Browns slip again, fall to 0-13 as historic slide worsens
CLEVELAND (AP) The Browns' mascot can't even stay on his clogs.
This season of embarrassment has a new symbolic blooper.
Early in Sunday's 23-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland's ''Brownie The Elf'' attempted to retrieve a football that had bounced out of bounds following a punt when he slipped in the snowy conditions and fell to the ground, landing on his side. As the mascot , who resembles one of Snow White's seven dwarfs, reached for the ball in vain, it was scooped up by a security officer on the sideline.
The comical gaffe was caught by CBS' cameras and instantly went viral on social media.
And so it goes for the Browns (0-13).
Robert Griffin III posted a 0.00 quarterback rating in the opening half of his first game in three months, and the Browns lost their 16th straight going back to last season, moving them within three losses of becoming only the second team in NFL history to go winless in a 16-game season.
Unless they pull out a win next week in Buffalo, on Christmas Eve at home against San Diego or at Pittsburgh on Jan. 1, the Browns will join the 2008 Detroit Lions in infamy.
When the game ended, Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey, who several weeks ago predicted the Browns would not go winless, held a sign painted by a fan that said: ''All I Want For Christmas Is A Win.''
Cleveland has dropped 23 of 24, 31 of 34 and Browns fans are staying away by the thousands as this season of rebuilding unravels to new depths.
If there was one positive for the Browns, it's that Griffin managed to make it through a complete game and will play next week. He completed 12 of 28 passes for 104 yards with one interception and 38.4 rating. He also scored on a 1-yard TD run.
Browns coach Hue Jackson wants to use the final four games to decide whether Griffin can be an option next season, and he at least has a larger body of work to assess.
''For him, just being out there and moving around again, calling the game and being involved in a game against a good football team, he showed that he belongs,'' Jackson said.
''He has to get better in some areas. I think we all know that. I am not running from that, but for the first time back out late in the season like this, I thought he held his own.''
Here are some other takeaways as the Bengals (5-7-1) stayed on the AFC playoff periphery:
After Andy Dalton threw two TD passes and the Bengals built a 20-0 lead in the first half, Cincinnati turned to its running game in the second half.
The Bengals finished with 213 yards on 38 attempts, giving them 484 yards in two games against Cleveland. Jeremy Hill finished with 279 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the season sweep, averaging 8.2 yards per carry.
''The guys up front did a great job handling the line of scrimmage,'' Dalton said. ''I think Jeremy and all our backs ran the ball real well again today.''
Browns running back Isaiah Crowell had his first 100-yard game since Week 4, picking up 113 on 10 carries. He ripped off runs of 42 and 30 yards in the second half.
''Crow did a great job running hard,'' left tackle Joe Thomas said. ''When conditions are a little sloppy and snowy, he's the perfect kind of back. He runs with his whole cleat in the ground. He doesn't slip, he makes guys miss and he finishes runs really hard.''
Crowell became the first Browns running back to rush for 100 yards or more three times in a season since Trent Richardson in 2012.
It was a mixed day for struggling Cincinnati kicker Mike Nugent, who missed another extra point, but made a clutch 44-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Nugent missed his sixth extra point in the first quarter, although it wasn't his fault because holder Kevin Huber couldn't handle a high snap. Nugent then missed a 36-yard field goal to the right on the final play of the first half.
However, Nugent redeemed himself with his 44-yarder, which came after a false start penalty wiped out his make from 39, with 8:38 left to put the Bengals ahead 23-10.
Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, whose passion has gotten him into some trouble this season, yelled at Griffin in the huddle while the Browns were driving for their TD.
With the play clock winding down, Pryor wanted Griffin to run the play called before Cleveland's QB called a timeout. Thomas was one of the Browns who tried to calm down Pryor.
''It was not anything big,'' Griffin said. ''He just wanted to run the play. We scored on that drive so it all worked out.''
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