I guess we can stop talking about the Cleveland Browns' stretch of beating defending Super Bowl Champions after their 41-27 loss to the New York Giants. Early on in the game, it certainly seemed like the Browns might pull off the upset. On the Giants' first offensive play of the game, RB Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled the football. It was recovered by CB Sheldon Brown, setting the Browns up with great field position.
Two plays later, RB Trent Richardson went unchallenged up the middle for a 15-yard touchdown run, giving Cleveland a 7-0 lead after less than a minute of action.
The Giants couldn't do anything on their second offensive possession, and Brandon Weeden kept the momentum up for Cleveland. He dropped back and heaved a bomb down the field for WR Josh Gordon, who beat LB Chase Blackburn in coverage for a 62-yard touchdown grab. The Browns were up 14-0 after less than five minutes of play.
It wasn't long before the Giants responded. If your team is facing Eli Manning, you better not miss on your opportunities in other aspects of the game. Manning took the Giants right down the field and threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to WR Victor Cruz, making it a 14-7 game.
The Browns added a field goal on their next possession, making it a 17-7 Cleveland lead. Unfortunately, the Giants then proceeded to go on a 27-0 run. The downturn spiral for the Browns started with just under four minutes to play in the second quarter. Cleveland was driving with a 17-10 lead and facing a 3rd-and-1 situation. The Browns decided to take Trent Richardson out of the play with a pass-formation look. Brandon Weeden rolled to his right and couldn't find anyone open. His errant pass was intercepted by S Stevie Brown and returned 46 yards, giving the Giants great field position. Two plays later, Ahmad Bradshaw punched into the end zone for a touchdown, tying the game at 17-17.
If that didn't kill Cleveland's momentum enough, Joshua Cribbs fumbling on the ensuing kickoff did.
Five plays later, Eli Manning connected with Victor Cruz for the second time, giving the Giants a 24-17 advantage. LB D'Qwell Jackson, the Browns' best defensive player, also sustained a concussion on the previous drop, and that really hurt the defense the rest of the game.The Giants had one more field goal before the end of the first half, making it a 27-17 game.
The Browns came out in the second half and moved the ball pretty well. They had to punt, but were able to pin the Giants back at the 5-yard line after a punt. That wasn't enough to stop Manning. He took the Giants 95 yards down the field, capped off with the hat trick touchdown connection to WR Victor Cruz. It was a blowout at that point, with the Giants up 34-17 and Cleveland showing no life defensively.
The Browns did show one more glimmer of hope after that. Joshua Cribbs returned a kickoff 74 yards, setting Cleveland up with great field position. They only managed a field goal, but it was a 34-20 game heading into the final quarter of play.
The Browns' defense finally forced a punt, and Cleveland was driving the ball down the field. After getting five yards away from the end zone on third down, this happened:
Unfortunately, you can't catch your own pass and then get a second pass. The five-yard penalty pushed the Browns back a little, and Brandon Weeden was intercepted by LB Chase Blackburn on the next play as he tried to force a pass into tight end Benjamin Watson. That was the final gasp for the Browns, sending them to 0-5 on the season. Each team added one more touchdown -- a 40-yard sprint by David Wilson for the Giants, and a 20-yard rocket to Josh Gordon from Brandon Weeden -- to close the game out at 41-27.
Besides Jackson, the Browns also suffered injuries to CB Dimitri Patterson and DT Ahtyba Rubin. That's one of the reasons that Bradshaw had a career day with 30 carries for 200 yards and 1 touchdown. He also had 4 catches for 29 yards. I guess that opening fumble didn't deter his confidence too much.
This is another tough loss for the Browns, especially with how well the Browns started. No matter who was responsible for the loss, Pat Shurmur is going to continue to come under fire. 0-5 is certainly not an acceptable start to a season, and neither is a 41-6 stretch by the opposition in a game where you were up 14-0.