By: Will Burchfield
Akeem Spence wasn’t shy about the role he played in a very Cleveland Browns-like moment on Sunday.
“That’s peewee football,” he said.
On second and goal from the two-yard line with 15 seconds left in the first half, the Browns — with no timeouts — ran a quarterback sneak. The Lions stopped it for no gain.
That’s when craziness ensued.
As the Browns desperately tried to get lined up to spike the football, Spence, at the bottom of a pile of bodies, appeared to pin down the leg of offensive lineman Shon Coleman. By the time Coleman got up and quarterback DeShone Kizer called for the snap, it was too late.
The clock had run out and the Browns had squandered an easy opportunity to get points.
Spence, nothing if not honest, smiled when asked if he stayed on the ground longer than he normally would have on such a play.
“Absolutely, absolutely, because we’re not going to give them a chance to run up and spike the ball and kick a field goal. That’s peewee football,” said Spence. “You’ve got no timeouts, I’m going to lay on you until you decide to get up.”
Spence was originally beneath at least four bodies, including two defensive linemen. Well aware of the situation, he was in no rush to get back to his feet.
“I had the tackle underneath me, the quarterback was on top of me and there was a whole bunch of defensive guys, so until people started piling off I wasn’t getting up,” he said. “I knew the time was coming off the clock, so it was all good.”
When the pile dispersed, Spence’s legs were intertwined with those of Coleman and he happily did little to come untangled.
“They were trying to spike it, I had his legs. I can’t push the pile off of me, so I’m going to lay there and take my time,” said Spence.
A five-year veteran, Spence wasn’t concerned about incurring a penalty for delay of game. He noted it takes some experience to walk the line between burning the clock and breaking the rules.
The situation went from bad to worse for the Browns when running back Duke Johnson took off his helmet and slammed it to the ground in frustration when the clock ran out, resulting in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Spence acknowledged that his gamesmanship ticked off the Browns.
“That’s why they were so pissed. I was laying on the tackle, so it was just kind of, I’m going to lay here until the ref tells me to get up. 15 seconds ran off and then I think Johnson threw his helmet down, so it was just all bad,” said Spence.
Said Johnson, “We were trying to get up and get to the ball and spike it to get the field goal, but the defenders weren’t getting up. I know they’re taught to get off the pile slow, but I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did. But it’s part of the game. ”
Browns head coach Hue Jackson took a lot of heat for the play, but it was Kizer who audibled into the quarterback sneak.
“It wasn’t (the call). That was DeShone doing his thing. He has the freedom to do that. That’s what he decided to do,” said tight end Seth DeValve, via The Athletic.
Still, Jackson shouldered the blame.
“That’s on me,” he said. “We don’t need to go into it. I need to do a better job with the offensive unit. It’s that simple. I’m taking the fall on everything. We’re an 0-9 football team right now.”
Asked what happened on the play, Kizer said, “I think coach addressed it in here. We have to work to get better in the red zone. I’m out there calling shots as a quarterback, so I have to do whatever I can to get better in the red zone.”
Glover Quin, who said, “I don’t know why they went quarterback sneak right there,” seemed to appreciate Spence’s stall tactics.
“They didn’t have any timeouts, there was only, what, 15 seconds left? When you’re in a big pile like that, it’s tough to get up, man. You’ve got a bunch of big bodies down there and everybody’s panicking. They start trying to hurry and get up, but there’s a lot of big linemen laying down,” he said.
Twitter predictably caught fire after the Browns’ screw-up. Jackson was the main target.
Asked about the criticism he took on Twitter, Jackson said, “I’m not worried about that. That’s the least of my worries. Twitter can blow up as far as I’m concerned. We’re talking about Hue Jackson. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m not going to defend that. It’s on me.
“I’m not worried about heat. I think you guys worry about that more than I do. I’ve been taking the heat since I came here, so I’m not going to worry about that. We didn’t get it done.”