Browns snuff Bills in key late-game drive
With no timeouts and precious few seconds left in a win-or-else game, conventional thinking was that Buffalo would take a shot at the end zone from 10 yards out.
Bills quarterback Trent Edwards instead threw short to Fred Jackson. The Browns snuffed out the Buffalo running back and likely his team’s playoff hopes.
Browns defenders Chaun Thompson and Sean Jones stopped Jackson for no gain on fourth-and-five as Cleveland held on for an 8-0 win. The Browns moved to within a win of their first playoff since 2002, while the Bills were eliminated from postseason contention.
There were 3 seconds left when Thompson and Jones wrapped up Jackson. Even if Jackson got a first down without scoring, the Bills would have been hard-pressed to run another play.
So why throw a screen pass on a snow-covered field instead of throwing into the end zone?
“If you think they’re going to pressure, the screen is a good call,” Buffalo Head Coach Dick Jauron said. “The screen has been a good call all day.”
Jackson certainly felt comfortable with it.
“Any time we have a play called, we have confidence in it,” he said. “I was confident. The whole offense was confident. We were just looking at trying to get some points out of it.
“I wasn’t surprised at all. ... It was just a great defensive play by them. They were able to make a play. They get paid, too. They were going to come out and try and stop us. They were able to do so.”
A last-ditch effort by Buffalo on a miserable snowy afternoon almost forced overtime.
The Bills started at their own 30 with no timeouts and 1:51 left. Two short passes from Edwards to Jackson and Josh Reed netted 35 yards. A 20-yard completion over the middle to Lee Evans and fourth-and-10 gave Buffalo a new life at the Cleveland 15.
A spike, a 5-yard pass to Reed and an incompletion made it fourth down. The inside screen to Jackson netted nothing.
“It worked earlier in the drive,” Edwards said. “Obviously they thought we were going to throw the ball in the end zone. It was there. It was just a matter of blocking guys up and making a couple guys miss.
“I wasn’t at all surprised by that call. It was a matter of getting the ball to the end zone.”
Reach Repository sports writer Mike Popovich at (330) 580-8341 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org