BEREA — Guard Jason Pinkston thanked the pilots, drove home and didn’t let go of his little girl.
“I got my daughter and held her for a good 30 minutes, just kissing her, telling her I love her,” Pinkston said Monday.
He was shaken by the short flight Sunday night from Cincinnati to Cleveland. Strong winds caused severe turbulence and a rough landing that many on board called the hardest of their lives.
“I prayed the entire 45 minutes,” said Pinkston, who admitted he was already afraid of flying. “I talked to the plane the entire way. I talked to some family members who have passed away, just to guide us.
“It was terrifying. It was the real thing. The weather was so bad. We got away with one last night.”
The Browns rushed to leave Paul Brown Stadium and fly home after the 41-20 loss to the Bengals because they were told they had a small window in which to make it.
“I’m sure the conditions were stressful for our pilots, who did a phenomenal job,” Browns spokesman Zak Gilbert said in an email. “It’s important to note that neither our team nor United Airlines would’ve given us clearance to depart if our safety was in jeopardy. The airport also gave us clearance to land.”
Defensive end Billy Winn said he used to love flying until he realized he wasn’t invincible. Now he hates it.
“Holy cow! I swear the wing was a couple feet from the ground,” he said. “If they said it wasn’t that bad, they’re lying to you. It was a little rough.”
“Billy was shaking like a little girl,” linebacker Paul Kruger interjected.
Coach Rub Chudzinski acknowledged the “rough landing” but said he was engrossed watching the game tape. Tight end Jordan Cameron thought a lot of his teammates overreacted.
“Everyone was freaking out, I didn’t think it was that bad,” he said. “There was some turbulence, but it wasn’t too serious. At least I thought so.
“Some guys were calling their moms after the flight.”
Protect that punt
Long snapper Christian Yount blamed himself for the deflected punt of Spencer Lanning that went 9 yards, and coach Rob Chudzinski assigned responsibility to linebackers Eric Martin and Barkevious Mingo for the subsequent blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown.
“A straight rush that split our tackle (Martin) and our wing (Mingo). It’s a zone principle,” Chudzinski said. “There needs to be help from the inside guy (Martin) and he ultimately is responsible for that.”
Cincinnati’s Jayson DiManche lined up wide and ran past Martin, who blocked a guy on the inside who was already accounted for. Mingo — who said Sunday it was his fault — also let DiManche go by, and upback Chris Ogbonnaya couldn’t get over in time to save the play.
On the deflected punt, Yount’s snap wasn’t as tight as normal, waffled back and forced Lanning to take a step to his right to catch the ball. Shawn Williams ran a stunt from the left, found an opening in the middle of the line and reached to get a piece of the ball.
“The snap wasn’t where it needed to be so I’m sure that had some effect with the get-off time,” Yount said. “At the same time if we pick up the stunt it’s not an issue. It was kind of a perfect storm.”
Yount said the wind wasn’t a factor in the snap.
See spot change
The Browns lost a half-yard Sunday for no reason and Chudzinski’s looking for an explanation.
On first-and-goal from the 2-yard line in the first quarter, Willis McGahee was credited with a 1-yard run and the officials spotted the ball at the 1½-yard line. After an incompletion on second down, the official mistakenly placed the ball at the 2.
“Trying to find out. I don’t know exactly why,” Chudzinski said.
Jason Campbell threw an incompletion on third down, and Chudzinski called for a field goal. The Browns lead the league in fourth-down attempts and conversions and Chudzinski went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the first quarter of the win over the Ravens on Nov. 3.
“If it would’ve been closer, I may have gone differently on that,” he said. “But where it was at the 2-yard line and not knowing what the weather was going to (be like) in the future through the course of the game, I just felt like getting points there and getting points early in that game when the conditions were good enough was important.”
One that got away
With the Browns ranked 26th in rushing (83.6 yards per game) through Sunday, the performance of running back Bobby Rainey with the Buccaneers has been noticed. He carried 30 times for 163 yards, a 5.4 average and two touchdowns Sunday, and caught a touchdown. The previous week he ran eight times for 45 yards and a score.
Rainey was claimed by the Browns on Sept. 1 after he was waived by Baltimore. He rushed 13 times for 34 yards (2.6 average), caught four passes for 19 yards and returned six kickoffs for a 24.5 average. He was waived Oct. 18.
“Would love to have him here and I’m glad he’s doing well,” Chudzinski said. “Where we were at with the roster at the time, we were short on some other positions and just had to make some moves, particularly for some other positions and for some special teams considerations as well.”
The Browns activated receiver Tori Gurley, who’s more versatile on special teams, from the practice squad to take Rainey’s spot. The Browns had also picked up running back/kickoff returner Fozzy Whittaker on Sept. 30. Whittaker has carried 11 times for 42 yards and caught 12 passes for 89 yards with a touchdown.
Winn has played a snap at fullback in each of the last two games. Against the Bengals, he ran an out route on the goal line but was covered.
“The corner snatched me up immediately,” said Winn, who added he has great hands.
Winn (6-foot-4, 295 pounds) played 19 snaps on defense and said he’s still a full-time defensive player. But he enjoys the time on the other side of the ball.
“I do. The more you can do for the football team, it helps you in the long run,” he said.
The Browns could use help at fullback. Ogbonnaya has been playing there all year but is a natural tailback, and coordinator Norv Turner would like to get him more carries.
Does Winn see an increased role in his future?
“I don’t know. I’ll do what I can to help the team,” he said. “If it happens, it happens.”
Chudzinski said inside linebacker Craig Robertson has a knee sprain and receiver/returner Armanti Edwards has an ankle sprain and they were scheduled for MRIs on Monday. The results weren’t known.
Both left the game.
• In the search to improve the running game, Ogbonnaya played 46 of 80 offensive snaps Sunday, with Whittaker getting 23 and McGahee 13.
Contact Scott Petrak at (440) 329-7253 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.