GLENDALE, Ariz. – A difficult week came to a frustrating end for the Cleveland Browns, and a bad season got worse.
The Browns blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and were beaten in overtime by the Arizona Cardinals 20-17 on Sunday.
Cleveland (4-10) has lost four straight and seven out of eight.
The theme was the same — playing close but coming up short.
"It always happens," Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden said. "We just have to figure out a way to get it fixed."
Colt McCoy didn't even make the trip to Arizona after sustaining a concussion on a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit from the Steelers' James Harrison. McCoy, as has been well documented, returned to the game a short time later after no concussion test was administered.
Later, he began showing symptoms and didn't practice last week.
Seneca Wallace stepped in for his first start of the season and promptly drove the team downfield for a touchdown after the opening kickoff.
He had Cleveland up 10-0 until the final 19 seconds of the first half.
When he connected with Greg Little for a 76-yard touchdown — the Browns' longest play in four seasons — Cleveland led 17-7 with 3:01 left in the third quarter.
Wallace was 18 of 31 for 226 yards.
"We had them on their heels and when it gets to that point, it is about not making mistakes," Wallace said, "not turning the ball over and giving them some easy points, and making plays. They played well on defense and made some plays. I need to help us out a lot more and make some more plays for our team."
Coach Pat Shurmur was asked if he would stay with Wallace, regardless of McCoy's status.
"It's too early to tell," Shurmur said. "That decision is made when you've got both guys healthy."
Arizona (7-7) became the ninth team in NFL history to win three overtime games in a season and just the second to win all three at home.
"We have a flair for dramatics," Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "Today was kind of typical Cardinals fashion."
Little caught five passes for a career-best 131 yards for Cleveland.
A healthy Peyton Hillis gained a season-high 99 yards on 26 carries for Cleveland.
Arizona's offense, so slow to start even through the team's recent success, scored the final 13 points of the game.
John Skelton completed 5 of 7 for 82 yards in the 11-play, 87-yard drive that culminated in Beanie Wells' 1-yard touchdown run that cut the lead to 17-14 with 8:33 remaining in regulation.
A holding penalty on Cleveland's subsequent kickoff return pinned the Browns at their 10 and O'Brien Schofield got Arizona's first sack of the day on the elusive Wallace to push Cleveland back to its 5.
Schofield got through on the next play as well, grabbing Wallace by an ankle and spinning him to the ground as the quarterback lost the ball.
Initially, Wallace was ruled down on the play, but coach Ken Whisenhunt challenged and the call was reversed.
Replays showed the ball coming loose well before Wallace fell backward onto the turf. The Cardinals took over at the Cleveland 5 needing only to punch it in to take the lead.
But Jabaal Sheard got his second sack, and Cleveland's fourth of the game and Arizona settled for Jay Feely's 33-yard field goal that tied it at 17 with 5:40 to play.
Cleveland won the coin toss to get the ball first in overtime, but the Browns managed only one first down before having to punt. Brad Maynard had artfully kicked the ball away from Patrick Peterson, the spectacular rookie whose four punt returns for scores have tied an NFL record.
"I thought we did a very nice job, even on that last punt," Shurmur said. "We had a guy down in his face and you know we were trying to kick the ball out of bounds or try to pin him down there and the guy in his face thought he saw the fair catch."
He doesn't know Peterson very well, then. The rookie disdains the fair catch, especially with the game on the line.
He fielded it near his left sideline and ran across the field before making a run for it near the right sideline. He took it to the Cleveland 40 and, two plays later, Skelton found Fitzgerald, more open than he'd been all day, far downfield.
Notes: Little's TD catch was his 55th reception of the season, surpassing Eric Metcalf for second-most by a Browns rookie. Kevin Johnson has the team's rookie record with 66 in 1999. ... Cleveland lost three players — LB Titus Brown (knee), WR Jordan Norwood (concussion) and LB Ben Jacobs (concussion).