Browns will ask NFL for explanation on Duke Johnson's fumble

BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns will turn in tape of Duke Johnson's fumble and Washington's "recovery" to the NFL this week for an explanation, Hue Jackson said Monday.

Johnson fumbled in the fourth quarter with the Browns losing 24-20.

Replays showed Johnson standing up holding the ball while line judge Sarah Thomas comes in, looks at a pile of players and signals Washington's ball. No other official came in to say they saw Johnson with the ball, or to overrule Thomas' call.

The decision left the team perplexed and angry. Jackson argued, quarterback Cody Kessler stood in disbelief with his hands on his head and receiver Terrelle Pryor was furious because he was standing next to Johnson as he held up the ball.

"I think they thought the ball was still in the pile, and me and Duke were tapping the refs saying we got the ball right here," Pryor said.

Players on the sidelines said that the ball bounced right back to Johnson and he clearly recovered it.

The NFL handles reviews on turnovers. Jackson said Thomas came to him to tell him the play was being reviewed. The Browns coach was not allowed to challenge the call.

"She told me, she said, 'Coach it's been reviewed; I got the signal that it is a turnover,'" Jackson said. "I can't challenge it anyway. I know people want me to jump on the officials right there and run on the field and go bananas and all that, but what is that going to do?

"I'm not going to let my team ever see me lose it like that. I don't think that is what is important. Obviously we'll turn that in and the league will make their determination. Again, they (the officials) are trying to do the best job they can too."

The league's position is that no replay clearly showed who recovered the ball. Since the call on the field was Washington's ball, it stayed that way.

"As the scuffle is ensuing he's holding the ball up," Jackson said. "He stands up and holds the ball up as if he did fumble it, he went and got the ball back. But I don't think that that's the way it's interpreted upstairs from the camera view that they had."

Though the Redskins got no points after the turnover, the play was an important momentum play and did end a Browns' drive at midfield. Nobody knows what would have happened, but the Browns would have at least kept possession with a chance to take the lead.

"She was very clear, 'Hey Hue we got the signal, it's Washington's ball,'" Jackson said. "It was disappointing, but at the same time I can't change the call. That's the call that was made."

Jackson emphasized the same thing he emphasized on Sunday: If the Browns don't fumble, there is no discussion about the call or the officials.

"At the end of the day it's our responsibility to hold on to the ball," Jackson said. "We can't give and put people in a situation to hold judgment for our future, you know what I mean? We get to control that. Don't turn it over. You don't turn it over and there's never anybody second guessing or asking this or asking that."

Johnson's was one of two key fumbles that cost the Browns on Sunday. Because Isaiah Crowell was tired and Duke Johnson was being checked for a concussion, fullback Malcolm Johnson got his first carry in a game and fumbled with the Browns up three and at the Washington 16. Jackson said he understood the second-guessing about using the fullback at that spot, but he promised Malcolm Johnson had plenty of work in practice running the ball.

"He gets work," Jackson said. "He gets enough work. Enough work for me to trust him to go in there and carry this ball. I know everybody wants to make a big point about the fullback here carrying the ball and it was his first carry. It was his first carry here in a game. Got it.

"But I trust Malcolm. Malcolm is one of our 11, 12, 13 starters, however you want to determine on our offensive football team. And he's practiced. Like I said (Sunday) he's a paid professional athlete that can carry the football. And we've conditioned him to do that, to go back there and run the ball and pass protect if need be. Because that's the way injuries are. Sometimes you just got to put guys back there. So I trusted him in that situation to go do a job."

Jackson repeated: If Malcolm Johnson doesn't fumble, there's no discussion.

"Let's do our part," Jackson said. "Our part is to hold on to the ball."