CLEVELAND – The Browns’ mascot can’t even stay on his clogs.
This season of embarrassment has a new symbolic blooper.
Early in Sunday’s 23-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland’s “Brownie The Elf” attempted to retrieve a football that had bounced out of bounds following a punt when he slipped in the snowy conditions and fell to the ground, landing on his side. As the mascot, who resembles one of Snow White’s seven dwarfs, reached for the ball in vain, it was scooped up by a security officer on the sideline.
The comical gaffe was caught by CBS’ cameras and instantly went viral on social media.
And so it goes for the Browns (0-13).
Quarterback Robert Griffin III returned from injury and played for the first time in three months, but didn’t stop Cleveland from falling closer to a 0-16 finish.
Andy Dalton threw two touchdown passes in the first half to Tyler Eifert as the Bengals (5-7-1) kept their playoff chances pulsating for another week.
Griffin hadn’t played since the Sept. 11 opener, when he broke a bone in his left shoulder. He had a handful of positive plays, showed poise under pressure and most importantly, survived to play another week.
“He showed that he belongs,” coach Hue Jackson said. “He has to get better in some areas. I am not running from that, but for the first time back out late in the season like this, I thought he held his own.”
Griffin scored on a 1-yard sneak in the third quarter, but the Browns (0-13) lost their 16th straight dating to Dec. 13 of last season. Cleveland has lost 23 of 24 and 31 of 34 since the end of 2014.
The Browns have three games left to avoid joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the NFL’s only 0-16 teams.
“We’re not going 0-16,” said rookie linebacker Emmanuel Ogbah. “We’re going to keep fighting to the very end. We still have three more games left.”
Griffin finished 12 of 28 for 104 yards and one interception. After posting a 0.00 QB rating in the first half, the 26-year-old was able spark a brief comeback and felt satisfied with his performance.
“I felt like I saw the field well,” said Griffin, who was pleased he was able to absorb some big hits. “All that’s a side note, you want to find a way to win.”
Buccaneers 16, Saints 11: In Tampa, the streaking Buccaneers bolstered their playoff hopes by building an early lead and holding off Drew Brees and New Orleans for their fifth straight victory.
Titans 13, Broncos 10: In Nashville, Tennessee, DeMarco Murray ran for 92 yards and a touchdown, and the Titans held on to keep a piece of first place in the AFC South. Tennessee (7-6) also climbed above .500 for the first time all season.
Redskins 27, Eagles 22: In Philadelphia, Chris Thompson’s 25-yard touchdown run with 1:54 remaining lifted Washington. Kirk Cousins threw two touchdown passes, including an 80-yard toss to DeSean Jackson.
Steelers 27, Bills 20
In Orchard, Park, New York, Le’Veon Bell scored three times and set a franchise record with 236 yards rushing, finding traction on a slick, snow-covered field.
Vikings 25, Jaguars 16: In Jacksonville, Florida, Matt Asiata scored on a short touchdown run, Kai Forbath kicked four field goals and Minnesota won for just the second time in nine weeks.
Texans 22, Colts 17: In Indianapolis, Lamar Miller scored Houston’s only touchdown and the Texans’ defense stopped Andrew Luck on Indy’s final drive. Houston (7-6) retained its share of the AFC South lead by ending its three-game losing streak.
Panthers 28, Chargers 16: In Charlotte, North Carolina, the Panthers’ defense forced five turnovers against San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers and had five sacks and a safety.
Dolphins 26, Cardinals 23: In Miami Gardens, Florida, Ryan Tannehill threw three touchdown passes before being sidelined with a knee injury, and Andrew Franks kicked a 21-yard field goal as time expired.
Lions 20, Bears 17: In Detroit, Matthew Stafford ran for a go-ahead, 7-yard touchdown with 3:17 left after throwing two interceptions in the fourth quarter, including one that was returned for a score.
Jets 23, 49ers 17 (OT): In Santa Clara, California, Bilal Powell ran for 145 yards, including the game-ending 19-yard touchdown in overtime.
Packers 38, Seahawks 10: In Green Bay, Wisconsin, Aaron Rodgers passed for 246 yards and three touchdowns and the Packers routed Seattle.
Falcons 42, Rams 14: In Los Angeles, Matt Ryan passed for 237 yards and three touchdowns and Atlanta forced five turnovers in a win over the Rams.
Giants 10, Cowboys 7: In East Rutherford, New Jersey, with a no-huddle offense and no-fooling-around defense, the New York snapped the Dallas’ 11-game winning streak.