Cherish this game for the rest of your lives, Browns fans. An NFL team has never rallied from a 25-point deficit on the road until the Browns did it against the Titans this past Sunday. Re-live all of the horrid and fun moments from the game in this week's super-sized film review!
WEEK 5 - CLEVELAND BROWNS VS. TENNESSEE TITANS
(COMPLETE GAME REVIEW)
- Awarding the Game Ball: QB Brian Hoyer - Hoyer is re-affirming his position as the team's starting quarterback more and more each week. Keep in mind that in terms of regular season experience, Hoyer is still a baby, and he's already shown to be this good. Imagine how dynamite he'll be when he gets WR Josh Gordon back. The Browns had a lot of heroes in the comeback, but Hoyer was the one who captained the ship, so he gets the game ball.
- Goat of the Game: ILB
- This was almost a bench-worthy game for Kirksey if you ask me. Not only did he deliver a cheap shot on QB Jake Locker, he missed tackles left and right that led to drives continuing.
- Whitner Not Making Plays: I've had an issue with Browns SS Donte Whitner not seeming to have any high impact plays through the first four games of the year, and the first play of the game against Tennessee was a prime example of that.
Whitner is in the cyan circle, and he is going to be playing man coverage on TE Delanie Walker who is doing a simple out route. The defender in the green circle is going to race over to guard No. 88 in the flat, while OLB Paul Kruger is going to rush from the edge.
QB Jake Locker steps back, and right here, Whitner's coverage doesn't appear bad. He tries to undercut the eventual throw from Locker, but the pass is on target.
Whitner not only fails to break up the pass, he let's Walker break out for a catch-and-run of 21 yards. I understand that these plays happen every so often, but Whitner was brought to Cleveland for his coverage skills. How many passes defended or key tackles after a reception do you recall him having through four games?
- Tate Patient With First Carry: After a failed screen pass on the Browns' first offensive play, they were faced with a 2nd-and-12, backed up in their own territory. How do you escape the predicament? Just hand the ball back to RB Ben Tate.
Tate has to be salivating pre-snap with how the Titans lined up for this play. Since the safety is playing far back, the Browns are going to have four blockers to the Titans' three rushers for this run play, which will form a huge hole (marked by the cyan outlines).
If Tate just bursts through the hole as fast as he can, he'll run right into the defensive backs who are coming up from the next level. Instead, he kind of does a hesitation move back into one of his offensive lineman. That draws the cornerback and safety to the inside, and then allows Tate to cut the run to the new, cleaner hole that forms to the outside.
A little stiff arm doesn't hurt either. On Tate's first carry since his Week 1 knee injury, he got 15 yards. He never looked back, finishing the game with 124 yards rushing on 22 carries (5.6 YPC). Cleveland does not get another first down on the possession, though, and is forced to punt.
- Unable to Contain the QB: While the defense came up with a stop on their opening drive, the second drive marked the beginning of a Browns' first half Achilles' heel -- trying to prevent the quarterback scramble.
Facing a 2nd-and-12, QB Jake Locker doesn't like what he sees in the pocket and begins to roll out. He starts running hard toward the line of scrimmage, denoted by the blue line at the 40. OLB Barkevious Mingo has a free shot at Locker. Here is where our defense got in trouble a lot against Locker: we're trying to make the most perfect play imaginable rather than settling for an acceptable play. Mingo sprints to where he believes Locker is going...
...so when Locker puts his foot in the ground to turn this upfield a little bit, Mingo loses any leverage he had to wrap Locker up.
Now, we see DE Phil Taylor sprinting to catch up with Locker. Mingo is able to get his arm around Locker a little here, which forces Locker to uncontrollably spin back toward the inside part of the field.
That inadvertent spin makes Taylor overrun Locker as well, and the fourth-year quarterback continues running for a 12-yard again and a first down. Had Mingo played it safe from the get go, maybe we could have settled for something like a four yard gain or a quarterback slide to set up something like a 3rd-and-8.
- A. Bryant Finally Flashes: The injury to DE Phil Taylor (out a few weeks after a knee scope) saw a significant uptick in playing time for DE Armonty Bryant, and he delivered an impressive performance for the first time since the preseason.
Facing a 1st-and-10, the Titans are going to fake the run and then throw a quick hitter to WR Kendall Wright in the slot at the top of the screen. The Titans will leak the left tackle out to block a defender, leaving Bryant uncovered. The idea is that the play happens quick enough to negate any chance Bryant would have of getting to Wright.
Instead, Bryant recognizes the play right away and sprints out into the flat. He doesn't tackle Wright right away, but he slows him down and then makes the tackle from behind after a one-yard gain.
- Staying Calm With Joe Haden: I thought it was a decent, albeit quiet game for CB Joe Haden. He did catch some backlash for an early pass interference call, which I take a look at below.
Facing a 3rd-and-9 in a 0-0 game, Haden is playing man coverage on WR Justin Hunter at the bottom of the screen. Hunter is running a deep out route. Cleveland loads up everybody at the line of scrimmage, so pre-snap, it's tough to tell who will be coming and who will be dropping back.
The Browns are bringing the pressure from the left side of QB Jake Locker. We brought CB K'Waun Williams on the blitz a handful of times throughout the game, and this is was one of them.
When Locker drops back, he is looking to throw to his right. The coverage is solid from both defenders; Haden and Hunter are the pair at the 30 yard line.
Here is the first issue: when Locker bails and goes to his left, Haden should be out of the equation and the pressure should get to Locker. Instead, OLB Paul Kruger gets blocked too far upfield and right past Locker, and the other defenders overcommit to Locker's left. This allows Locker to step up and magically weave his way back to the right side of the field.
Haden still maintains his coverage. Although he kind of reaches out for one of those slight "touchy" things that he is known for here, that is actually fine since the quarterback is outside the pocket.
This is one of those "no way in a million years he catches the ball" plays because it's way over Hunter's head and way out of bounds. To make matters worse, Haden doesn't even commit pass interference. The combination of the referees perspective and seeing Hunter flail for the ball while Haden's head wasn't turned around draws the rather ridiculous penalty and keeps the drive going.
- Too Much Space Leads to TD: It seems like the Browns' defense has been breaking a bit too much in the face of adversity -- one bad play leads to a chain of more bad plays; it's contagious.
Three plays after CB Joe Haden's penalty, the Titans are facing a 3rd-and-3. The blue line represents where the Titans need to go for a first down. CB K'Waun Williams is circled in green. WR Kendall Wright is running a peel out from the slot.
This is just a matter of there being too much space between the defender and the receiver to make a play. At a minimum, this is probably going to allow Wright to pick up a first down with a good throw.
If the throw is to Wright's outside and he continues running that way, perhaps Williams can make a full momentum, charging tackle right at the sticks. However, Wright immediately plants his foot in the ground and cuts back to the inside (a nice move on his part), leaving Williams with no chance. The Titans take a 7-0 lead.
- Jet Sweep Burns Browns Again: The Saints ran a very similar play to this with WR Brandin Cooks in Week 2, and it went for 28 yards. This time, the Titans ran their version of the jet sweep with WR Kendall Wright and it got them 38 yards. Yikes! Who is going to try it next, Antonio Brown?
At the snap, Wright will get the quick hand off from QB Jake Locker and turn the edge with two blocks. Because of Wright's momentum and the timing of the play, DE Armonty Bryant doesn't have a chance to stop him despite his effort. The Browns' inside linebackers hesitate to their left at first at the snap. I circled CB K'Waun Williams in cyan because as Wright is motioning, Williams begins to follow him, but stops before he gets to the inside linebackers. By not having a defender shift all the way over, the Titans have the advantage in the numbers game.
Alright, let's give the Titans credit for a well-executed play. At this point, it should be about an 18-yard gain or so, since we have SS Donte Whitner and ILB Chris Kirksey ready to close in on Wright.
...except Whitner is off balance and can't make a play, and Kirksey completely botches the tackle here. Wright breaks free and gets an additional 20 yards.
- Blitz Doesn't Work on Locker's TD Run: Seven plays later, QB Jake Locker scores on a touchdown run from 11 yards out on 3rd-and-2.
The Browns are once again going to send CB K'Waun Williams off the edge. However, Williams is going to really try to go up the field in an effort to use his speed to get around the block of the left tackle. With DE Armonty Bryant making a move to the inside, that leaves a pretty wide open lane (in the green) for Locker to get the first down at a minimum.
Williams stood no chance of getting around the left tackle. Locker steps up, and with our inside linebackers dropping deep in zone coverage, he can get all the way to the end zone.
The more I look at the hit that ILB Chris Kirksey delivered, the more I say that it was a dirty play. There is a good amount of seperation between the two in the screenshot above, and with how deep Kirksey is in the end zone, any hit you try to deliver will result in a penalty, regardless of whether it was a blow to the head or not.
You only attempt a hit like this if a receiver is catching a pass and could possibly drop it. I'm not saying that Kirksey is on pace to be the next James Harrison or anything; I'm sure this was a heat of the moment play that he immediately regretted. The play did spark high tension for the rest of the game, though, and that tension actually contributed to the Browns' comeback. At this point, the Browns were down 14-0.
- Patching Up the Field Goal Protection: The Browns got in field goal range on their next drive. Although a touchdown was desirable given the score, Cleveland needed something on the board to try to stop the bleeding, so they sent out K Billy Cundiff.
First, let's remind ourselves of the blocked kick against the Ravens, as both kicks take place at very similar spots on the field. The formation above is the one in which the kick was blocked. Notice that DE Billy Winn on the far right is lined up with his left foot almost directly behind the left foot of OL John Greco (No. 75). This prevents an inside rush, but makes you susceptible to a nice outside jump.
Here is the lineup against the Titans -- an adjustment, perhaps. Winn is protecting the outside a bit more, and you can see the difference of where his feet are positioned. Now, Winn's left foot is basically lined up with Greco's right foot. The kick is good, and the Browns trim the lead to 14-3.
- Not Making the Easy Defensive Plays: This play will be another ding on ILB Chris Kirksey.
Down 14-3, the Titans are a 3rd-and-10 from the 36 yard line. A stop will set up the Titans for a long field goal attempt. Cleveland brings probably the most pressure they've brought all game -- a six-man blitz. Titans QB Jake Locker immediately throws the ball out to the flat to WR Justin Hunter.
There is a lot of space between Hunter and CB Joe Haden. Haden understands the situation, though -- he knows he just needs to prevent a first down; he doesn't zoom up to Hunter to try to make some hero play. Haden forces Hunter back to the inside, where he knows he should have some help.
There is Kirksey. Hunter can take one of two paths -- either the yellow, which should be right at Kirksey, or the green, which would be right into Haden. The problem is that Kirksey doesn't show the same patience that Haden did. Kirksey zooms toward the green path and will collide with Haden when Hunter takes the green path.
There is the collision. Hunter picks up 12 yards and a first down. Three plays later, CB Buster Skrine comes on a blitz and is called for roughing the passer. The play also knocks Locker out of the game after his thumb hits Skrine's helmet.
- Secondary Mix-Up? It's time for QB Charlie Whitehurst. Surely this 9-year veteran with very little NFL regular season experience won't beat us, right?
WR Kendall Wright is in the slot running a simple flag route. SS Donte Whitner drops back into the area of the outside receiver. CB Buster Skrine drops back but seems to be favoring the inside. CB Joe Haden seems to be protecting the outside.
Here's what I'm not certain of -- is Haden worried about the outside receiver doing a break back to the outside, or is he "daring" Whitehurst to throw it over his head to the inside receiver, as the announcers of the game suggested? Skrine doesn't play close coverage on this play, and Whitehurst finds Wright rather wide open for the score, making it a 21-3 game. rufio, can you weigh in on this play?
- Skrine Too Aggressive vs. Whitehurst, Leads to TD: As if being down 21-3 wasn't demoralizing enough, I continued to believe, "maybe we can get back into this game because of Whitehurst being in there," only to see him throw a 75-yard touchdown on his very next offensive play.
CB Buster Skrine is the victim again. WR Justin Hunter is going to run an out-and-up.
I don't know what the heck Skrine was thinking on this play. The fake from Hunter isn't that great; it's one of those fake head turn type of things. On top of that, Whitehurst doesn't even deliver a pump fake, yet Skrine starts bursting toward the sideline as if he knows a pick six is likely. That's not the thing to try when you don't have any safety help.
Hunter has Skrine burned now. Skrine looks closer than he really is here; the separation will soon grow larger because Skrine is turning around and has to re-establish his momentum. Whitehurst entered the league in 2006. In 9 NFL seasons, he had thrown a total of 4 touchdown passes heading into our game. Then, just like that, Whitehurst threw touchdowns on back-to-back passes. If you're talking about an emotional low as a Browns fan, this was it, down 28-3.
- Hoyer Answers -- Throwing to the Spot: Despite being down 28-3, deep down inside, I still had that blind faith that maybe, just maybe, we could come back because of QB Brian Hoyer and having an offensive coordinator (Kyle Shanahan) who actually understands that the only way a team can come back in a game is if they attempt a fast-paced, but balanced offense. It didn't matter that no team in NFL history has ever come back on the road from a 25-point deficit -- I still had hope (probably because of our Week 1 comeback against Pittsburgh).
The first play of the drive was a big one. QB Brian Hoyer is about to get drilled here from the blind side, and WR Travis Benjamin is not out of his break yet. Hoyer's quarterback clock is good, though, and he knows where to throw to the spot if his chemistry with the receiver is good.
Hoyer gets planted just as he releases the ball, and the pass is right on the money for a 21-yard gain to Benjamin.
- Back Shoulder Connection to Austin: On the first play after the two-minute warning, WR Miles Austin and QB Brian Hoyer connect for one heck of a play.
Austin is running the route shown at the top of the screen. The cornerback is protecting the inside, so Austin is going to have a good amount of room on the sideline to work with.
I believe Chuck Booms of 92.3 the Fan was one of the people who criticized Hoyer for this throw, to which I laugh and say, "are you kidding me?" First off, this is a perfect back shoulder throw, something we've been deprived of from NFL quarterbacks in Cleveland.
One complaint I heard was that Austin had to "pick that poor pass off the ground." Yes, give credit to Austin for making a nice catch, but also remember that in the previous frame, the defender had just been flagged for pass interference. Without the interference, Austin makes a much cleaner catch. All-around, it's a great play for the Browns, going for 31 yards.
- Run Game Sets Up First TD: After several run plays, the Browns faced a 2nd-and-goal from the 1 yard line.
The playaction fake draws everybody up for the run, and TE Jim Dray releases wide open into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown after initially blocking, trimming the Titans' lead to 28-10.
- Hoyer Throws a Good Deep Ball: The Browns got the ball first to begin the third quarter and came out aggressive.
We saw QB Brian Hoyer face a lot of pressure on some of his bootlegs, but not this one. WR Taylor Gabriel is running his route at the bottom of the screen.
CB Jason McCourtey is defending Gabriel, but he never looks to the cornerback. Gabriel does a quick step toward the sideline...
...and then streaks up the field, which gives him a little bit of separation. Hoyer throws the ball about 55-60 yards right into the arms of Gabriel. For all the criticism that Hoyer has faced on his deep balls, he's been pretty on point with them. Even the deep one earlier in double coverage was almost completed when you look at the replays (I did not cover that one in this post).
Cleveland eventually settles for a field goal, but at 28-13, it's now a two-possession game just part-way through the third quarter (13:00 remaining).
- Punt Out of Bounds a Legit Call: We're going to do a bit of a time jump now to 1:48 remaining in the third quarter. The Titans punted, then the Browns could not convert on third- or fourth-down in field goal range, and now the Titans are punting again.
WR Travis Benjamin muffed the punt and the Titans recovered. At that point, any hope I had left was completely drained. It stayed drained for about two minutes, when the official started explaining, "...player running out of bounds..." As soon as I heard that, I thought to myself, "holy crap, that means we're getting the ball back, right!?!", which was confirmed moments later.
If you look at the screenshot above, this was a legitimate call. The Titans' gunner, Michael Huff, blocks our defender to the ground out of bounds. He needs to attempt to immediately get back in bounds, probably with five yards of lee-way. Instead, on his own accord, he stays about of bounds for 20 yards before coming back into the field of play. The Browns are fortunate because this had nothing to do with Benjamin muffing the punt, but it is the right call.
- Batted Down at the Goal Line: Near the beginning of the fourth quarter, still down 28-13, the Browns faced a near must-score situation (note: had it been a 14-point game, it wouldn't have been as critical).
On 4th-and-goal from the 4 yard line, TE Jordan Cameron is running across the field. With the Titans in zone coverage, the area in the green becomes the soft spot in the zone.
From the screenshot above, you could make the case that the ball should have been out here and it could have avoided the defensive line. Keep in mind, though, that the traffic had just cleared fractions of a second earlier, so this is not the easiest thing to anticipate.
QB Brian Hoyer tries a quick pump fake, which gets No. 94 to put his arms up. However, when Hoyer delivers the ball, it still catches the lineman's arm as his arm is on the way down, forcing a turnover on downs.
- Greene Does Browns a Favor: With the Titans backed up at their own 4 yard line, I thought to myself, "the only way we can win this game is if we get a safety."
On the first play, the Titans hand the ball off to RB Shonn Greene. Greene does the Browns a favor with his best imitation of RB Trent Richardson's lack of vision. A pretty good hole opens on the right...
...yet Greene buries his head into the traffic jam for no gain.
- Run Defense Makes a Play: On the next play, the run defense makes a nice stop on RB Shonn Greene.
On 2nd-and-10, the Titans have first-round OT Taylor Lewan in the game as an extra blocker (No. 77), and TE Chase Coffman (No. 86) if next to him.
ILB Craig Robertson beats Lewan with an inside move before the ball even gets handed off, and OLB Paul Kruger easily gets by the tight end too. Greene picks up a yard, but this play was dead from the get-go. The Titans can't convert on third down and are forced to punt.
- Safety Saves the Day: It's so rare that the Browns get a punt block, so it's a joy to be able to cover it in a game review. On top of that, the Browns got a safety. Here is how rare both events are:
That was the @Browns first blocked punt since Nov. 30, 2003 (at Seattle) and first safety since Nov. 22, 2009 (at Detroit)— Dan Murphy (@DMurph_BrownsPR) October 5, 2014
The Titans' personal protector on this play is No. 21, S George Wilson. Tennessee seems concerned with blocking the edge guys, so that's what everybody up front does, which leaves Cleveland's two inside rushers -- S Jim Leonhard (on the left) and ILB Tank Carder (on the right).
At the snap, the protector shifts to block Leonhard, and the long snapper tries to take on Carder. You can see that Carder has his guy beat; in an ideal scenario (for Tennessee), No. 56 probably could have chipped Carder to give the long snapper a second to get in better position to block Carder.
The punter also kind of takes his good old time to get this one off, despite being backed up in his own territory.
Even with the good rush from Carder, the punter still has to happen to angle is punt your direction. Fortunately for the Browns, he does, and the ball bounces out of the back of the end zone for a safety. My feeling is that a safety was actually better for the Browns than a defensive touchdown at this juncture of the game. The safety made it a 13 point game and we got the ball back, meaning we could chop the lead to 6 with a score without wasting a bunch of clock. Had we gotten the touchdown, we'd either be down by 7 or 8, but would be kicking the ball off to the Titans, who perhaps could eat up clock or put a scoring drive together.
- Chaotic INT Negated & A Titan Ejection: This was one crazy play. On 2nd-and-9 from midfield, all hell broke loose.
WR Miles Austin is in the slot to the bottom of the screen, and WR Andrew Hawkins is on the outside.
QB Brian Hoyer seems to be eyeing WR Andrew Hawkins. Their chemistry was off all game for the first time this regular season, and it showed up on this play too. While Hawkins was stationary, Hoyer threw the ball as if Hawkins would cut toward the green path. Instead, Hawkins was moving the opposite direction (yellow). Now look at the yellow circle -- Austin has a ton of room on the outside, and CB Jason McCourty is eying the quarterback.
Later on, we hear that a flag for illegal contact is called on CB Brandon Harris, who is the guy covering Hawkins. That can't be possible because Harris doesn't even come close to touching anybody on the play. My assumption is that the flag is really on McCourtey, and the officials just announced it wrong due to the ensuing chaos of the play. Is McCourtey committing illegal contact on the play? It's impossible to tell from this angle or on the TV broadcast, but it's logical to think that McCourtey might grab on to Austin a bit given the space on the outside.
McCourtey is the guy who ends up with the interception. He is already running the return here, and you can see the flag being thrown in from the back judge. That official had the best (albeit far) view of Austin/McCourtey, so that confirms even more that the illegal contact was called on him.
Now then, why was there an ejection on this play? First, a side note -- props to RB Isaiah Crowell, who did TE Ben Watson proud by staying with the play and knocking McCourtey out at the 1 yard line. Second, look at the yellow circle. WR Miles Austin is bracing himself for a shot from a Titans' lineman. Austin actually flattens what looks to be DE Jurrell Casey.
Then, from behind, Austin takes a cheap shot in the back from S Bernard Pollard.
In the screenshot above, the green circle shows Austin on the ground with Pollard going at it with him. My guess is that LT Joe Thomas saw the incident and tempers flared, as he is wrestling with OLB Shaun Phillips in the cyan circle. LG Joel Bitonio is also taking a face full from a Titans defender.
Why did OLB Derrick Morgan get ejected? It wasn't anything vicious what he did, but here is my guess. Morgan is the guy charging Thomas (yellow arrow). He basically dives to push Thomas off of Phillips. I am going to speculate that because the official was trying to physically seperate Thomas and Phillips, he did not appreciate another player risking his health (he may have even brushed the official while charging at Thomas). I think that is why Morgan was ejected.
- Hoyer & Benjamin Keep Play Alive for TD: Cleveland kept possession due to the illegal contact and they made the Titans pay.
The Browns have WR Travis Benjamin at the bottom of the screen. He's supposed to be running a first-down crossing route, but eventually improvises once he sees QB Brian Hoyer in trouble.
After the playfake, Hoyer sees a defender pursuing him. This time, Hoyer keeps dropping back, almost baiting the defender to overpursue so he can have a lot of room to step up. In the screenshot above, Hoyer is 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Once Hoyer steps up, Benjamin recognizes this and cuts back to the middle.
This couldn't have worked out better for the Browns. The threat of the run game meant no additional safety help in the middle of the field, and Hoyer gets the throw off in time to make it a 28-22 game with just under 7 minutes to play.
- Stopping Whitehurst on 4th-and-short: After a Titans three-and-out followed by the Browns' first turnover of the season (an interception that basically served as a punt), the Titans picked up one first down. They thought they converted another, but a challenge by the Browns showed that the Titans were about half a yard shy of a first down (bad job by TE Delanie Walker, who should have stretched the football forward before going out of bounds).
Now, the Titans were faced with a 4th-and-short situation, and they lined up to go for it in their own territory. This shows no faith in their defense, although I thought they were just going to try to draw the Browns offsides with the hard count initially. Instead, they quick snap it as soon as QB Charlie Whitehurst goes under center. Our two inside linemen crash the middle immediately, creating a standstill pile. OLB Paul Kruger is going to race around the edge.
Nothing is doing for Whitehurst up the middle, and here comes Kruger. Whitehurst will try rolling to the gap in the left...
...but when Kruger gets there, and latches on to Whitehurst from behind and holds on for dear life as his teammates keep pushing the Titans back. Denied! The Browns are now just 42 yards away from a historic comeback.
- Awe-Inspiring Play: After a 2-yard carry, the Browns faced a 2nd-and-8 from the 40 yard line with 2:24 to go.
Come on, Browns fans -- when you watched this play live, you had to be loving it. For wrestling fans out there, this would be the equivalent of hearing a "this is awesome" chant in your head. WR Miles Austin is at the top of the screen running a shallow post route. Hoyer looks toward Austin at the snap, but then turns his head to the left, where Cleveland has a potential WR screen pass set up. Hoyer pats the ball while looking that way, and then instinctively looks back over the middle and lets the ball loose to Austin.
Bang. Great throw, great catch, and Austin picks up 23 yards to get down to the 17 yard line. We're actually going to win this thing, aren't we?
- Game-Winner to Benjamin: Yep.
WR Travis Benjamin lines up in the slot to QB Brian Hoyer's left. RB Ben Tate was motioned to out to the far left. Benjamin is actually going to be running a very similar route as he did on his first touchdown, albeit with much less room to work with, and this time the play is designed to work out this way.
Hoyer spots the two defenders in the middle of the field are staying in the middle of the field. That means when Benjamin works his way back to the left corner of the field, nobody can stop him.
This seems like kind of a bad decision by the Titans to have OLB Shaun Phillips be the guy guarding Benjamin. Phillips commits a holding penalty on Benjamin, but it's not enough to disrupt the play. Hoyer already has the ball out of his hand in the screenshot above.
Perfectly placed again, and the Browns have a 29-28 lead after the extra point.
- Williams Finally Gets the Sack: We've already seen two teams kick game-winning field goals against us this year...surely it wouldn't happen a third time, right?
This play certainly helped. The Titans had one timeout left, and they needed that timeout if they were to get into field goal range. Facing a 1st-and-10 from their own 43 yard line with 0:24 to go, the Browns dialed up the blitz with CB K'Waun Williams again. This time, it worked. The five numbered players on the Browns are the guys who originally were at the line of scrimmage.
ILB Karlos Dansby and OLB Paul Kruger backed off into coverage, leaving four Titans players (three linemen and one running back) defending one guy. The Browns had Williams line up deeper, so him coming was more of a surprise, and he darted through the gap shown to sack QB Charlie Whitehurst and force the Titans to burn their final timeout.
- Protect the Boundary: On 3rd-and-16 from their own 37 yard line with 0:09 to go and no timeouts, the Browns' objective was simple: no pass interference, and don't allow a 30-yard completion that goes out of bounds.
Cleveland plays to protect the boundary, and as soon as QB Charlie Whitehurst hits WR Kendall Wright for a 16-yard gain, CB K'Waun Williams is there to blast him. Ballgame.
- Special Teams Tackles: There were 5 special teams tackles, with 1 each from ILB Chris Kirksey, ILB Tank Carder, S Jordan Poyer, S Johnson Bademosi, and LS Christian Yount.
- Snap Counts on Offense & Defense: If you missed them, here are the links to our snap count trackers for offense (link) and defense (link). On offense, both backup running backs, RB Terrance West and RB Isaiah Crowell, still got in on the action. On defense, CB K'Waun Williams took over the nickel role as CB Justin Gilbert fell out of favor.
- Brownies: The Browns were 4-of-12 (33%) on third down. ... The Titans were 8-of-14 (57%) on third down. ... Titans running backs averaged just 3.4 YPC, which is probably why they were hesitant to run the ball late in the game. ... Cleveland was outgained 284 yards to 182 yards in the first half. ... The Browns outgained the Titans 278 yards to 126 yards in the second half. ... Despite the Browns being behind so early, they stayed balanced with 38 pass plays and 36 run plays. ... FB Ray Agnew got his first reception of the season. ... Who cares if QB Johnny Manziel was laughing on the sideline with QB Connor Shaw?
Up next, the Browns take on the Pittsburgh Steelers at home. Keep it tuned to Dawgs By Nature for our coverage leading up to the game!