It was another "punch in the gut" game for Cleveland Browns fans. Despite being without CB Joe Haden and CB Dimitri Patterson, the Browns' defensive line looked fresh in the first half and held the Cowboys' offense to their lowest amount of yards in five years. While the defense pitched a shut out, RB Trent Richardson was getting runs in chunks, and Cleveland's offense did enough to score a touchdown and two field goals. It was a 13-0 Cleveland lead heading into the second half.
To their credit, the Dallas Cowboys appeared to make some nice adjustments on offense and defense in the second half. Unfortunately, the Browns really didn't have an answer, as Dallas ripped off 17 consecutive points to take a 17-13 lead mid-way through the fourth quarter.
The Browns went three-and-out on their next series, but then DE Frostee Rucker forced a fumble on Tony Romo that was recovered by LB Craig Robertson. Cleveland put together a good drive and got all the way to the one yard line. They needed a touchdown and had two downs to get it. On third down, Richardson's leap was denied at the line of scrimmage. On fourth down, Weeden's fade pass sailed out of the end zone.
With under two minutes to play, there was still hope because Dallas was backed up at the one yard line, and Cleveland had all three of their timeouts. The Browns' defense forced a punt, and Joshua Cribbs was horse collared on his return attempt. Cleveland started their drive 17 yards away from the end zone with just over a minute to play. On Brandon Weeden's first dropback, he connected with TE Benjamin Watson for a touchdown, giving Cleveland a 20-17 lead.
Dallas needed a field goal to tie the game, and, with the assistance of an officiating crew that was terrible all game long, they did just that. Dan Bailey's 32-yarder to end the fourth quarter sent the game to overtime.
Dallas won the toss in overtime, and by that time, Cleveland's secondary was even more banged up after Buster Skrine suffered a concussion. Dallas drove to near midfield, and then punted to pin the Browns back. Unable to pick up a first down, the Browns punted. Dallas only needed a couple of plays to get into field goal range, and Bailey's 38-yarder won it.
There are a lot of talking points we could make about this game, which I will get into throughout the week. The big bummer is that we lost another close game, something that has become the reputation of the 2012 Browns.