MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — There is good news for Cleveland, in that the Indians are on the verge of clinching the AL Central and the NBA champion Cavaliers open training camp this week.
For now, that’ll have to be enough.
Beaten down by injuries and beaten again on the field, despite a statistically most-unique effort from Terrelle Pryor, the Browns are 0-3 after a 30-24 overtime loss against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The Browns rallied from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime and had a chance to win on the final play of regulation, only to see things go awry again.
“Whatever it takes, man,” Pryor said. “We have a great team here. A lot of people overlook us and talk bad about us, but I feel like our team is one of the best teams in the NFL. We’ve just got to figure out how to win. We could easily be 2-1 right now.”
Pryor played quarterback at Ohio State, and given the Browns’ health woes at quarterback — Cody Kessler is the third starter in as many games this season, after Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown got hurt in the first two weeks — it wasn’t surprising to see Pryor run some read option, which he did in the second series of the game.
He did a whole lot more the rest of the way.
He threw five passes. He caught eight passes. He rushed the ball four times, including one for Cleveland’s lone offensive touchdown of the day. He even played safety on the final play of the first half.
Since the AFL-NFL merger, no player had as many throws, rushes and catches in the same game as Pryor did Sunday.
“What he did didn’t surprise me,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said.
Cleveland came into Sunday missing six starters: Griffin III, McCown, center Cam Erving, wide receiver Corey Coleman, defensive end Carl Nassib and kicker Patrick Murray — who hurt his knee in a walkthrough on Friday.
The Browns had to sign Cody Parkey on Saturday. He got on the plane with Cleveland without taking a single kick with the team. He missed three of his six field-goal tries Sunday, including a 46-yarder that would have won it on the final play of regulation.
“Don’t blame him,” Jackson said.
Parkey blamed himself, though. He said he took 20 to 25 kicks pregame, and that should have been enough to get ready.
“It’s my first time kicking with the snap and holder here,” Parkey said. “It’s not an excuse, I have to make every kick regardless. They seemed to be pulling left on me.”
They were — all three of his misses were to the left, one off the upright.
Kessler completed 21 of 33 passes for 244 yards, after a week where the rookie immersed himself in the playbook. He’s the 26th starting quarterback since 1999 for Cleveland, and might be the first one this season to escape a game well enough to play in the next one.
“We made a great to come back and give ourselves a chance at the end,” Kessler said. “It hurts losing. I hate losing.”