Philly Brown Did More to Win than Lose the Orange Bowl

Michael Citro's picture
January 4, 2014 at 1:00p
You'll be missed, young man.

Football is a game, which many of us forget from time to time because we place far too much importance on it. Within that game, things happen. Some of these things are good and some, not so much.

Players train an insane amount of the time, whether taking practice reps, lifting weights, or studying film. They strive to put themselves in the best position to be successful and they work hard at it. No sane human being would put so much effort into an endeavor they didn’t care deeply about and try hard to succeed at.

So it should go without saying that players don’t make mistakes on purpose. Yet, fan reactions continue to be irrational and idiotic.

When Philly Brown opted not to call for a fair catch on a late third-quarter punt, then subsequently lost the punt, he did not lose the game for Ohio State. After all, Ohio State was still leading by nine points with more than a quarter to play. A defensive stop or continued points from the offense and everything is fine.

Sure, it put the defense in a tough spot, but those 11 guys have scholarships and a job to do, too.

Aside from the obvious aspect that football is a team sport, and one mistake does not decide a game, it not only could, but should, be argued that Philly Brown’s contributions were vital to Ohio State even being in the game to begin with.

Here is a brief summary of Philly Brown’s positive contributions to the game.

  • Brown caught the initial first down of Ohio State’s first touchdown drive of the game — a 12-yard gain on second-and-11. It got the Buckeyes out of a hole and allowed the offense to find a rhythm.
  • He caught a pass for 15 yards and added a 15-yard run that helped flip the field, eventually allowing Armani Reeves to down Cameron Johnston’s punt at the one-yard line (and therefore helped create the subsequent safety for intentional grounding on Tajh Boyd).
  • Philly threw the key downfield block on the last man with a shot at tackling Jeff Heuerman on the touchdown that pulled the Buckeyes within 20-15, and blocked well throughout the game for edge runs and Miller keepers.
  • His 18-yard catch actually helped set up that Heuerman TD by extending the drive on third-and-12.
  • He caught two passes for a combined 39 yards in the final minute of the first half to set up Miller’s second touchdown run, giving Ohio State a 22-20 lead at the break.
  • Philly posted 31 more receiving yards in the second half.

Um, no. When you look at his total contributions in context, did Philly Brown do more to help the Buckeyes win or lose the game? One bad play will never trump that many positive ones.

I can hear those out there saying “Yeah, but momentum!” The funny thing about momentum (if you even believe in such a thing) is that if one team can take it, so can the other.

There is plenty of blame to go around for the Orange Bowl loss, if you don’t simply want to credit Clemson for playing pretty well.

Obviously the defense was a problem all night. You could also point to a lack of Carlos Hyde late in the game —he carried one time for nine yards in the fourth quarter, after gaining 61 yards on 10 carries in the third, and was not used at all in the drive that followed Clemson going ahead for the last time (with 6:16 to play). And there were three Miller turnovers.

Philly Brown had a pretty outstanding four-year Ohio State career. He played with a stress fracture in his leg this season to help his team win. He is far more deserving of our respect than our scorn.

And he didn’t cost Ohio State the Orange Bowl.

Comments Show All Comments

Rocket Man's picture

Agree 100%. Great guy, great player. He's meant a lot to the team for a long time. He'll be missed. No sense remembering one bad play and forgetting everything else.

I didn't go to engineering school to be a 'people person'

Gametime's picture

I respectfully disagree. No matter how well you played all game, one mistake is all it takes to swing momentum and bury you.
(for more on this, see the entry Romo, Tony)

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington

Lawver_5's picture

Tony romo has blown multiple games, thus his reputation

Gametime's picture

Oh I know, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he's a statistically brilliant QB. Don't know why  I got dv'd, but honestly, I'm among the camp in which I believe Braxton may be holding these WRs back, including Philly. 

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington

CPDenn's picture

I'd be more inclined to believe that it's on Braxton if our WR's could consistently get separation. It's probably somewhere in the middle. 

buckeyefanatic's picture

What good does separation do when Braxton often throws behind?
I believe Braxton when he says he got hurt on the first sack of the game because it was all game that he was throwing behind, low and short.

How many batteries does it take to beat Michigan football?   1AA
Want to beat Michigan? There's an App for that.

CPDenn's picture

It matters because the receivers need to get some space, regardless of how any QB is throwing the ball. None of the WR's who have gotten major playing time this season have shown any consistent ability to shake their defender.  

Clinger76's picture

me too. You can clearly see him grimacing all game and "trying" to move it around and feeling on it.

"If you take no risks, you will suffer no defeats, But if you take no risks, you will earn no victories."

Jonnferrell's picture

That was not the end of the game, and Philly did everything he could after that to bring home the win.  Braxton could not get the ball to him.  There were other chances to win that game.

"I miss Brady Hoke."

SOF_Buckeye's picture

No need to argue with fans who put in more time on the couch than the players and coaches do on the field, weight room, etc. These type of fans are committed (or should be).

"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender." Woody Hayes

DNARCO's picture

Players train an insane amount of the time, whether taking practice reps, lifting weights, or studying film. They strive to put themselves in the best position to be successful and they work hard at it.

All the while going to school to make better their own lives...  Wish Philly was coming back, he has been a great offensive weapon for our Buckeyes. Thanks #10.


BuckeyeInOrlando's picture

I sent Philly a twitter message this morning, offering him words of encouragement and thanking him for everything he has done for the team I love.
He probably doesn't care, coming from a schmuck like me, but after seeing all of the idiots blaming him and tweeting him stupid hateful things, it was the least I could do.

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

I only regret that I have but one UV to give for this post.

bucknasty13's picture

What really did us in was 3 turnovers in the 2nd half.  I felt like we had the momentum when we  picked off Boyd late in the fourth.  I thought we were going to win the game at that point, but we turned it over again.  It certainly was not one player!  I was very impressed with the pressure Clemson throughout most of the game.

allbucksallthetime's picture

When Coach Meyer was hired the receiving corps were held in very low regard.  Philly Brown took the challenges offered by the coaching staff and has probably exceeded expectations for each of the last 2 years.  Philly has been our best and most reliable receiver and will be greatly missed.  Go Bucks!

BoFuquel's picture

Can I get an AMEN! GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

st pete bch buckeye's picture

It was a stupid play.  He did play well though.  that lost us momentum.

Buckeytrips's picture

and the game. he has been terrible all year on punt returns. How many times has he caught the ball above his head while back peddling, too many. Can not take away is play at wide receiver but should never have been on punt returns especially when you have wilson on the team.

Idaho Helga's picture

Thanks Citro for this article.  It is really sad that some people would lay the whole game on this guy when I recall thinking how well he was playing.
Philly was and is a good player.  The game was lost by the team...not just one play.  Of course it changed momentum.  But momentum changes often in a game usually.

Buckeye Chuck's picture

Yeah, and Bill Buckner had 2700 hits in the major leagues.
I understand the motivation behind this post. But Brown's fate is sealed, and no amount of wishful thinking will change that; it's the nature of sports. Ryan Hamby and Shawn Springs weren't solo goats either, and the fact that everyone reading this knows exactly what plays I'm referring to should tell you something.

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

njclebuckeye5's picture

I love Philly and I agree with your point. But, I disagree about momentum. 
"The funny thing about momentum (if you even believe in such a thing) is that if one team can take it, so can the other."
I played on a lot of sports teams through high school (like many/most of you), and let me tell you there were countless times when I felt helpless as my team and I either slugged through a half or quarter, or could not catch a break once something happened. Momentum is real, and when it's against you, it feels overwhelming.
That punt turned the field and the score around, putting our D back out there seconds after a great stand. Had to be demoralizing, and I guarantee a lot of guys were thinking, "Man, if only" for the rest of the game. Not that they were mad at Philly, or used it as an excuse, but it had to be there.
Philly left it all on the field, and was a damn good Buckeye for his career.

Lobs it to the endzone... Touchdown Devin Smith!!

D. Anthony's picture

I like Philly, but about this post, not really.

D. Anthony

DWright's picture

Regardless of what happened on the field, much love for Philly!! The way he represented the university makes me proud to call him a true Buckeye. Good luck in all your future endeavors, #10. This fan supports you.

tracyre's picture

Thank you for such a well thought out POV.  It's spot on.  One play hurt but it by no means is a reason for a game loss.  I have been so annoyed at how many blind and ignorant people can't see that.  

buckguyfan1's picture

Not the reason we lost.  

mtharp's picture

Agree but,
A muffed punt is a 14 point swing. so from possible up 16 to only up 2.  Not the whole reason but a very big play in a very big game.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Very insightful, mature, spot on and classy article Michael.  I'm not a sports analyst like the 11W staff, but I'd like to at least be that kind of a fan.  You feel bad for the kicker from Bama that got all of that venom directed towards him, and it's embarrassing to witness this kind of vitriol from our fan base.  However, there are millions of fans that comprise Buckeye Nation and just a small fraction of one percent are these uncouth, fringe, mean-spirited types.  Unfortunately, they are the ones that get the attention and press that make the rest of us look bad.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

It was a big mistake.  He knows it.  We know it.  He played hard and was trying to make a play. He also made a lot of good plays that helped to keep moving the ball.  I can't say if those people who are tweeting him bad things are really fans of OSU, but regardless it is a pretty classless act. 
Philly, forget those thing man. Best of luck to you.  Still glad that you are a Buckeye!  Much luv for ya man. 
Go Bucks!!

idotter81's picture

I totally agree....and he knows it more than anyone.  I guarantee NO ONE on the planet wanted him to field that punt cleanly more than he did.  He gets to live with that very public mistake.  I have made plenty of mistakes over my lifetime but never in that kind of limelight, thank goodness.  Anyone has the audacity to bash this kid for making the mistake he did IN A FOOTBALL GAME (he didn't kill anyone, for God's sake) has less than no class and is an embarrassment to Buckeye fans (or sports fans in general for that matter).  
Part of the reason we had any chance in a game that we were getting totally outplayed in in the first place was because of other plays he DID make all night long.  He was the only WR who seemed to be able to get open at all and he caught everything that was thrown to him that was catchable on Friday night (except that obviously important punt).
Philly became the best, clutch receiver we have had the last 2 years and handled himself with class and did nothing but represent the team and OSU with class.  No off-the-field mess that others left us with and relatively little "look at me" chest pounding, etc. that seems so common for today's athletes (and that this old fart thinks is cocky showboating).  For all of that, I will always remember and appreciate Philly as a true Buckeye in this amazing 2 year run!

Toilrt Paper's picture

A good career. Worked hard to become a good receiver. Made many good/great plays the past 2 years. Forget about the fumble, those things happen. BUT in the last game of his career, he made the worst decision of his career. He couldn't be a team player in his last game of his career. He wanted to be an individual hero in the last game of his career. It was a 35 yard punt with a lot of hang time and he can't put his hand up in the air and wave it? That was all his team wanted. That was all his team needed. That was all the coaches were asking for..... nothing more.

cplunk's picture

One other thing worth pointing out- go back and look at the game ending interception. If Brax gets some air under that throw and moves it slightly to the left (which is where I think he intended, but with his hurt shoulder he was low, flat, and to the right all game), Philly Brown scores the game winning TD.
Philly has his guy and would have been gone.

741's picture

Hello voice of reason.

actionstanleyjackson's picture

As soon as I saw the punt with that hang time, I felt like it was trouble for philly

Stay golden, Ponyboy.

hansman's picture

He played better than anybody else on our team in that game.

gobucks96's picture

Playing in the big stage means you have a bright light on you. Muffing the punt was a huge mistake, one he should know better. That's why he is in the position he was put into. One bad mistake can out weigh a lot of "good" things he did. 
Love what he did for us most of the season, but getting critized come with the territory..

gobucks96's picture

thought he played great vs MSU..

BAR43's picture

Nothing against Brown. He has been a big surprise player for us this year and he had several good plays in this game, but it was a big mistake. I feel bad for the kid, but let's not sugar coat this. When your teenager wrecks the family car  you don't go and praise them for all the times they brought it home in one piece. Its unfortunate it happened, but none the less was one of, if not the biggest play of the game.

Earle's picture

I don't blame Philly.  He was out there doing his best and had a good game on offense.  I blame the coaches for putting him back there on punt returns.  He was shaky all year, and yes, I know he returned one for a TD.  The first rule for the punt returner is to secure the ball, and Philly was simply not great at that all year long, and it came around to bite the Buckeyes at the worst time.

Snarkies gonna snark. 

ABrown07's picture

I have to agree with you here. This game can't be put on one person's shoulders. We had plenty of chances to put the game away and just couldn't. This game just wasn't ours to win, a lot of mistakes were made and positive positions weren't capitalized on. The game is over, Braxton will be back and we have 2-3 years worth of incredible recruits about to wreak havoc on 2014. I personally can not wait until the season starts again to see how these kids have grown and developed.

I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people.

-Woody Hayes

vitaminB's picture

You expect a senior to realize that momentum had turned.  You expect a senior to take the fair catch there and get our offense back on the field.  He called for a fair catch on the previous punt with no one around him.  I'm sure he had it in his mind that no matter what he was going to try and make a play on what could be the last punt return of his career.  He made a bad decision, and you'd expect a senior to do the right thing there.  That's all.  Thank you for a great career Philly.

ScarletGray43157's picture

Should have taken a fair catch.  No need to try to make a play there.  Just catch the ball, or even get away from it and let it bounce.
Agreed with what VitaminB says above. 
Experience is only valuable if you use it.

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

southernbuckeye's picture

I agree, it's a team sport. In saying that... know your role. Know the situation.  Things are going our way, already going to have good field position, the punt was high and of average length. Fair Catch the punt! He was trying to make something happen, I understand. Trying to catch the punt, spin, and avoid the tacklers..... More than he needed to do.