The poor Cleveland Browns. For some reason, the universe seems to think the Browns need help demoralizing their fans and sinking their own ship—it keeps sending in wholly unnecessary conspirators to wreak havoc. First, it was RGIII's shoulder, then it was a bogus taunting penalty that killed a potential comeback in the final 30 seconds against the Ravens last month, and now, an inexplicable fumble recovery awarded to Washington yesterday.
Early in the fourth quarter, while trailing Washington by just four, Duke Johnson picked up a first down on second-and-two, and then promptly had the ball stripped. It was clearly a fumble, but Johnson also seemed to just as clearly recover it. As you can see in the GIFs, Johnson was stripped, but it looked like he fell right back down on the ball. Then he calmly stood up, raising the ball to prove he picked it back up, while a scrum of players fought for possession of some air.
The play was quickly blown dead and line judge Sarah Thomas just as quickly signaled that Washington had recovered. Again, this all happened while A) Johnson was holding the ball up and B) a bunch of players wrestled each other for possession of not a football. The play was reviewed, as all turnovers are, but according to a NFL spokesperson, there was no definitive angle showing that Washington did not recover the ball, which is a strange thing to consider.
"The on-field ruling was a fumble, recovered by Washington. It was confirmed as a fumble in instant replay without the need to stop the game. As to the recovery, several different angles were looked at, but with nothing definitive shown, there was no need to stop the game because the on-field ruling that awarded possession to Washington would have stood.''
Johnson's fumble was the second of three straight turnovers for the Browns, and if you're looking for a silver lining, this was the only one that did not result in a Washington touchdown.
Cleveland lost to Washington 31-20.