It’s a good thing the Cavaliers got finally got Cleveland a championship this summer because things certainly still aren’t going the Browns’ way this season.
Check out this play from Sunday’s game between the Browns and the Washington Redskins:
With his team trailing by four early in the fourth quarter, Cleveland running back Duke Johnson fumbled the ball around midfield.
But the ball somehow found its way back into Johnson’s arm, and the Browns player stood up and waved it over his head even as a pile of players next to him continued to wrestle for possession of something that wasn’t there.
That’s good — well, it would have been good for Johnson and the Browns except line judge Sarah Thomas somehow ruled that the Redskins had recovered the ball.
“Within half a second, Duke stood up and held it up in his hand. I think the ref was still trying to find out where the ball was,” Browns quarterback Cody Kessler said after the 31-20 Browns loss. “And Duke was yelling: `Hey, I got it right here! It's right here!' And unfortunately the call didn't go our way.”
And there was nothing the Browns could do about it.
“When the official tells you it's already been reviewed and it's their ball, there's nothing I can do,” Cleveland Coach Hue Jackson said. “I can yell and scream and do whatever, but it's not going to change the call.''
The NFL released an explanation on Monday:
"The on-field ruling was a fumble, recovered by Washington. It was confirmed as a fumble in instant replay without the need to stop the game. As to the recovery, several different angles were looked at, but with nothing definitive shown, there was no need to stop the game because the on-field ruling that awarded possession to Washington would have stood.''
NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport explained that since the call on the field was fumble, the video needed to show Johnson actually recovering the ball. And it only showed him with the ball after the recovery.
Still, it’s hard to blame Browns fans for feeling like they got the raw end of the deal again. But, as Johnson said after the game, the best way to have avoided the seemingly bad call was to have not fumbled the ball in the first place.
"Long story short, I shouldn't put the refs in position to make that call anyway,'' Johnson said. "I should've had the ball. I should've held onto it and that would've been that. We wouldn't have been sitting here now."