MIKE GROLL / AP Enlarge
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- It was cold and wet. But the Browns expected that.
The Buffalo Bills were a better team than their 2-10 record. But the Browns realized that.
Yet, like a nightmare they couldn't shake from their minds, the Browns could not stop the events that would lead to a 13-6 loss to their I-90 nemesis Sunday. As predictable as lake-effect snow, the Browns played down to their competition and produced a stinker of a game to fall to 5-8.
"We can't be a good team until we're consistently good," said Josh Cribbs. "We do play up and down to teams' talents."
The Browns fumbled five times -- three by running back Peyton Hillis -- and Jake Delhomme threw an interception. Only one of Hillis' fumbles were recovered by the Bills, but the repeated errors traumatized the Browns' one-dimensional offense.
Whenever Delhomme had to throw, odds were good that the combination of a wet ball and his shaky arm would make for plenty of wounded ducks tossed up for grabs. Delhomme was 12-of-20 for 86 yards and lost a fumble on a strip sack. His longest completion of 34 yards was underthrown, causing Mohamed Massaquoi to stop and wait for it to float down.
"I'm not using [the wet conditions] as an excuse," Delhomme said. "We didn't play good football. It's very disappointing. You have to take your medicine."
The game turned when the Browns ran over the Bills on their first possession but came up about a half-yard short of the end zone and settled for a field goal.
Hillis ran seven times for 49 yards, smashing through the 1,000-yard season barrier on his fourth carry. But on third-and-goal from the Bills' 1, Hillis was stopped cold running behind fullback Lawrence Vickers. It was Hillis' first third-and-1 failure of the season.
Rather than give it another try, coach Eric Mangini elected to leave with a sure three points.
"I did think about [going for it], but I felt like the game was going to be close, like a one-score game," Mangini said. "I figured we would have more drives later on."
Except nobody took into account this: What happens if Hillis contracts a case of fumble-itis?
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