CLEVELAND -- Kicker Zane Gonzalez had the kind of game special-teamers dread when the Cleveland Browns took on the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, Sunday.
After having a game-winning try blocked in last week’s 21-21 tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Gonzalez missed four kicks for the Browns (0-1-1), including the go-ahead and tying attempts inside the final two minutes of play in a 21-18 loss to the Saints (1-1).
“Cussing myself out in my head,” Gonzalez said following the game. “Really upset about it. It’s on me, 100 percent, but I can’t be too upset because I’m the only one who did it. I can’t blame it on nobody else.”
PHOTOS | Zane Gonzalez takes full responsibility for Cleveland Browns' loss to New Orleans Saints
Gonzalez’s day began with a pair of 39-yard field goal conversions that gave the Browns a 6-3 lead over the Saints, but that second kick was his final make of the game.
After running back Carlos Hyde rushed for a one-yard touchdown, the Browns led the Saints by a 12-3 count with 6:43 to play in the third quarter. However, the Browns missed the chance to go up by 10 points when Gonzalez pulled the attempt wide left.
The Browns started the fourth quarter with possession of the football and marched from their own 18-yard line to the New Orleans 26, but when the offense stalled, Gonzalez was sent onto the field for a 44-yard attempt.
Like the first missed PAT, Gonzalez pulled the kick wide to the left.
“Kicked well in practice,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “Didn’t make them in the game today.
“I didn’t see down. Zane’s a competitor. I didn’t feel like he was down, but here it is, you’ve got to make the kicks. We all know that. He knows that.”
The Saints scored 15 straight points in the fourth quarter, but the Browns drew even at 18-18 when wide receiver Antonio Callaway hauled in a 47-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyrod Taylor with 1:16 to play in regulation.
But for the third time in a row, Gonzalez missed the kick wide to the left.
Then, after the Saints took a three-point lead with 21 seconds remaining, the Browns worked the ball down the field from their own 25-yard line to the New Orleans 34 after Taylor completed passes of 25 and 16 yards to Jarvis Landry and Callaway, respectively.
With eight seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Jackson elected to try a 52-yard field goal, but Gonzalez pushed the ball too far to the right, which gave the win to the Saints.
“I wasn’t worried about it at all,” Taylor said. “Like I said, I have confidence in our kicker. Things went wrong. That’s part of the game, but that’s not anything I’m worried about.
“I still have confidence in him moving forward, and we’re going to need him to continue to keep making kicks throughout the season. It’s not anything that I’ve lost confidence in him. He’s human, just like anyone else. Everything’s not going to be perfect all the time. We can do a better job on offense, as far as helping him out.”
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