Published November 20, 2014
The Browns may need umbrellas, ponchos and boots to survive their next practice.
After a sloppy performance in the pouring rain, coach Eric Mangini intends to soak his players so they stop letting the ball slip away.
"We're going to turn the sprinklers on or dunk the ball in water," a disappointed Mangini said after Cleveland made five turnovers in a 19-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams on Saturday night during a steady downpour that didn't stop until the game ended.
Jake Delhomme overcame two early fumbles and was accurate and efficient throwing one touchdown pass in the soggy lakefront stadium.
"We did a decent job with the conditions," Delhomme said. "I'm glad it happened. We needed this."
Delhomme tossed a 6-yard TD pass to tight end Benjamin Watson, who made a one-handed grab at the back of the end zone in the second quarter. Delhomme finished 12 of 16 for 127 yards before he was replaced in the second half by Seneca Wallace, who connected for a 15-yard TD with Joshua Cribbs to give Cleveland a 17-13 lead in the third.
Josh Brown's fourth field goal, a 28-yarder with 3:33 left, won it for St. Louis (1-1).
Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford had his second straight shaky outing. The No. 1 overall draft pick, Bradford, expected to start for this season, went 6 of 14 for 24 yards coming off the bench behind A.J. Feeley. Bradford wasn't sacked after being dropped behind the line four times last week.
"Obviously, I'd like to have a couple more completions," Bradford said. "I expect to be able to go out there and tear it up every time I step on the field. Anytime you're not able to do that, it's a bit of a disappointment. When I look at the film, there will be a lot of things I learn from," Bradford said. "It's not good enough in this league (to come close), you have to be able to get completions. I have to be better than that."
Feeley sustained a thumb injury, but threw a TD pass before leaving.
St. Louis running back Steven Jackson had four carries for 20 yards in his first game since undergoing back surgery in April.
The Browns (1-1) signed Delhomme as a free agent in March to settle their messy quarterback situation. And to this point, the 35-year-old veteran appears to be the perfect man for the job. In his first two exhibition games, Delhomme is 18 of 23 for 193 yards with no interceptions — an impressive QB rating of 116.1.
Delhomme was missing one of his main targets as starting wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi didn't dress because of a strained hamstring sustained last week in Green Bay. Massaquoi only practiced once all week, and the Browns said he would have played if it was a regular-season game.
Delhomme threw primarily short passes, but moved the ball up and down the field, something Cleveland struggled to do last season when Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson took turns as the starter.
It didn't start well for Delhomme, who fumbled and recovered the game's first snap. But he collected himself and showed poise and precision in tough, wet conditions. His TD pass was initially ruled incomplete, but Mangini challenged the call and it was overturned by replay.
"He made a fantastic catch," Delhomme said. "I'd be lying if I said that was where I wanted to put it."
Mangini was pleased with Delhomme, but wasn't happy with Cleveland's five turnovers — three on fumbles on the slippery field.
"You can't turn the ball over five times and win. We can't put the ball on the ground," Mangini said. "I'm very frustrated with that. We haven't been in a lot of rain, but that's no excuse. We're going to play in the rain."
Delhomme said he and center Alex Mack will work on their exchanges.
"We're going to do something with wet, heavy, soggy footballs," he said.
The Rams managed 178 total yards, one week after gaining only 150 in a loss to Minnesota. But they got their first look at Jackson, their dreadlocked star who powered up the middle for 11 yards on his first touch. St. Louis coach Steve Spagnuolo is being cautious with his top player, who spent part of his offseason diving with sharks off the South African coast.
"I felt good to be out there once again," Jackson said. "I got 11 yards on the first one. Not only did I get it in a way where I was untouched, but I fought for some extra yards at the end, so the back strength was there."
Feeley was visibly hurt, but stayed in the game after injuring his thumb and threw a 9-yard TD pass to tight end Daniel Fells on St. Louis' opening drive to make it 7-0.
On a third-down play, Feeley was hit by blitzing Browns linebacker Chris Gocong. Feeley may have banged his thumb on Gocong's helmet. Feeley had his thumb and elbow wrapped after the game. He said X-rays on both were negative and expects to play Thursday against New England.
Browns rookie QB Colt McCoy didn't complete a pass during his two, three-and-out series in the fourth.