The Cleveland Browns played their third straight close game on Sunday, losing for the first time in three weeks under the leadership of quarterback PJ Walker.
Cleveland leaned heavily on its former third-string quarterback against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, October 29, including during the play that ultimately cost the Browns the game. Head coach Kevin Stefanski threw a pass on 3rd-and-3 from his own 41-yard line with just over two minutes left and a 20-17 lead. Walker threw an interception to save Julian Love – a mistake that eventually led to a touchdown between Jaxon Smith and Njigba, sealing Seattle’s victory.
Reporters asked running back Kareem Hunt after the game if he didn’t get a chance on that fateful play that afternoon. Hunt’s response went beyond a single snap, as he expressed anger over the team’s decision not to use him more often – or at all – in the final period.
“I didn’t have a chance the whole fourth quarter.” Hunt said, according to ESPN’s Jake Trotter. “So it’s cool. I don’t know. I just go and play my part, [and] I feel like I could have contributed to the win.”
Trotter added that Hunt’s final touch of the day came with more than three and a half minutes left in the third quarter. The running back ended the day with 14 runs for 55 yards and a touchdown.
“Brown’s QB PJ Walker says turnovers happen after late interception”
Stefanski spoke about the play call and the resulting interception during his postgame press conference.
“Of course, when you look at the interception and the result, you always think, ‘What can you do differently?’” Stefanski said. “You know, we can’t…we had options. Surely you can run and certainly you can pass. But the result was tough, you know.”
Cleveland is now 4-3 on the year and Walker has raised as many questions as he has answered.
It’s clear the Browns aren’t ready to move forward with rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson under center. The former backup QB got the starting nod in Week 4 against the Baltimore Ravens but threw three interceptions and hasn’t taken a snap since.
Walker, on the other hand, seems to have carte blanche to make as many mistakes as necessary while the Browns’ defense continues to drag its battered and battered counterpart across the finish line every weekend. Walker has now turned the ball over six times in three games and only accounted for a single touchdown.
“Turnovers happen,” Walker said during his postgame press conference. “I have never seen a quarterback in his career play a football game where he never actually turned the ball over. They happen. I just have to try to eliminate them. The second pain was particularly painful. The first was a miscommunication. It’s tough.”
“Deshaun Watson’s health is still a big question mark going forward”
Cleveland defeated the San Francisco 49ers in Walker’s first start, but needed a missed field goal late to hold on. Watson started the following week against the Indianapolis Colts, but only threw the ball five times before leaving the game with head and shoulder injuries.
Walker re-entered and the Browns won again, but by just one point. Cleveland was helped by the NFL later admitting that officials made poor decisions during the Browns’ final scoring drive, per Colts owner Jim Irsay on an ESPN report.
Walker’s ineptitude under center has now cost the Browns a game they probably should have won, while Watson’s shoulder remains a long-term question mark.
“He’ll be back when he’s ready,” Stefanski said of Watson after Sunday’s loss.
Cleveland has just two days until the NFL trade deadline on October 31 to sign a quarterback. From this point on, only free agents who are not currently on the roster anywhere in the league remain.
Max Dible covers the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns and Golden State Warriors for Heavy.com. He covered local and national news as a reporter for West Hawaii Today and served as news director for BigIslandNow.com and Pacific Media Group’s family of Big Island radio stations before joining Heavy. More about Max Dible
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