BEREA: Rookie running back Trent Richardson knows the Browns traded up one spot to draft him third overall in this year’s draft so he could carry them to victory by closing games.
But when the going got tough after halftime Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, Richardson’s production fizzled. As a result, he blames himself for the Browns’ 23-20 loss in overtime and hopes to earn redemption when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) on Sunday.
“You can put the game on me,” Richardson said Wednesday after practice. “I’m a man. I’m going to man up to my mistakes and my faults. No man is scared away of his own faults or decision-making. I made my decision, and I messed up.”
Richardson finished with 28 carries for 95 yards (3.4 average) to go along with six catches for 49 yards. But after halftime, he had only 12 carries for 33 yards (2.75 average) and three catches for 18 yards. In the fourth quarter, he fumbled and was stuffed for no gain three times, including once on the goal line. In overtime, he ran once for no gain.
The 5-foot-9, 230-pound Richardson has been playing through a painful rib cartilage injury since Oct. 14. He reiterated Wednesday that he’s still not 100 percent healthy. Still, he realizes the Browns (2-8) count on him to finish strong no matter what.
“That’s what they picked me for,” Richardson said. “That’s why they moved and jumped up spots. I do feel it’s on me, but I can’t get down on myself and have a bad game this Sunday. That game’s over with. I beat myself up after the game and saw what I should’ve done and watched the film on the plane. I knew I could’ve made better decisions.”
Of the plays Richardson wants back, two stick out.
On third-and-5 at the Browns’ 12-yard line, he took a pitch to the left and had one defender to beat for a first down. But Cowboys free safety Gerald Sensabaugh popped Richardson and forced him to fumble a yard shy of the marker.
“That’s something that rarely happens to me,” Richardson said. “I wish I would have run through him instead of trying to shake him. I made a poor decision.”
Then before third-and-goal at the Cowboys’ 1, Richardson asked for the ball. He got it, but coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Brad Childress didn’t call the play he wanted. He tried to leap into the end zone, only to be stopped by linebacker Dan Connor for no gain. Fullback Alex Smith cleared space to Richardson’s right, and Childress said Richardson should have hit the “hole wider.”
“I didn’t see what I thought I saw,” Richardson said. “I tried to jump over the pile, and I didn’t score. I wanted the ball, and the play I wanted, we didn’t call.
“Coach made his decision. That wasn’t the play I called, but he made his decision, and I agree with everything called.”
Regardless of the play selection, Richardson didn’t rise to the occasion in crunch time. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden, though, doesn’t believe Richardson should be the scapegoat for the loss.
“I don’t agree one bit,” Weeden said. “He rushed for 95 yards. He played hard. I can see why he says it because he’s that kind of guy. He’s a competitor like that and he’s a team player. We all made mistakes in the game that looking back we could have adjusted that maybe [would have] allowed us to finish. So I wouldn’t agree with him. It says a lot about his character to say that, but he’s a hell of a player. I take more of the blame than he does.”
Starting cornerback Joe Haden practiced Wednesday after injuring an oblique muscle last week and sitting out Sunday. He had limited participation, according to the injury report, but his return is a sign he could play Sunday.
Cornerback Dimitri Patterson, meanwhile, continued to miss practice while recovering from a high ankle sprain and torn ligament that has sidelined him for the past five games. Patterson said he tested his ankle Tuesday and Wednesday as part of his rehabilitation, but it sounds as if he won’t play against the Steelers.
“There’s still some more I need to do to gauge it, but it went good,” Patterson said. “It’s going to be tough to practice this week.”
Cornerback Buster Skrine (concussion) and special-teams ace Ray Ventrone (calf) also missed practice.
For the Steelers, wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (ribs), offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle), defensive end Ziggy Hood (back), quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger (right shoulder) and Byron Leftwich (ribs) and safety Troy Polamalu (calf) didn’t practice.
Johnson Bademosi, an undrafted rookie, will serve as the Browns’ fourth captain Sunday.
“I’m honored to be captain,” he said. “To be voted by my teammates as a captain, it’s a blessing.”
Bademosi has excelled on special teams all season, but he was forced to play his first defensive snaps in the NFL after Skrine suffered a concussion late in the fourth quarter against the Cowboys. Bademosi broke up a third-down pass in overtime that gave the Browns possession and a chance to win. Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said Bademosi could play more cornerback against the Steelers depending on the injuries of other players.
“I knew throughout the whole season that I was just one play away from being in there,” Bademosi said. “So that was my opportunity, and I took full advantage of it.”
Childress said he wants to use wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, who has dealt with an injured hamstring for the majority of this season, more this weekend than he did Sunday. Massaquoi played 16-of-70 snaps (23 percent). … The Browns announced on their official Facebook page that all fans who attend Sunday’s game against the Steelers will receive an inflatable flag courtesy of Ticketmaster. The flag, which features the Browns’ logo, quickly became a punch line on social media because it happens to be white. White flags, of course, symbolize surrender. … CBS will air a segment today about former Browns running back Jerome Harrison’s battle with health problems. He had a brain tumor removed in 2011 and is still dealing with complications. The story will air on NFL Today, which begins at noon. … Wide receiver/returner Josh Cribbs said he cleared the air with Shurmur after telling the Plain Dealer last week he wants to be more involved on offense. “I had a talk with Coach, and we talked about some things,” Cribbs said. “We have an understanding. But I still want to be involved. That’s all the same.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com.