BEREA, OHIO (AP) - Dick Jauron’s vast experience as an NFL coach couldn’t save the Browns.
Like his players, Jauron was caught unaware.
When the Cincinnati Bengals rushed to the line and quickly snapped the ball on Sunday for a 41-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, Cleveland’s seasoned defensive coordinator _ and former head coach in Chicago and Buffalo _ had his head down, looking at his play sheet.
“I have to pick it up,” Jauron said Thursday. “I have to see it and I didn’t see it. I missed it.”
Jauron accepted blame for the Browns’ blunder on Sunday, when Bengals quarterback Bruce Gradkowski alertly hurried his team to the line, took the snap and lofted a game-winning touchdown pass to rookie A.J. Green, a memorable game-changing play in Cincinnati’s 27-17 win over Cleveland.
“When the offense is ready to snap the ball, we’ve got to be ready to play defense,” he said. “That’s my responsibility and I didn’t get it done on that play.”
The Browns were waiting for linebacker D’Qwell Jackson to call the play when the Bengals made the snap. Cornerback Joe Haden scampered to get into position, but by the time he recovered, Green had darted off the line and soon hauled in Gradkowski’s pass for his only reception and first career score _ one that will haunt the Browns.
“To have that happen to you is hugely disappointing to everybody, to us and to our players and to our fans,” Jauron said. “It’s one of those things that clearly you don’t expect, and when it happened, you probably will never forget it.”
To make sure it never happens again, Cleveland’s cornerbacks will not join the huddle, Jauron said. Hand signals will be sent in from the sideline.
“That’s one thing you can do and that’ll help us clearly,” said Jauron, in his 27th season as a coach in the league. “We just have got to be aware. After making the call, I was looking down at my gameplan sheet, thinking about the next call. I missed it. There’s nothing else I can say about it. I should have been able to help.”
Following the game, Browns coach Pat Shurmur wasn’t convinced the Bengals didn’t get away with something. However, the league determined that Cincinnati did not violate the substitution rule and the play was legal.