The Indianapolis Colts lost a heartbreaker to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, in a thrilling Week 7 matchup. Cleveland scored a touchdown to go up 39-38 with 15 seconds left, however, the game-winning touchdown didn’t come without controversy. During the Browns’ last drive, Colts cornerback Darrell Baker Jr., who entered the game for an injured JuJu Brents, received two questionable penalties.
The first penalty came on a play where EJ Speed recorded a strip sack that DeForest Buckner recovered, essentially ending the game. However, Cleveland regained possession because Baker was penalized for illegal contact. One play later, Baker was penalized again for pass interference. However, there was a debate on if it was even pass interference, and if the ball was even catchable.
Regardless, those two penalties set the Browns up on the one-yard line, where they would eventually run in the game-winning touchdown. With both penalities being questionable, and making way for a Browns touchdown, people were quick to fault the referees for Indy’s loss. However, this loss is on Indianapolis.
Colts have no one to blame but themselves for losing to Browns
Were the calls questionable? Absolutely. It seems like the majority of the calls in today’s NFL are questionable or just wrong. Still, Indianapolis did far more harm to itself than the referees did. Even if we just stick with the Browns’ game-winning drive. That was a poor display for Indy’s defenses.
Cleveland got the ball on its own 20 yard line, down five points with 2:35 left in the game. All the Colts had to do was get a stop or keep the Browns out of the end zone. Instead, Indy got walked down the field. The Colts gave up a 30-yard completion on a 3rd-and-10, and that led to even more explosive runs and passes. By the time the first penalty was called, the Browns were already down to Indy’s 13-yard line. Sure, the strip sack and recovery would’ve saved the Colts, and the defense put up a great fight at the goal line, but the truth of the matter is they didn’t come through in a clutch moment.
The defense wasn’t the only problem on Sunday either. Truth be told, if Gardner Minshew did a better job of protecting the football, the game probably wouldn’t have even been close. Minshew threw one interception, and lost three fumbles, matching his four turnovers from a week prior.
Between Minshew’s turnovers and the defense’s collapse, the Colts don’t have the right to blame the referees for this loss; they didn’t play a good enough game for that privilege. Yes, Indy was resilient, almost pulling out the win, and think what you want of the two late penalties, but it was Indy that cost itself a win on Sunday.