GLENDALE, Ariz: Browns coach Pat Shurmur was vague Sunday when asked about his quarterback situation after his team’s 20-17 overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Seneca Wallace had just finished his first start of the season in place of Colt McCoy, who could return this week from the concussion he suffered Dec. 8 when he took a helmet-to-face-mask hit from Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison. McCoy hasn’t practice since, and he sat out Sunday.
“It’s too early to tell,” Shurmur said. “The decision is made when you’ve got both guys healthy. I don’t know what the situation is yet. We will see. In the event that Colt can’t play next week, then, of course, we will stick with Seneca. In the event that he can play, then we will cross that bridge when we need to.”
Wallace made his opinion known.
“At this point, Colt was the starter at the beginning of the season,” Wallace said. “If he comes back healthy, he should finish the season. … At the end of the day, it’s the coaches’ decision to play who they want to play. If he’s healthy, he should play. He started the season, and he should finish it.”
Making his first start since Oct. 10, 2010, Wallace completed 18-of-31 passes for 226 yards with a touchdown. His 76-yard touchdown to rookie wide receiver Greg Little was the second-longest completion of his career.
Still, Wallace’s lost fumble with 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter proved costly. The Cardinals gained possession at the Browns’ 5-yard line, allowing Jay Feely to make a 33-yard field goal that ultimately forced overtime.
Meanwhile, McCoy could be on the verge of trying to make a comeback. If he is cleared to return to action and doesn’t suffer any setbacks, he would be ready to play in the Browns’ final two regular-season games: Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens and Jan. 1 against the Steelers.
“He’s feeling a lot better,” a league source told the Beacon Journal on Sunday. “He still has to go through the regular steps starting [today].”
McCoy sat out two plays after absorbing Harrison’s vicious hit but was not tested for a concussion on the sideline before re-entering the game late in the fourth quarter. Browns President Mike Holmgren said the team’s doctors and trainers did not use the standard Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2 test on McCoy because he showed no symptoms of a concussion at the time, and they didn’t see Harrison’s hit.
Representatives of the NFL and the NFL Players Association met with the Browns this past week to review the team’s handling of McCoy’s injury. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the NFLPA is still “baffled” by the Browns allowing McCoy to re-enter the game. The players union will decide this week whether to file a grievance against the Browns, publicly criticize the league or ask for reforms in how players with concussions are treated during games, Schefter reported.
No Little day
Little had five catches for a career-high 131 yards, including his 76-yard touchdown reception from Wallace. His touchdown was the longest offensive play for the Browns since wide receiver Braylon Edwards had a 78-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Derek Anderson against the Ravens on Sept. 30, 2007.
Before Little scored the long touchdown, Wallace rolled to his right to escape pressure. He then connected with Little, who outran Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington along the sideline. Little celebrated by leaping and slam dunking the ball over the crossbar. Then he folded his arms as he looked at the crowd.
“The designed play is for me to break across the middle on a 10-yard crossing route, but [Wallace] spinned out and headed to what would be the right,” Little said. “And I spinned out and went deep. [Wallace] definitely does a great job of keeping his eyes downfield and making plays.”
Little leads the team with 57 receptions. He now has the second-highest number of catches by a Browns rookie.
“He’s a great receiver,” Wallace said. “He’s young, and we just try to make sure he keeps getting better each day. Sometimes he might get down on himself because he tries to make every play. I think he presses sometimes. He came out today relaxed and made some big plays. It’s good for him. It’s going to have a lot of carryover to the next game and next season.”
Browns punter Brad Maynard successfully played keep-away from Cardinals rookie Patrick Peterson for most of the game. However, Peterson’s 32-yard punt return in overtime helped lift the Cardinals to victory.
The Browns realize a playmaker of Peterson’s caliber can change the game with one opportunity.
“He reminds me of myself when I’m healthy,” Browns wide receiver/returner Josh Cribbs said. “He wants to make a play. … The explosive speed is there, and he’s a rook. He’ll be a great talent in this league.”
Cribbs said his injured groin caused him to forgo his return duties as the game progressed. Rookie Buster Skrine took over.
Inactives, lineup changes
McCoy, rookie fullback Owen Marecic (concussion), strong safety T.J. Ward (foot), cornerback James Dockery, offensive linemen Steve Vallos and Oniel Cousins and defensive lineman Kiante Tripp were the Browns’ inactives. Usama Young started at strong safety in place of Ward, who has missed six consecutive games since spraining his right foot Nov. 6 against the Houston Texans. Eddie Williams, who was promoted from the practice squad Friday, played fullback in place of Marecic.
Linebacker Titus Brown left with the game in the fourth quarter with an injured right knee, Shurmur said. Wide receiver Jordan Norwood and linebacker Benjamin Jacobs suffered concussions, Shurmur said.
Alex Smith left the game in the first quarter with an injured shoulder, but he returned. Young suffered a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter, but he came back, too.
Former Browns offensive tackle Scott Bolzan, who has suffered from retrograde amnesia ever since falling in his office bathroom three years ago, attended the game with his wife, Joan. The couple were on the sideline during pregame festivities as special guests of the Browns. The Bolzans, residents of the East Valley of Phoenix, also attended a Browns Backers bash Saturday night in Tempe, Ariz. … Strongside linebacker Chris Gocong, left guard Shawn Lauvao and Maynard served as game captains for the Browns. ... Gocong and rookie defensive end Jabaal Sheard had two sacks apiece. Sheard has a team leading 7.5 sacks this season, the second-most by a Browns rookie since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://browns.ohio.com. Follow the Browns on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ABJ_Browns and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/browns.abj.