BEREA, Ohio (AP) - The spiral slipped through Corey Coleman’s hands, depriving the Browns of a certain touchdown.
Worse, his miscue may have cost them a precious win - a so-far-distant first win.
Coleman dropped rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer’s perfectly thrown pass in the end zone last Sunday in Cincinnati, and when the wide receiver returned to the sidelined he felt as if he had gone into a trance.
“I had tunnel vision,” Coleman said Wednesday, reliving a sequence he’s powerless to change. “I was so shook and shocked about that, because it’s not me. And it’s just like anyone does something out of the norm, you’re going to be like, ‘Oh, man, did I really just do that? Did that just happen?’”
It happens to the Browns (0-11) too often. Mistakes such as Coleman’s have contributed to Cleveland’s 1-26 record the past two seasons and explain why coach Hue Jackson has on numerous occasions said his young team needs to “play perfect” to win.
Trailing 23-6, the Browns drove to the Cincinnati 29-yard line on their first possession of the third quarter when Kizer lofted his pass toward Coleman, who had a step on Bengals cornerback Josh Shaw. The play was exquisitely executed up until the moment Coleman failed to make the catch.
He’s still haunted by the gaffe, one of the defining moments in Cleveland’s 30-16 loss.
“It’s not acceptable at all,” Coleman said. “I take full responsibility for it. DeShone threw a great ball. I couldn’t ask for a better ball than that. I’ve got to make that play.
“Even the greats drop balls. It’s not an excuse. I have to make that play, and if you saw me on the sideline, it tore me down ‘cause you don’t get that many opportunities to make plays like that.
“So when that happens, you’ve got to make it count.”
Coleman’s damaging drop aside, the second-year receiver had an otherwise solid game, his second after missing seven straight with a broken right hand suffered in Week 2 at Baltimore. He finished with three catches for 64 yards, 44 coming on a deep sideline throw from Kizer in the first quarter.
A week earlier, he had six receptions for 80 yards in a loss to Jacksonville.
But it’s the one that he didn’t grab that bothers Coleman.
“I just knew it was a touchdown,” he said. “As soon as I came off the ball, I saw how the safety was playing. I got super excited. It happens, and I just can’t let it repeat and keep on lingering the next game, next game. I’ve got to clear it, go to the next play and he (Kizer) is going to need me for another play.”
That’s exactly the message he got from Jackson, who reminded the 2016 first-round pick there will be bigger catches ahead.
One drop can’t become two.
“Go catch the next one,” Jackson said. “Have to go catch the next one. You have to get back up on the bike and do it again, and he was. He gets it. You have to make that play, but he is going to get an opportunity to do it again. When it comes, he has to make that play.
“The competitive side, I’m glad that he understands how important it was, but there are going to be more. It would be different if he wasn’t going to have any more opportunities to do that. The next opportunity that he gets, he has to make that play.”
Coleman won’t be alone this week on a Cleveland offense devoid of playmakers.
Wide receiver Josh Gordon returns to face the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday after being suspended the past two seasons for drug violations.
Coleman and Gordon, both of whom played at Baylor, will give Kizer two legitimate options and perhaps the Browns a chance to avoid a winless season.
Coleman believes Gordon is ready to make up for lost time.
“He’s excited, man,” Coleman said. “That guy is unbelievable. We talk every day and he’s excited to be out there. You can feel the energy, the passion. He’s just like me. We’re both passionate for the game, so you know he just wants to be the best, same as me so when you’ve got two guys lined up like that, it’s a really great thing that’s going.”
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