We've seen QB Brandon Weeden be a goat of this offense for weeks now, but against the Kansas City Chiefs, one player will be in the crosshairs of criticism: WR Davone Bess.
The Browns look completely outmatched to start the first half, falling 13-0 to the Chiefs part-way through the second quarter. The offense went three-and-out during their first three possessions, and the Chiefs kept converting third down after after down. After a missed 52-yard field goal near the end of the first half, though, QB Jason Campbell and the Browns finally got a first down with a 19-yard pass to TE Jordan Cameron. Then, one flea flicker later, Campbell had a 39-yard touchdown pass to WR Josh Gordon to cut the Chiefs' lead to 13-7.
Kansas City quickly responded with a touchdown, but then the Browns added a field goal just before the half to make it 20-10 Chiefs. Cleveland got the ball to begin the second half, and Campbell engineered a touchdown drive with a 17-yard pass to RB Fozzy Whittaker. Just like that, it was 20-17 with a lot of time to play.
The Browns' defense opened the second half with a couple of three-and-outs. Cleveland's offense moved the ball a few more times, but had to punt near mid-field. One of those possessions saw WR Travis Benjamin suffer a knee injury on a punt return, something that would haunt Cleveland dearly the rest of the game.
In the fourth quarter, Campbell found Cameron for a 37-yard reception to move into Chiefs territory with the score still 20-17. On the next play, RB Willis McGahee had a big run, but it was called back after a very questionable holding penalty on Browns LT Joe Thomas. That set the Browns back and forced them to punt again, but this time, the punt ended up being downed so that Kansas City had to start at their own one yard line. The Browns forced a punt, and they were poised to get great field position.
That's when Bess happened. He muffed the short punt at the 45 yard line, inside of Chiefs territory, and Kansas City recovered. Ugh. With seven minutes to play in the game, things were starting to look gloomy. The Browns forced another punt, though, and got the ball back with four minutes to play and no timeouts.
Facing a 4th-and-7 from their own 31 yard line with two minutes to go in the game, Campbell rolled out to his right and didn't see anybody open. He looked across the grain and fired the ball. Entering the picture, trying to make a sliding catch, was Bess. He would have had just enough for a first down, but he dropped it. Deflating. Not including the muff, it was his 2-3 dropped pass of the game.
Kansas City was stopped again by Cleveland, and then kicked a field goal to make it 23-17. The Browns got the ball back with no timeouts at their own 20 yard line and 0:17 on the clock, so there was no chance. That's how the game ended. It was a great effort by the Browns, who came through in the second half defensively, but fell victim to Bess and some questionable calls by the officials when it came to holding.
Cleveland has dropped to 3-5, but the play of Campbell this week has to be commended. He was light years better than Brandon Weeden, and fans should have some optimism restored for their Week 9 battle at home with the Ravens next Sunday.