There are days I wish I could watch games at face value and not be sucked into the storylines that are going to follow the teams I cover.

The Browns proved that Oct. 10. Anybody who is not a Browns or Chargers fan, the game was a ton of fun to watch. What football fan would not want to watch 89 points, 1,025 yards, 52 first downs and 12 touchdowns? The 47-42 win for Los Angeles is an instant classic for the NFL.

The aftertaste of the loss has Browns’ fans questioning everything. But I think that is in the bylaws of being a Browns fan in the first place.

Let’s just rattle off a few things that Monday morning quarterbacks are shaking their heads over.

The officiating

The anger over the four down and four pass interference call against the Browns and a holding call against center JC Tretter has Browns fans still steaming today. It looked like Tretter was being choked and defensive back AJ Green had his jersey being ripped off his body. Both calls were bad. Especially when you watch the beginning of the pass interference call when defensive end Takk McKinley was held then grabbed in the face mask. The refs blew it on both plays. The reality is the Browns’ defense gave up 47 points. It’s really hard to say anything about two brutal missed calls when the Chargers are throwing touchdowns to wide open receivers.

The play calling

Coach Kevin Stefanski admitted after the game he needed to be better in these big games for the Browns against good teams. The difference between winning and losing comes down to about three plays.

The Browns win the game if they can get two first downs on their second-to-last possession. Stefanski’s aggressive play calling on fourth down that we have seen this season turned super conservative at the end of the game.

On the Browns’ final drive that started with 1:31 to go in the game, it was mind boggling. Stefanski played out the final minute-and-a-half like the team only had a few seconds an no chance to win the game. He admitted they were just trying to get the ball to midfield to throw a “Hail Mary.” He played conservative with a quarterback playing with a bad non-throwing shoulder and without two starting offensive lineman.

Like coaches tell players even in games where things look perfect, there are “teaching moments.” This time, the moments belong to the head coach. I like Stefanski and there will be a time later this season when he will be in the same position. Let’s see how he approaches them.

The defense

The defense looked like a team playing against a quarterback in Justin Herbert, who can throw for 300 yards by the time he gets out of bed to the time he reaches the bathroom. Considering both starting cornerbacks are hurt, it should not be a surprise that Herbert was able to rip apart the Browns’ secondary. At the end of the day, fingers should be pointed at the defense for the loss. It didn’t help that Browns’ punter Jamie Gillan had a rough day keeping the field short for the Chargers.

Baker Mayfield

Mayfield threw for over 300 yards and had two touchdown passes. Even his doubters can chill out this week. But, they won’t. They will talk about his lack of fourth-quarter comeback wins, forgetting that he does have six fourth-quarter comebacks and seven game-winning drives. Mayfield is also playing with a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

The Chargers win, the NFL wins, the Browns and fans lose. But, lets hope for Browns-Chargers II in the playoffs.

Buckeyes kicking into high gear

The Ohio State Buckeyes steamrolled Maryland Oct. 9, 66-17. Once again, Ohio State was unstoppable in the first half, taking a 35-10 lead at the break.

C.J. Stroud is leaving no doubt he should be the starting quarterback. The freshman is one yard short of 1,700 yards in just five games. He threw five touchdown passes again to up his total to 18 on the season.

The route included 598 yards of total offense for the Buckeyes. Stroud threw for 406 yards. TreVeyon Henderson rolled with 102 yards.

Buckeye fans enjoy this last season with senior Chris Olave. He moved to third place with touchdown numbers 28 and 29 on the season. David Boston’s all-time touchdown mark of 34 touchdowns is in jeopardy. Jaxson Smith-Njigba, Garrett Wilson and Olave combined for four touchdowns and 307 yards of receiving.

The Bucks have the week off before going to Bloomington, Ind. at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 to take on the Indiana Hoosiers. Ohio State is sixth in The Associated Press rankings. Georgia is No. 1. Keep rooting for Iowa. The Hawkeyes are No. 2, with a 6-0 record.

Goodman hopes to ‘net’ success

Congrats to Tamir Goodman, the former Israeli-American professional basketball player, and his family.

“The Jewish Jordan” is a familiar face around Cleveland thanks to his wife, Judy, who is a Northeast Ohio native. Goodman invented Aviv, a cutting-edge sports equipment company.

This week they released a new product. It is a basketball net that basically cleans the ball every time it goes through the net.

According to his company’s website avivsports.com, the net is moisture wicking and antimicrobial net engineered to dry and clean the ball. His nets are being tested in the NBA, Euro League, Big3 and NCAA Division I basketball.

Bengals’ nearly sack Pack

The Cincinnati Bengals are getting better every week and just about took down the Green Bay Packers Oct. 10.

The Bengals had a chance to beat quarterback Aaron Rodgers and company but fell short. Five missed field goals in the final minutes of regulation and overtime between both teams became the storyline in the Packers’ 25-22 win at Paul Brown Stadium. Kicker Mason Crosby kicked a 49-yard field goal to win it.

The legend of Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow continues to grow. While he was great in his rookie season, I think folks were wondering what he would look like after knee surgery. He passed that test quickly this season, but Sunday was a scary one. After the loss to the Packers, he was taken to a hospital after suffering a throat contusion. He took a big hit in the second quarter and worked his way back to the field. He admitted after the game he wasn’t sure when he took the hit to the throat. Like a superhero who lost the power to talk, he moved on. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor told the media Burrow’s injury is not a cause for concern. “He’s in good shape,” he said.

Burrow threw for 281 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, including one in overtime. Cincinnati could easily be 4-1 if it would have pulled off the upset. The AFC North has Baltimore with a comeback win on Monday Night Football to take a one game lead at 4-1 over the 3-2 Browns and Bengals. Don’t count out the Steelers yet. They beat Denver, 27-19. Pittsburgh is 2-3.


If you have a suggestion for a column idea for Andy Baskin, send him an email at columnists@cjn.org. He can be heard on “Baskin & Phelps” weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 92.3 The Fan.

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