He gained 72 yards — with a 59-yard run.
Yet after the long run midway through the second quarter, Crowell got one carry. He’s confused — and not exactly happy.
“I’m sure that I can help my team more than I really do and more than I’ve been given the opportunity to do,” Crowell said Wednesday as the Browns prepared for Sunday’s game in Chicago against the Bears. “Really it just upsets me. Sometimes I feel disrespected about it, but I can’t even think about it. That’s the coach’s decision.”
Crowell started slow this season (287 yards, 3.9 per carry through seven games) but he’s come on in the last seven games — and it has him in some interesting territory among NFL running backs. After averaging 4.8 yards per carry in 2016, Crowell is averaging 4.4 yards this season.
In the last seven games, Crowell has run for 501 yards. That came on 88 carries, giving him an average of 5.7 yards per carry. (Included in those seven games was a clunker against Jacksonville when he ran 11 times for 18 yards.)
The 501 yards rank seventh in the league in those games, but Crowell’s 88 carries are by far the lowest in the group. The average per carry ranks second, behind Ingram.
The five carries Sunday gnawed at Crowell.
“For sure I’m upset about it,” he said. “I feel like I can help my team more than I do and more than I’m given the opportunity to do.”
In the second quarter, the Browns drove 96 yards for a touchdown by running five times and not throwing once. At that point the Browns had called nine runs and eight passes; by game’s end they had 37 passes and 19 runs, seven by quarterback DeShone Kizer.
Crowell went from 19 carries and 121 yards against the Packers to five carries and 72 yards against Baltimore.
“I’m not being selfish,” he said. “I feel like I can help more if I have more opportunities. I’m not being selfish because I know we have other playmakers on the team also, and I want them to get their share too. I just feel like, five carries, I don’t think that’s … I’m upset with it.”
Coach Hue Jackson has said he goes away from the run because the Browns are behind. But after their touchdown Sunday, the Browns led 10-7 and didn’t fall behind by more than seven until the middle of the third quarter.
Some teams don’t even give up on the run when they’re down 14, but the Browns’ tendency has been to emphasize the pass. According to the web site teamrankings.com, the Browns have thrown the ball 62.05 percent of the time, eighth highest in the league. They do that despite the fact they rank 31st in yards per attempt (6.0), 32nd in completion percentage (54.7) and first in interceptions (25). The Brown are eighth in the league in passing attempts and tied for 25th in rushing attempts.
What’s especially quirky about the situation is that the Browns were built in the offseason to win with the running game and defense. Jackson vowed he would give Crowell the ball, which he admitted he failed to do in 2016. Crowell’s carries have gone up marginally. In 2016 he averaged 12.4 per game, this season he’s averaging 12.8. He has not had a game with 20 carries — though part of the reason is he and Duke Johnson share time.
The unusual factor for Crowell and Johnson, though, is that both have been productive while the receivers and a rookie quarterback have struggled.
Crowell will be a free agent after the season, and while he is not mentioned among the league’s top backs his numbers will be noticed.
He has not missed a game due to injury since he joined the Browns, he’s played in all 30 Browns games the last two seasons and he is among rare company with his per carry average. The one thing he’s lacking: carries.
“I don’t want to get into the future because I don’t know what the future holds,” Crowell said. “Whatever the best is, I just want the best.”
Is he open minded about staying with the Browns if new general manager John Dorsey is more interested in signing him than Sashi Brown evidently was?
“I’m open minded about everything,” Crowell said.