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Pat Shurmur would have Cleveland Browns punt again

Nothing drives us crazier than gutless fourth-down decisions. Going for it on fourth-and-short is very often the percentage play; coaches truly are taking a bigger risk by punting away the ball.

It's all about the situation. And Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur had one of the most inexplicably gutless punts we've ever seen in Sunday's 17-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

The situation: Fourth-and-one from the Colts' 41-yard line with under seven minutes left in the game. The Browns trailed by four points. It makes sense to go for fourth-and-1 on that part of the field at any point of the game, much less down four with so little time left in a defensive game.

The entire befuddling sequence wasn't appreciated by new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam. He was seen on television folding his legs in his suite and frowning in the video above. The two men exchanged texts Monday, but Shurmur was unaware of Haslam's reaction.

"I'd do that again. I think it worked out," Shurmur said Monday of the punt.

There are so few times in football when fans and media truly are in position to say: "That's a dumb move." The coaches always have a massive advantage in information. But there is no reasonable way to explain Shurmur's maddening reasoning.


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The Browns punted the ball and gained all of 21 yards of field position. Shurmur's decision essentially got the best possible outcome, and it still was lousy. He needed his defense to deliver a three-and-out just to get the ball back in the same position after five more minutes ticked off the clock. So the Browns got stuck with a fourth-and-6 from the Colts' 39-yard-line that time. They went for it and failed.

To review: Shurmur's plan essentially worked out perfectly, and he ended up in a worse situation with far more time off the clock. Instead of trying to score twice, the Browns only tried once. All for the sake of 21 yards of field position.

Shurmur played not to lose, and he'll do it again. Haslam should be taking notes.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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