CLEVELAND — The good news is that the Cleveland Browns are still very much in the playoff chase after hanging on to beat the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
The bad news is that the Browns are still struggling. They're struggling with injuries, they're struggling with sluggish offensive play, and they're struggling to put teams away.
Welcome to "The 5th Quarter," your Monday recap of the Cleveland Browns hosted by Jay Crawford and Dave 'Dino' DeNatale.
It was another case of winning ugly, but winning for the Cleveland Browns. They climbed out to a 24-6 lead over Baltimore, then held on for dear life to a 24-22 victory to improve to 7-6. Suddenly, the Browns are just a game behind the Ravens for first place in the AFC North.
Here's what the guys focused on during Monday's show:
VICTORY MONDAY, I GUESS: The Browns won on Sunday, but it's another game where the victory seems to take a back seat to the things that are ailing the team. As Jay pointed out, the only win that the Browns have that was done in convincing fashion was the victory in Cincinnati against the Bengals. Every other win has been seemingly excruciating. The Browns failed to make adjustments in the second half yet again and sputtered offensively. Had it not been for a Jadeveon Clowney sack on Baltimore's final drive, we might be having a different conversation today.
AFC NORTH OPEN FOR BUSINESS?: Despite all of the adversity the Browns have faced this year, the simple fact is that they could very well climb to the top of the AFC North in the next six days. The Browns host the Raiders on Saturday, while Baltimore will have to deal with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on Sunday. Think about this: The Ravens, Steelers, and Bengals were all in the same situation this past weekend. All fell behind early and all had a chance to win late. All three lost. Advantage: Browns.
LOOKING AT STEFANSKI: There were a couple of observations we made about the Browns head coach during Monday's 5th Quarter. First, Jay feels like he's acting a little too much like his mentor, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer, in how he's approaching close games. "You let the strength of your roster build a lead, then you just go soft on defense and play not to lose the game," Jay said.
Jay compiled an eye-opening stat that we didn't get to on the show, but bears revealing here. The Browns have been shut out in the 4th quarter in seven of their last eight games. The one game they did score? 7 points against the Bengals.
Dino wonders if there's a disconnect between the coach and his quarterback Baker Mayfield. During an interview with Kurt Warner, Mayfield hinted of some issues he's had with "internal things" this season. As Ben Axelrod tweeted out, Stefanski said he's not sure what his QB is referring to.
Jay suggested that we look at Stefanski's victory speech after the Ravens game. "Something's missing. There was really nothing there," Jay said. "Right now, it feels like there's an element of spark and electricity that's missing."
The best tweet we saw from Sunday to express frustration over the Browns' inability to put teams away? This one from our Mike Polk Jr.
Read Jay Crawford's thoughts on Sunday's loss here
Watch the 5th Quarter with Jay and Dino in the player below:
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