Even though they did not come away with a victory again, the defense had another pretty strong performance against the Arizona Cardinals in their 20-17 loss. Here is a list of five defensive plays that stood out to me from the Browns vs. Cardinals game, in the order in which they took place during the game.
1. Maiava Gets Into Rhythm: It was a much better game for linebacker Kaluka Maiava overall. One play that represented the type of game he had: on a 1st-and-10 on the first quarter, the Cardinals handed off to running back Beanie Wells. Maiava knifed through two blockers and while he was on the ground, he got enough of Wells to bring him down for a loss of one yard.
2. Sheard Blows By Right Tackle for Sack: In the second quarter on a 3rd-and-4, the Cardinals lined up in Shotgun formation. Sheard was lined up far to the outside edge, and when the ball was snapped to John Skelton, Sheard made one quick move to the inside. The right tackle was toast; Sheard was already on top of Skelton to register a sack for a loss of eight yards, forcing a punt.
3. Maiava Fights Through Again: On the Cardinals' opening drive of the second half, the Cardinals called a run play to the outside for Beanie Wells on 2nd-and-3. Maiava lined up on the same side as Sheard, and at the snap, Maiava engaged the blocker on the edge. As Wells was coming toward his direction, Maiava fought through the block and got a hold of Wells' arm, which was enough to allow his teammates to gangtackle the running back for a loss of three yards. The Cardinals failed on third down and had to punt.
4. Skrine Picks Skelton
to Seal Game: When rookie cornerback Buster Skrine got his first interception of the season, it was the type of play that almost assures you that your team is going to win the game. The Browns had just scored a touchdown on offense to go up 17-7, and the interception to get the ball right back heading into the fourth quarter seemed like a back breaker. I guess it wasn't meant to be, but Skrine's pick should have been the play that sealed the game.
5. Young, Gocong Blitz from the Same Side: I'm not a defensive guru, but the past few weeks, the Browns have been calling blitzes where Usama Young sneaks up to the line and comes unblocked. They did that again near the start of the fourth quarter, but this time there was a variation. Young came right away, and as soon as the blocker started to pick him up, Chris Gocong came on a delayed blitz. Skelton wasn't ready for it and had to take a sack for a loss of nine yards. (Unfortunately, Skelton hooked up with Fitzgerald for 23 yards on the following play, a 2nd-and-19).