A closer look at the Browns' schedule
smcclelland@daytondailynews.com
Posted: 04/21/2012 4:47 PM
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By Sean McClelland

I had a dream and this is how the season went:

Sunday, Sept. 9, Philadelphia, 1 p.m. The Browns always seem to open at home and it never seems to help. Michael Vick and the Eagles on this day show them how the West Coast offense is run. Browns version not exactly clicking with rookie running back Trent Richardson still finding his way. Eagles 20, Browns 13. Record: 0-1

Sunday, Sept. 16, at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. The Bengals are coming off a playoff season and it shows as second-year quarterback Andy Dalton continues to play like a Pro Bowler. Ex-Bengals defensive end Frostee Rucker gets a sack in his return to Paul Brown Stadium, but it doesn’t matter. Bengals 28, Browns 10. Record: 0-2

Sunday, Sept. 23, Buffalo, 1 p.m. The Bills have Mario Williams, but their quarterback is still that kid from Harvard and this isn’t their year. Richardson starts to look like the dual threat the Browns thought they drafted and Colt McCoy connects with emerging wideout Greg Little for a couple of scores. Much is made of Little not dropping a pass yet this season. Browns 24, Buffalo 20. Record: 1-2

Thursday, Sept. 27 at Baltimore, 8:20 p.m. Browns offense takes a step backward and fans press the panic button on call-in shows as the team plops into the AFC North basement at 1-3. Ravens 26, Browns 14. Record: 1-3

Sunday, Oct. 7, at NY Giants, 1 p.m. Just as unlikely as a win in Baltimore is a win in East Rutherford, N.Y., against the Super Bowl champs. Richardson runs over a couple of defenders and draws comparisons to Adrian Peterson with his first 100-yard game, but that’s it for the good news. Giants 23, Browns 9. Record: 1-4

Sunday, Oct. 14, Cincinnati, 1 p.m. Sitting at 1-4, the Browns have no choice but to beat the Bengals in the rematch, so they do, lessening fan angst temporarily. Browns 23, Bengals 20. Record: 2-4

Sunday, Oct. 21, at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is looking more like a young Peyton Manning by this point, but he’s still a rookie and Jabaal Sheard and Co. pressure him into mistakes. Browns 19, Colts 16. Record: 3-4

Sunday, Oct. 28, San Diego, 1 p.m. With their first road win tucked away, the Browns give the Chargers all they can handle but quarterback Philip Rivers makes the plays down the stretch. Browns tight end Evan Moore catches two TD passes, prompting the annual cry of “Where’s he been?” from the talent evaluators in the stands. Chargers 27, Browns 24. Record: 3-5

Sunday, Nov. 4, Baltimore, 1 p.m. There’s talk all week of finishing strong before the bye and, by golly, they do. Richardson does a convincing portrayal of Jamal Lewis in his prime, McCoy does just enough and the defense harries Joe Flacco into several mistakes. Browns 24, Ravens 21. Record: 4-5

BYE

Sunday, Nov. 18, at Dallas, 1 p.m. Now 4-5 and having won back some fans, it’s probably not a good time to be visiting the Cowboys, who are 8-1. They are turned aside handily and talk-show callers start calling for head coach Pat Shurmur’s scalp. Cowboys 35, Browns 14. Record: 4-6

Sunday, Nov. 25, Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, despite a broken ankle, two impacted wisdom teeth and a case of hemorrhoids, performs insanely well, as is typical against the team that snubbed him in the 2004 draft. Steelers 27, Browns 12. Record: 4-7

Sunday, Dec. 2, at Oakland, 4:15 p.m. Fans are psyched because the Raiders always seem beatable, even on the road. But McCoy hobbles off in the second quarter with an ankle injury and it snowballs from there. Raiders 17, Browns 9. Record: 4-8

Sunday, Dec. 9, Kansas City, 1 p.m. The Chiefs are sky high to play against the team from which their coach, Romeo Crennel, drew paychecks during a largely forgettable four-year run. But the Browns spring a surprise, damaging K.C.’s playoff hopes. Browns 17, Chiefs 16. Record: 5-8

Sunday, Dec. 16, Washington, 1 p.m. Robert Griffin III comes to town and shows the Browns why they should have tried harder to get him. McCoy, meanwhile, playing with a sprained ankle that limits his mobility, tosses a couple of interceptions, drawing a chorus of boos from fans clamoring for whoever the backup is. Redskins 30, Browns 13. Record: 5-9

Sunday, Dec. 23, at Denver, 4:05 p.m. They’re playing for pride at this point, and probably Shurmur’s job. But it can’t save them against Peyton Manning and the playoff-bound Broncos. Broncos 24, Browns 7. Record: 5-10

Sunday, Dec. 30, at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. Bidding for their highest win total since 2007, the Browns see their hopes dashed. Roethlisberger breaks a leg and four ribs in the second quarter when Phil Taylor lands on him only to return in the second half and rally the troops in the bitter cold of Heinz Field. Win clinches AFC North for Pittsburgh. Steelers 21, Browns 17

There you have it. The path to 5 and 11. Two days after the season, Browns president Mike Holmgren gives Shurmur a stunning vote of confidence and says that if not for a dropped pass and a fumble here and there the team would have finished 9-7. USC quarterback Matt Barkley, frightened that the Browns might pick him, enlists in the Air Force.