BEREA — The singular focus came too late for receiver Corey Coleman.
After dropping a perfect throw from rookie DeShone Kizer that should’ve been a 29-yard touchdown Sunday following a great post route to get behind Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and safety Josh Shaw, Coleman returned to the sideline and couldn’t even hear his teammates’ words of encouragement.
“I had tunnel vision. I was so shook and shocked about that, because it’s not me,” he said Wednesday. “And it’s just like anyone does something out of the norm, you’re going to be like, ‘Oh, man, did I really just do that? Did that just happen?’”
The drop — the ball hit Coleman in the face mask — cost the Browns four points as they had to settle for a Zane Gonzalez field goal in an eventual 30-16 loss in Cincinnati. Coleman had caught a 44-yard go route earlier after making Kirkpatrick look silly with a move at the line and finished with three catches for 64 yards, but he couldn’t shake the pivotal drop that came with 5:17 left in the third quarter and the Browns trailing 23-6.
“It’s not acceptable at all. I take full responsibility for it,” Coleman said. “DeShone threw a great ball. I couldn’t ask for a better ball than that.
“Even the greats drop balls. It’s not an excuse. I have to make that play, and if you saw me on the sideline, it tore me down ’cause you don’t get that many opportunities to make plays like that. So when that happens, you’ve got to make it count.”
Coleman, the No. 15 pick in 2016, has played only 14 games in two years because he broke his right hand each season. He has 48 total catches for 619 yards and four touchdowns and is well aware golden opportunities for touchdowns are difficult to come by.
“I just knew it was a touchdown,” he said. “As soon as I came off the ball, I saw how the safety was playing. I got super excited. It happens, and I just can’t let it repeat and keep on lingering the next game, next game. I’ve got to clear it, go to the next play and he’s going to need me for another play.”
The “he” is Kizer, who has struggled with his accuracy all season — he ranks 35th of 36 qualifying quarterbacks with a 53 percent completion rate — and is still searching for his first NFL win.
“I told him, ‘I’m sorry. I apologize. Keep your head up. You keep on doing you. You’re having a great game. I’m going to make that play for you,’” Coleman said.
Kizer said he won’t let the drop affect his faith in Coleman.
“I told him that the only thing I wanted to say was in that same situation, I’m going to throw you the exact same ball and you’re going to make the play,” Kizer said.
Coach Hue Jackson appreciates Coleman taking the drop hard but wants him to … drop it.
“He has to let it go, too,” Jackson said. “The competitive side, I’m glad that he understands how important it was, but there are going to be more. It would be different if he wasn’t going to have any more opportunities to do that. The next opportunity that he gets, he has to make that play.”
Coleman has played two games since missing seven with the broken hand. He has nine catches in 18 targets for 144 yards.
“They got the ball to him right away. Obviously, they missed him,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “He can make plays. I guess now they have the Baylor connection.
“They’ve got both of them back. We look for those guys to continue to make plays and be explosive. We have to figure out a way to slow them down.”
The other half of the Baylor connection will attract the majority of the attention this week. Receiver Josh Gordon is scheduled to play Sunday for the first time in nearly three years after serving an indefinite drug suspension.
“He’s excited, man,” Coleman said. “That guy is unbelievable. We talk every day and he’s excited to be out there. You can feel the energy, the passion.”
The return of Gordon, an All-Pro in 2013, should shift some of the defense’s focus from Coleman.
“Definitely him being out there is going to benefit both of us,” Coleman said. “It’s going to be hard to double-team one guy, so we’ll go out there and see on Sunday.
“He can do great things. I’m just excited for him to get back and be on the other side of me.”
What can the Baylor connection do for the Browns?
“I hope bring the team a win,” Coleman said. “A spark with me and him both being out there, creating plays, catching the ball and getting open.”