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Browns' Shurmur handles heat after loss

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Browns' Shurmur handles heat after loss

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Browns coach Pat Shurmur slipped into his chair behind the microphone. Before beginning his Monday news conference, Shurmur looked at his notes and let out an audible sigh.

``Oh, boy,'' he said.

He knew what was coming.

Questions. Tough ones.

One day after a 25-15 loss to Baltimore, Shurmur was questioned about several decisions, including a critical one in the fourth quarter that backfired Sunday, as the Browns (2-7) lost to their AFC North nemesis for the 10th straight time and headed into their bye week a frustrated, disappointed and even angry team.

With time to reflect on another winnable game the Browns let slip away, Shurmur, who fell to 6-19 in two seasons, acknowledged that there were some things he could have - and maybe should have - done differently.

``There were some decisions, when I look back on them now, of course, that don't work out,'' he said. ``Then I'll say, `Well, you know what? Maybe we should have done something else.' That's what you do on Monday.''

Shurmur's choice not to punt on fourth-and-2 at his own 28-yard line with 3:53 remaining and two timeouts may be the one he probably regrets most.

After the Ravens, who did nothing on offense for more than two quarters, took a 22-15 lead on Joe Flacco's 19-yard TD pass to Torrey Smith and a 2-point conversion, the Browns got the ball at their 20. They gained eight yards on two completions by quarterback Brandon Weeden, who then threw high to wide receiver Greg Little on fourth down.

Baltimore took over and got a 43-yard field goal from Justin Tucker to open a 10-point lead, essentially ending the game with 2:53 left.

Shurmur doesn't regret the decision, but he did admit that he could have sent in a better play selection from the sideline.

``What I would like us to do is execute, give him a better play and make it,'' he said. ``I watched the game last night, the (New York) Giants punted in that situation and never saw the ball again. Being that we did get the ball back, yeah, I would consider doing something different if I can guarantee I'm going to get the ball back.''

The Browns' biggest issue Sunday was their inability to score inside the Ravens' 20-yard line. The red zone was where Cleveland touchdown drives went to die.

Instead of getting any TDs, the Browns had to settle for five field goals by consistent kicker Phil Dawson, who has made 23 straight attempts dating to last season. The one time Cleveland got in the end zone, Weeden's 18-yard TD pass to rookie Josh Gordon was nullified by an illegal formation penalty against running back Chris Ogbonnaya, who lined up wide but was the eighth player on the line of scrimmage.

On Cleveland's next play, Shurmur called a draw for running back Trent Richardson on third down that was stopped for no gain and the Browns settled for Dawson's 41-yard field goal to take a 15-14 lead.

Shurmur said he played it safe in that location on the field to ensure the Browns, who trailed 14-0 in the first quarter, wouldn't waste the scoring chance.

``I did not want a holding call. I did not want a sack. I did not want anything crazy that knocked us out of that situation,'' he said. ``At that point, a field goal puts us ahead. That's why I made that call. Now, if the situation is different, maybe then you take another crack at the end zone.''

There's little doubt the Browns have improved. After being blown out often last season, they've been competitive in every game but don't yet have the wins to show for their progress. They're still making too many mistakes, like the one by Ogbonnaya, who tried to back off the line before the ball was snapped.

It's enough to keep a coach up at night or make his hair grayer.

``That's why I look like I do,'' Shurmur cracked. ``You don't want that to happen. There are not a lot of great answers sometimes for it, other than you get it fixed, so it doesn't happen again. That's where the mental toughness comes in. You've got to find a way to correct it and move on.''

The bye comes at an opportune time for the young Browns, who are mentally and physically worn out and need a break to recharge. After practice on Tuesday, players will be dismissed until next week. Cleveland's coaches, though, will stick around to try and fix several problems, including some confusion in sending in plays.

During Sunday's loss, the Browns were forced to burn three timeouts because they couldn't get plays in on time to Weeden. It's been a recurring issue as Cleveland has struggled substituting personnel and getting off the snap before the play clock expired.

``That's something we're going to talk about,'' Shurmur said. ``We'll make changes and streamline some of things. That's what's nice about the bye week. It's about the Browns. `What can we do better as we move forward?'''

Scoring inside the opponents' 20 will be another priority as the Browns rank 31st overall in red zone efficiency. Weeden, too, has to improve in the fourth quarter as his 63.2 rating in the final period is second-worst in the league. His five interceptions in the fourth lead all QBs.

``We need to improve there,'' Shurmur said.

Most importantly, the Browns need to win.

As one of the team's most respected players, linebacker D'Qwell Jackson is telling his young teammates to keep working. He has seen previous seasons unravel and he won't let that happen again.

``Right now, we got to fight out of this stigma as the same old Browns,'' he said. ``There's no rule, there's no book saying we can't win the rest of our ballgames. It's just a matter of staying the course and not getting your head down.''

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NOTES: Shurmur will ask the NFL for clarification on two penalties against Gordon, one for pass interference and one for unnecessary roughness on a crack-back block. He also wants an explanation on the call against safety T.J. Ward for roughing Flacco, a penalty that helped Baltimore's go-ahead TD drive. ... The Browns will be featured in a series documentary on Travel Channel next month. The series will show how the team coordinates travel on road trips and offer glimpses of game-week preparation.

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Proposed NFL rule change would eliminate Ravens' intentional holding strategy

Proposed NFL rule change would eliminate Ravens' intentional holding strategy

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

It made everyone do a double-take, then it made perfect sense to non-Cincinnati and non-Pittsburgh fans.

Back in Week 12 when the Baltimore Ravens held off the Cincinnati Bengals 19-14, it wasn't a single touchdown that made national headlines. Rather it was a game ending safety that cut a seven-point deficit to only five. 

On the final play, numerous Ravens players held the opposing Bengals, who were setting up to receive punt, with 11 seconds left on the clock. Punter Sam Koch, just sat back, draining the clock before finally running out the back of the end zone with the clock at zero. 

SEE LINK FOR FULL RULE EXPLANATION

Thursday it was proposed to the NFL's Competition Committee to make plays like this illegal. 

While it may be considered unfair to some, making this new rule would simply add to an already expanding rule book and only be used for a select handful of plays a year, maybe. 

Eliminating cleverness of coaches that are well versed in the NFL rule book, should not be the approach of the of rule adaptations. There is no impact on player safety nor does it make the game 'more watchable' (like the extra-point rule).

Not only that, but the new proposed rule just leaves another set of loopholes for coaches to take advantage of at the end of a game. What if team trying to score on the last play commits two offensive penalties just to get another shot at the endzone?

But before making a massive overhaul to fix all of the loopholes in the NFL rule book, can we establish what a catch is first?

MORE RAVENS: Tony Jefferson used Madden to make free agency decision

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Ravens mock draft roundup: Mike Williams continues to pop up

Ravens mock draft roundup: Mike Williams continues to pop up

Just over a month away from the NFL Draft, mock drafts across sport media sites are beginning to narrow in on players that fit specifically into blaring holes on a team's roster.

As the first wave of free agency has come through, a majority of the top names at each position has been snatched up. While the Baltimore Ravens can still sign a handful of free agents on the open market, getting backup or a young star in a key position can be a the primary goal. 

Here's a look at who some of the various analysts have the Ravens taking with their No. 16 pick in the first round. The general consensus is help in the defensive secondary and at the wide receiver position.

DE Taco Charlton, Michigan, Ben Standig, CSN-Mid Atlantic

Standing: At some point the Ravens must find an edge pass rushing replacement for Terrell Suggs. Charlton might be better stopping the run than rushing the passer right now and yet he had nine sacks in 10 regular season games.  

SEE STANDIG'S FULL 2017 MOCK DRAFT

SS Jabrill Peppers, Michigan, Rob Rang, CBS Sports

Rang: With starting safety Matt Elam a pending free agent and Eric Weddle poised to enter his 11th NFL season, the Ravens may very well be looking for help in the secondary in the 2017 draft. Peppers starred as a linebacker in 2016 but possesses the agility and speed to handle coverage.

WR Mike Williams, Clemson, Dane Brugler, CBS Sports

Brugler: The Ravens have plenty of speed at receiver, but only average size. Williams has only average speed, but his body control, catch radius and overall size are where he shines.

WR John Ross, Washington, Bucky Brooks, NFL.com

Brooks: An electric playmaker with speed to burn would be a welcome addition to an offense that wants to play long ball with Joe Flacco at quarterback.

DE Charles Harris, Missouri, Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com

Jeremiah: Harris is a very productive edge rusher who is plenty athletic enough to drop in coverage if needed.

WR Mike Williams, Clemson, Chris Burke, SI.com

Burke: Baltimore has two receivers, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, who can scorch defenses deep. They need a physical, intermediate threat. Check.

CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama, Peter Schragers, FOX Sports

Schragers: I seem to be a lot higher on Humphrey than other mock draft pundits. Oh well. I’ll ride with the star of the Alabama defensive backfield from last season. The son of NFL running back Bobby Humphrey, he was a stud at the well-known Hoover High and a prime recruit of Nick Saban’s. An opportunistic player who started for two seasons in Tuscaloosa, Humphrey forced three fumbles and intercepted two passes in 2016. Baltimore already has added Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson to its defensive backfield but might not be done.

RELATED: REDSKINS MOCK DRAFT ROUNDUP