I’m on vacation this week, actually. I’m enjoying the sun and the sand and the food and the atmosphere, and I’m not at all certain why I decided this would be a good week to write about the most irritating losses of the Mike Smith era, but here we are at No. 4.
I had a difficult time narrowing this one down, simply because there are so many options. Hey, remember that game in London against Detroit that Smitty absolutely blew because he forgot how time outs work? That was definitely a candidate for this position on the list.
There was the Vikings game, also during that season, when so many people got hurt that Levine Toilolo had to actually play tackle. Another possibility was the final game of the 2014 season, the one that sealed Mike Smith’s fate. All Atlanta had to do was beat the damn Panthers and finish 7-9 and they would have won the division and made the playoffs. Instead, they scored exactly one field goal and lost 34-3.
But I went with a different game that had the same outcome as all of those other games. This particular game, when the Browns beat the Falcons at home during the 2014 season, was actually the genesis of the idea for this series.
4. Week 12, 2014: Browns 26, Falcons 24
Brian Hoyer did pretty much everything he could to lose that game for the Browns. He threw three picks, including one in the back of the end zone to Desmond Trufant that looked like it might spark a rally from Atlanta.
Matt Ryan had his share of mistakes, too. He threw a pick and then fumbled on back-to-back possessions in the first half. But still, the Falcons took a one-point lead into halftime. Surely they could pull off a win against the dang Browns.
Nope! Matt Bryant kicked a field goal to take a 24-23 lead, but Mike Smith used a time out that he didn’t need to use, and the Browns had 44 entire seconds to get into field goal range and let Billy Cundiff win it. It was a stupid, ridiculous loss and I’m still mad about it.
Look, clock management isn’t easy, but it’s not rocket science, either. The Falcons could have won this one, and the Lions game, if Mike Smith had just made better game management decisions. Instead, the Falcons lost and Smitty ended up getting fired at the end of that garbage 6-10 season.
My brother, a lifelong Browns fan, was in town for that game. I was sitting in the press box, and my brother kept texting me from his seat to gloat about how dumb it was that the Falcons blew the game, and I’m actually still mad about that, too.
So far we’ve got the Saints snapping the Falcons’ eight-game winning streak in 2012, and then this clown show of a loss ranked at No. 5 and No. 4. How would you rank these stupid, aggravating losses?