. Losing home opening games. Blowing fourth-quarter leads. Inventing new ways to add to the annals of suckitude.
I'd be inclined to give the Browns a pass here. New coaches, young team, abbreviated off-season and all that.
But I'm not. Football is a bottom-line game. This was a highly-winnable division game, in Cleveland, against a substandard opponent in the Bengals. The Browns were just too sloppy in all facets of the game.
The key play, of course, was the 3rd-and-11 defensive collapse. With the Browns nursing a four-point lead with just 4:31 remaining, they failed to line up in time. Ex-Brown Bruce Gradkowski lofted the easy go-ahead touchdown pass to A.J. Green, who made the most of his first NFL catch.
Why didn't they line up in time? Rookie head coach Pat Shurmur believes his team should have been given time to make substitutions, since the offense did. That is a rule, and he may have a point. But football is a bottom-line game. The Browns are ultimately to blame.
At least one player said the defensive play call was too late in arriving. Apparently so.
Still, they could've called a timeout, either from the field or the sideline. They should have.
Instead, the 2011 Browns already have on their permanent record a hideous piece of video bespeaking discombobulation, unreadiness, and failure.
If this is the baseline from which to measure subsequent progress, let's just say that a gargantuan amount of progress will be required for this program to turn into any sort of success.