The Cleveland Browns are moving on. After another lackluster game from QB Brian Hoyer, especially after the defense played out of this world, a loss was an unacceptable result that has left no margin for error in the team's aspirations of still making the postseason. Let's get to my complete game review to see how the defense executed their big plays and what opportunities the offense missed this past Sunday.
WEEK 14 - INDIANAPOLIS COLTS VS. CLEVELAND BROWNS
(COMPLETE GAME REVIEW)
- Goat of the Game: QB Brian Hoyer - Once again, it's not all on Hoyer...but a lot of it is. The cardinal sin was the red zone interception in the first quarter, and the other two throws that really stood out in a negative light were the deep overthrows. Hoyer might be done as the starter for now, but don't be surprised if we see him again before the end of the year. You never know what type of hit might take QB Johnny Manziel out.
- Awarding the Game Ball: WR Marlon Moore - For the record, the entire defense deserved a game ball for their effort, but I want to highlight the special teams unit too. Moore returned from injury and was lights out as a gunner against one of the best special teams units in the NFL. His thud on WR Joshua Cribbs in the fourth quarter caused a fumble, which the Colts unfortunately recovered.
- Gordon's Chemistry: The chemistry between QB Brian Hoyer and WR Josh Gordon over the past two weeks appeared to play a significant role in his downfall. Some of it was on Hoyer, while some of it was on Gordon.
The chemistry factor came into play on the duo's first series of the game. Gordon is the far right receiver in the trips bunch to the right of Hoyer. He'll be running a dig route to the middle of the field.
Gordon basically stops when he comes out of his break, but Hoyer throws the ball to the green spot, anticipating that he will keep coming. Who is at fault? It's easy to blame Gordon, but maybe Gordon thought he was making a good adjustment if Hoyer just pulled the trigger the second he made his break. This 3rd-and-7 incompletion on the team's first offensive series led to a punt.
- Trying to Move the Safety: After the Browns' defense forced a three-and-out, Colts P Pat McAfee had a rare shank for a punt, setting Cleveland up with good field position at midfield.
Facing a 3rd-and-4, WR Andrew Hawkins is lined up in the slot to the right of QB Brian Hoyer. He will fade out at first before breaking back in on a post route of sorts.
Linebackers are dropping into these routes more often after seeing what Cleveland likes to run. Initially, I think Hoyer believes he can hit Hawkins, but when he sees the linebacker, his throwing motion results in the ball going way over the heads of everybody for an incompletion. It's a little too late for Hoyer now, but I wonder why we didn't see the pump fake from him more often. A pump fake here would move the safety in center field up, and then he'd have a favorable one-on-one matchup down the left seam to TE Jordan Cameron. Instead, Cleveland punts back to the Colts.
- Defense Bringing Pressure Everywhere: The Browns were credited with 12 quarterback hits in the NFL Gamebook on QB Andrew Luck. They gave him a beating and the pressure was spread among several players.
This is a 1st-and-10 play from the 20 yard line. The Browns are going to bring a six-man rush. The Colts have six blockers and will initially pick everybody up.
As was often the case on Sunday, we saw our defenders win a lot of one-on-one matchups against the Colts' offensive line, which is something we're not accustom to. Pre-snap, it looked like ILB Craig Robertson (cyan circle) might come free on his blitz. In actuality, it is DL Ahtyba Rubin who busts through and hits Luck as he throws (an incomplete pass). The Colts went three-and-out and WR Travis Benjamin returned the ensuing punt 37 yards, giving Cleveland great field position again.
- The Luxury of Jordan Cameron: Facing a 2nd-and-10 from the 46 yard line, QB Brian Hoyer had to make some people feel good with a 20-yard completion to TE Jordan Cameron.
The Browns gave the Colts a little bit of a different look here by motioning Cameron into the backfield at the fullback position. He'll be covered by a linebacker down the field, which gives Cameron an advantage in open space.
Cameron has space to work with and Hoyer has a clean pocket. The playaction fake kept all of the other defenders on the other side of the field, so there aren't any double teams for Hoyer to be worried about here.
It's a good throw and Cameron hauls it in -- a refreshing sight to see our athletic tight end back on the field. He is in a contract year, though, so you never know how many more games we'll actually see from him in a Browns uniform.
- The Downside of Jordan Cameron: As if it's not frustrating having miscommunications with one receivers, how about with two receivers?
Facing a 2nd-and-6 from the 9 yard line, TE Jordan Cameron is lined up at the bottom of the screen with TE Jim Dray tight to the left of QB Brian Hoyer. Dray is running up the seam and the slot receiver is running the fade. The play is designed for Cameron to take the magenta path -- the other routes should create traffic in man coverage, allowing Cameron to have a catch-and-run for a first down or a touchdown. Instead, Cameron runs his route along the green path.
As you can see, Cameron is running in front of both the slot receiver and Dray, when he should've been behind everybody for the underneath route. It results in a traffic jam.
Hoyer blamed Cameron for running the wrong route after the game, to which I thought to myself, "if he didn't run the right route, then why the hell did you still throw it?" Cameron should be in the green spot, but he's in the yellow area and Hoyer can clearly see that. Then, I looked at Dray and thought that Hoyer probably tried to squeeze this one in to Dray as he cut up the seam. It's actually not the worst idea, especially when the linebacker covering Dray isn't looking at this point in time.
The linebacker snaps his head around at the right time and deflects the pass. Because Cameron has congested the area, his man, S Mike Adams, happens to be there to catch the deflection before it hits the ground.
- Kruger's Savvy Strip Leads to TD: After both teams traded three-and-outs, the Browns punted to the Colts and pinned them back to the ten yard line. I thought we were going to head into the second quarter with the score 0-0, but I was dead wrong.
This was a 3rd-and-10 play with under a minute remaining in the first quarter. Cleveland is going to bring pressure again -- a six-man blitz, including both of their starting safeties.
The heavy rush sees DL Desmond Bryant beat his man right up the middle. OLB Paul Kruger will also beat his man by going wide on him.
QB Andrew Luck is the type of quarterback who is always looking to push the ball downfield. He doesn't want to check down and settle for a dumpoff on 3rd-and-long -- he wants to stand strong in the pocket as long as he can to see if something develops.
Bryant gets to Luck first, but he thinks he can still get a pass off. The Browns defenders probably scouted this ahead of time (Luck tries to keep a play alive like Ben Roethlisberger), so Kruger pokes the ball out of his hand and into the end zone. ILB Craig Robertson is the lucky Browns defender to jump on it, giving Cleveland a 7-0 lead.
Credit goes to the coverage units as well. Here is how things looked prior to Bryant hitting Luck. There are three one-on-one matchups at the first down marker, but everyone is tightly covered and Luck didn't want to settle for the tight end underneath.
- Challenging the Receivers: Naturally, I expect a guy like QB Andrew Luck to respond to adversity with an immediate score, which made it all-the-more impressive that Cleveland's defense made the Colts go three-and-out on their next series.
The entire secondary challenged receivers all game long -- a more aggressive approach than we've seen all season. Above, the Colts faced a 3rd-and-3 on the final play of the first quarter. TE Coby Fleener was running a delayed slant back to the middle of the field with SS Donte Whitner responsible for him in coverage.
Whitner almost picked this pass off. Instead, it deflected high in the air for an incompletion. The Colts punted, but would Cleveland's offensive fortune change to start the second quarter?
- Short to Benjamin on 3rd Down: After a dropped pass by TE Jim Dray and a 6-yard run play, the Browns faced a 3rd-and-4 from the 39 yard line.
Just like the Browns were bringing six players on the rush defensively, the Colts were bringing the pressure on third down too. They have a six-man rush here, with the green defender coming free. RB Isaiah Crowell does an excellent job spotting it...
...and throwing a perfect cut block to buy QB Brian Hoyer time.
Hoyer has been bought more time by Crowell's block, but because of the free rusher he initially anticipated, he rushes to get this pass off.
A good throw would connect with WR Travis Benjamin on the comeback route. The throw is low and hits the turf before Benjamin can secure it. I always hold a high standard for receivers, so part of me says that Benjamin should've gotten back to this ball a little better. Nonetheless, more of it appears to be on Hoyer, and it forced Cleveland to punt again.
- Haden's 1st Half Hilton Shutdown: We saw CB Joe Haden line up on WR T.Y. Hilton for most of the first half and he nearly pitched a shutout on him.
Facing a 2nd-and-1 from the 15 yard line, Luck was looking deep for Hilton. OLB Barkevious Mingo also had perhaps the best game of his career, logging five quarterback hits and one sack. On this play, he beat the double team with an inside spin move and even sheds a third blocker to at least make Luck flinch a bit.
Downfield, Haden stays with Hilton and high points the ball for a deflection. He might have been trying to tip the ball to S Jim Leonhard, but Leonard wasn't anticipating it. One false start later, the Colts faced a 3rd-and-6 and after they failed to convert, P Pat McAfee saw the field again.
- Shift Says "Throw to Cameron:" On their next drive, the Browns faced a 3rd-and-5 from the 40 yard line.
TE Jordan Cameron was sent in motion from right to left. When no defender followed him, I instantly thought (in real time) that we'd have an easy completion to him.
Sure enough, we did. Cameron's third-down catch went for 10 yards and moved the chains to midfield.
- DQ Gets to Hoyer: Cleveland picked up a couple of more first downs before facing a 2nd-and-9 from the 22 yard line.
QB Brian Hoyer is going to take a three-step stop and look to WR Andrew Hawkins immediately, who is the slot receiver to his right.
The Colts are going to bring a five-man rush, with one of them being ILB D'Qwell Jackson in a blitz that will hide him a bit.
Hoyer gets hit by Jackson as he throws the quick out, which results in an incomplete pass. Without the pressure, Hoyer might have had about a five-yard gain to Hawkins.
- Poor Ball Placement: The Colts are one of the best third-down defenses in the NFL. On the next play (from the previous bullet point), Cleveland faced a 3rd-and-9.
This play is designed to get WR Travis Benjamin open on the slant. Since the Colts have shown a knack for bringing a blitz on third down, this is a good play call because the middle of the field will be open. As another bonus, Benjamin's man is playing off coverage in man.
Bang. This is not a difficult throw, and if Benjamin is hit in stride, he's going to get a first down for sure. He'd even have a good chance at continuing to run on a diagonal all the way to the corner of the end zone since the safety is pretty far off too.
Instead, the ball is behind Benjamin, and thus bounces off him for an incompletion. Benjamin's momentum would've been completely stopped if he had been able to catch this. It's a bad throw and led to a chain reaction of bad plays -- a 40-yard missed field goal by K Billy Cundiff, and then a game-tying touchdown drive for the Colts.
- Luck Fakes Out Kirksey for TD: Mid-way through the second quarter, the Browns were hoping to hold the Colts to a field goal.
Facing a 3rd-and-8 from the 11 yard line, Cleveland is going to bring three rushers from the top of the screen. Because of the heavy right side, QB Andrew Luck is going to see a rushing lane open up for him over the middle.
Luck sees all his receivers covered and will take off. The cyan defender is ILB Chris Kirksey. Knowing that Luck needs to get to the 3 yard line for a first down, I'd like to see Kirksey step up and force Luck to make a great move.
Instead, Kirksey makes the mistake of waiting back for Luck, who makes a nifty open field juke that sends the rookie linebacker out of his shoes as Luck goes in for the score, tying the game at 7-7.
- Overthrowing the Bomb to Gabriel: With the game now tied, Cleveland faced a 2nd-and-7 at the 26 yard line on their next drive.
I have to imagine that it particularly irritates offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan when he utilizes a play with some unconventional motions that springs a receiver wide open, only to see your quarterback miss him. The receiver to pay attention to is WR Taylor Gabriel at the top of the screen. QB Brian Hoyer takes the handoff and fakes a run to RB Isaiah Crowell, and then fakes a handoff to WR Andrew Hawkins.
After the second fake, you can see that the deep safety has bit -- his momentum is going the opposite direction of the sprinting Gabriel, while the cornerback is in zone coverage and thus passing Gabriel off.
Hoyer faces no duress and Gabriel is wide open. He'll actually be a lot more open than even the screenshot above indicates because Gabriel is going at full speed while the defender is still trying to accelerate.
The pass is way overthrown, much to the chagrin of Browns fans as the evidence against Hoyer continued to build up. To Hoyer's credit, he did respond with a nice throw to WR Travis Benjamin on the next play, and Cleveland continued moving the ball via the passing game to the red zone.
- Gordon Sustains Block on Crowell TD: Facing a 1st-and-goal from the 9 yard line, could the Browns finally get an offensive touchdown again?
With under two minutes to play in the first half, the handoff went to RB Isaiah Crowell. He is going to cut right up the middle as the offensive line does a good job sustaining their blocks. On the outside, notice WR Josh Gordon blocking a defensive back.
As Crowell finishes his run, Gordon continues blocking his man off his spot. By the end of the run, Gordon has blocked his guy into the end zone, and Cleveland takes a 14-7 lead.
- Wasting 2nd Half Opportunity: On the second play of the second half, CB Joe Haden forced a fumble on WR T.Y Hilton, giving the offense the ball at the 38 yard line. A false start penalty made it a 1st-and-15 from the 43 yard line.
Cleveland opted to run the wide receiver screen to WR Josh Gordon, a play that has been effective every time we've used it in Gordon's three games back. Not so much this time, though.
Ball placement is key on this play -- you need to hit the receiver in stride so he can make his cut upfield before the defensive back or a defensive lineman catches him. As you can see above, the ball is thrown ahead of Gordon a bit, which allows the defensive back to disrupt the play.
- No More Improvising? Facing a 3rd-and-12 from the 40 yard line, the Browns needed a lot of yards to get into field goal range -- probably a first down -- so scrambling really does no good here unless you're going for it on fourth down.
Hoyer buys time by rolling out, but he doesn't see anybody open and tucks and runs for four yards. Earlier this season, we saw a lot of Hoyer's success come when he or his receivers improvised for big plays. Here is an opportunity if Hoyer looks to the middle of the field, where he had a receiver starting to come back to him.
- Gilbert's Pick Six: Not all was lost on the previous drive -- P Spencer Lanning had his punt downed at the 1 yard line.
The Colts got out of danger with two running plays for a first down. On 2nd-and-10 from the 12 yard line, QB Andrew Luck is going to throw the out route to WR Reggie Wayne. The Browns disguise their coverage beautifully, though, which leads to a pick six for CB Justin Gilbert.
Gilbert is in the green. It looks like he'll follow the receiver at the bottom of the screen, but when he spots Wayne cutting across, he passes the outside receiver off to FS Jim Leonhard. From tight to his right, Wayne is running the slot, and Cleveland shows a defender racing over from a far distance to try to cover him in man. I'm sure Luck sees this and has no reason to think Wayne won't be wide open with a good throw.
Luck sees Wayne breaking, and with Leonard still appearing so far downfield, he doesn't suspect that Gilbert is breaking on Wayne's route.
It also helps that DL Ahtyba Rubin is hitting Luck as he throws the ball...
...and there is Gilbert jumping to grab the interception. He avoids a tackle and then takes it 23 yards for the pick six, putting the Browns up 21-7 with 10:32 to play in the third quarter.
- Kruger Flagged for Sack: KR Joshua Cribbs had his best kick return of the game on the ensuing kickoff, giving the Colts the ball near midfield.
Facing a 3rd-and-10, the Browns' defense was looking to send the Colts three-and-out again. OLB Paul Kruger is going to rush from the outside with FS Jim Leonhard coming up the middle. RB Trent Richardson goes to block Leonhard, but nobody accounts for Kruger.
When you look at the still shot above, it absolutely looks like Kruger is leading with his helmet into Luck's head/neck area. The official has the same view, and in live motion, I'm sure it looks like contact was made.
Slowing things down, you can see that Kruger extended both arms to execute the sack, but it's too late -- the flag is going to be thrown. I don't fault the official for the flag -- this is a tough one to make live. I do fault the NFL for not making these plays reviewable. This should have led to a punt, but instead, the Colts kicked a 51-yard field goal to make it a 21-10 game.
- Offensive Players Not Stepping Up: Even though we're sick of field goals, when the Colts score a field goal, if you match with one, it's not too bad to say you're maintaining a 14-point lead. Unfortunately, besides QB Brian Hoyer, other offensive players continue to not step their games up.
After two run plays, the Browns faced a 3rd-and-7. Hoyer likes the out route to WR Travis Benjamin and will throw the ball out there.
The throw is a little lofty, but it's going to be on target. Note: if Hoyer had decided on WR Andrew Hawkins in the slot, he would've had a catch-and-run for a first down.
Benjamin has the ball hit his body area, but the defensive back comes over and knocks the pass away. It's fitting that WR Josh Gordon is shown on the sideline right next to where this play is happening because it was a running theme most of the game that Gordon was not utilized on third down. Instead, Benjamin was.
Believe it or not, it actually wasn't the most terrible decision -- we've highlighted three instances already in this review in which Benjamin got open on third down. The problem? All three were incompletions -- two of them on poor throws, and this one on a drop.
- One Slip Costs Haden: Facing a 3rd-and-10 from beyond field goal range, QB Andrew Luck hadn't converted on third down once in the game...until this play.
WR T.Y Hilton is streaking at the bottom of the screen on CB Joe Haden. The Browns are playing an amoeba defense of sorts up front.
Haden did a remarkable job throughout the game, but it figures that the one time he slips, Luck catches him. SS Donte Whitner came on a delayed blitz, but it got to Luck just a hair too late.
Haden has good recovery speed, but the ball is actually underthrown a bit, so Haden will end up over-pursing it.
There is the visual of the over-pursuit. S Jordan Poyer misses a tackle and Hilton goes 42 yards for the touchdown. FS Jim Leonhard intercepted the ensuing two-point attempt, leading to a score of 21-16.
- Missing the Bomb to Gordon: With under four minutes to play in the third quarter, the Browns went for another bomb on the first play.
Off of a playaction fake, WR Josh Gordon is running a hesitation route at the top of the screen before taking off deep. Both safeties go toward the middle of the field, giving Gordon the one-on-one outside match.
Gordon has his man beat...
...but it is overthrown again.
I'd lean toward blaming Hoyer on this play, but here is the example of why we can't always assume that it's 100% on him. Gordon was given credit for a nifty hesitation move here that bought him the separation he got downfield. However, Hoyer was winding up to throw as this hesitation move was being done. What if Gordon stuttered on his own, thinking he was helping, but Hoyer thought he was just running a straight go route and timed it accordingly? We don't know for certain.
- Colts Jump Route on 3rd Down: At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Colts continue to chip away, getting a 33-yard field goal to make it a 21-19 game.
The Browns finally picked up a first down but soon faced another 3rd-and-4. As soon as QB Brian Hoyer takes the snap, he is going to stare TE Jordan Cameron on his right and throw the ball. Pre-snap, it looks like he's being given enough space for a first down throw.
The throw ends up sailing out of bounds, but I think it's because Hoyer sees the defensive back jumping the route. Why can't Hoyer pull this down and try to go elsewhere? I think it was a mistake a few weeks back for Hoyer to be criticized for taking a third down sack. In field goal range, yes -- try to avoid it. In a situation like this, a sack isn't the end of the world.
- Leonhard 4th Quarter INT: Facing a 2nd-and-5, the Colts were looking to take the lead part-way through the fourth quarter. That's when the Jim Leonhard show started.
The slot receiver to the left of QB Andrew Luck is WR T.Y. Hilton. He is the targeted receiver on this play.
Once again, the secondary is helped by defensive pressure. OLB Barkevious Mingo beats his man, forcing Luck to roll out to his right.
Luck rolls out and sees Hilton cutting across the field.
Luck throws on the run, but the pass is a bit high for Hilton, leading to a deflection...
...and an interception into the waiting arms of Leonhard, who returns it to the 23 yard line.
- "Not All on Hoyer:" A lot can be blamed on QB Brian Hoyer, but it wouldn't be fair to say Hoyer didn't capitalize on this great field position, as we'll see.
On 1st-and-10, RB Terrance West tries to bounce this run to the outside, allowing two defenders to easily chase him down for a loss of one yard. If he had cut up the middle instead, he might have had a nice little hole to squeeze through -- at the very least, he would've had some positive yardage.
As I said earlier, the play goes for a loss, forcing Cleveland into a 2nd-and-11.
The next play is a designed moving pocket to the left with WR Andrew Hawkins at the only option to throw to. Hoyer's choices are to throw it to Hawkins or throw it away -- that's it. He throws it, but the defensive back has tight coverage. Hawkins nearly broke the tackle, but his knee tapped the ground before he could. The play went for a gain of just three yards.
Facing a 3rd-and-8, the Colts cleared out the middle of the field on a blitz. Hawkins did his thing where he runs one way and then cuts back to the other direction.
The throw is on target, but the defender jumps on Hawkins' back a tad early, leading to the incompletion. Hawkins begs for a flag, but the officials don't throw it. Cleveland settled for a 39-yard field goal, extending their lead to 24-19 with 8:39 left in the game.
- Leonhard Sacks Luck: On the Colts next drive, they faced a 3rd-and-11 in Cleveland territory.
OLB Paul Kruger and FS Jim Leonhard are both going to blitz from the bottom of the screen. The Colts keep seven players in to block, so technically, they should have this blocked.
RB Trent Richardson doesn't see Leonhard coming off the edge, and Luck doesn't suspect anything from the blind side either.
Leonhard sacks Luck for a loss of 11 yards. He then goes back out there to fair catch a punt at the 13 yard line.
- Best Throw Goes to Hawkins: This was supposed to be the defining offensive drive -- if Cleveland could pick up a few first downs, they might be able to end the game without giving Luck another opportunity.
QB Brian Hoyer arguably delivered his best throw of the game on this 2nd-and-8 play. After a play fake, Hoyer has two receivers running deep comeback routes.
Hoyer is getting drilled as he releases the pass...
...but it's right on the money to WR Andrew Hawkins for a gain of 20 yards.
- Need Gordon to Step Up: After the Browns ran the ball twice for three yards, they faced a 3rd-and-7 at the 38 yard line.
With only 4:00 to go, picking up a first down would allow Cleveland to take the game eventually down to around two minutes, or they'd force the Colts to burn all of their timeouts. The Colts are going to blitz from the middle, so WR Josh Gordon will be the open man here.
Gordon has a little bit of separation, but you can't help but continue to wonder whether he's running the correct routes in terms of depth and distance. Again, we don't know.
Gordon hits the deck after he releases the pass.
Originally on live television, it looked like a good throw. From this angle, you can see that Gordon is sliding and having to stop his momentum. I still put a significant amount of blame on Gordon for not catching a pass like this -- we count on him being the best receiver in the NFL, and with that comes the expectations that he can come up with a catch like this.
- Luck Finds the Matchup on 3rd Down: P Spencer Lanning got off another good punt that was downed at the 10 yard line. On first down, OLB Barkevious Mingo was unblocked and sacked QB Andrew Luck. After a completion on second down, the Colts faced 3rd-and-7 from the 13 yard line.
CB Justin Gilbert is lined up one-on-one with WR Donte Moncrief at the bottom of the screen. There is 2:45 left in the game, so the Browns' defense needs to prevent chunks of yards at the very lease.
Both cornerbacks on the outside played trailing man coverage with safety help over the top. On the other side of the field, the man coverage is tight. Gilbert allows for a little more separation, though, and that's the matchup Luck exploits.
The connection is good for 27 yards, putting the ball 60 yards away from the end zone.
- Pass Interference on Skrine: This was the crippling play, and a pretty bogus-looking one at that.
QB Andrew Luck targeted TE Dwayne Allen deep down the middle of the field. Pass interference is going to be thrown on CB Buster Skrine, and the only thing he might have done was put his hand up against Allen here. It's not enough contact to where he's jostling or tugging on Allen, though.
Skrine high points the ball to assist on the deflection, but the official throws the flag. 35 yards, just like that.
- Near-Fumble After Sea Parts for Luck: Facing a 2nd-and-10 from the 12 yard line, Browns fans could see the end coming, and it didn't feel good.
The Browns rushed OLB Barkevious Mingo wide from the outside and DL Desmond Bryant was trying to make an inside pass rushing move, which parted the sea open for QB Andrew Luck.
As Luck tried to extend for a first down, FS Jim Leonhard came over and punted him in the head (those familiar with Randy Orton in the WWE will get the reference).
The ball comes loose, and a bunch of Browns are around it. It's unfortunate that Luck somehow still had the ability to immediately grab and tuck the ball into his body before S Jordan Poyer could recover it.
- That Darn Spin Move: The Browns' defense had one more shot. The Colts faced a 4th-and-1 with 0:44 left in the game.
RB Boom Herron was in the game and the handoff went to him. He ran up the middle, but his own line was pushed back into him. Herron bounced to the outside and SS Donte Whitner went to get him.
Herron then executed a perfectly timed spin move, and it just so happened to work for a first down. Unbelievable.
- Own Pick Helps Colts for TD: How can you stop a quarterback like Andrew Luck from getting a touchdown with four downs to work with at the 1 yard line? You can't.
The Colts run a little pick play at the bottom of the screen. WR T.Y. Hilton is in the slot.
They get away with the pick because the two Colts players are the ones who run into each other, but that also prevents CB Joe Haden from getting around the action.
Luck waits and hits Hilton for the score. The two-point conversion fails, making it a 25-24 game with 0:36 to play.
- Nearly Another Rally: With 0:28 to go and two timeouts, the Browns still had a glimmer of hope to get into field goal range.
WR Josh Gordon is at the top of the screen. Surprisingly, the Colts only have one player back in zone coverage on his side of the field.
Gordon gets behind the defender and is going for the ball...
...but it's just beyond his reach. All things considered, it was a good attempt by both QB Brian Hoyer and Gordon. I wanted to rag on Gordon in live action, but this ball sunk like a rock once it got to this point, and it's not every day that receivers are used to fielding those type of throws right on the boundary. That was Cleveland's final opportunity...but it's also a completion (along with a field goal) that again could have potentially saved the job of Hoyer.
- Special Teams Tackles: There were 7 special teams tackles, with 3 from WR Marlon Moore and 1 each from ILB Zac Diles, OLB Eric Martin, S Johnson Bademosi, and CB K'Waun Williams. There were 4 assists, with 1 each from S Jim Leonhard, S Jordan Poyer, S Johnson Bademosi, and LS Christian Yount. There were 2 forced fumbles (with no recoveries), with 1 each by WR Marlon Moore and OLB Eric Martin.
- 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, WR Josh Gordon was still utilized on over 75% of the team's plays. On defense, they were on the field for 81 plays, showing some wear by the end of the game.
- Brownies: The Browns were 4-of-15 (27%) on 3rd down. ... The Colts converted 5-of-16 (31%) of their third down opportunities. ... The Browns won the time of possession battle 31:56 to 28:04. ... WR Joshua Cribbs didn't have the homecoming he wanted, fumbling twice on return attempts. ... Owner Jimmy Haslam talked to former head coach Rob Chudzinski prior to the game. ... Cleveland had 13 quarterback hits and 12 passes defended. ... CB Pierre Desir had a holding penalty on the Browns' opening kickoff. ... If the Browns hadn't scored an offensive touchdown at the end of the first half, head coach Mike Pettine might have gone with QB Johnny Manziel in the second half.
Up next, the Browns take on the Cincinnati Bengals at home. Keep it tuned to Dawgs By Nature for our coverage leading up to the game!