The Cleveland Browns took a hard punch to the gut on Sunday, falling to the Baltimore Ravens by a score of 23-21 after a game-winning field goal by the Ravens' Justin Tucker. This was a game that was all about the Browns' blown second half opportunities on offense to close out the game. They were as efficient as we've ever seen for the first three quarters of play. Then, the fourth quarter struck.
- Leading 21-17, the Browns' defense finally stopped Baltimore's offense as FS Tashaun Gipson picked off QB Joe Flacco and returned the ball to the 30 yard line. On the first play, RB Isaiah Crowell made a rookie mistake and ran backwards on a run for a loss of 8 yards. That eventually forced Cleveland to settle for a 50-yard field goal attempt from K Billy Cundiff. Cundiff had the distance, but the ball hooked and banged off the left upright.
- On the next drive, the Browns' defense came up with a 4th-and-1 stuff on the Ravens. On 2nd-and-10, QB Brian Hoyer found WR Taylor Gabriel wide open on a bomb. Gabriel fell down as he caught the pass, and by the time he got up and ran, it was a 70-yard gain, but not a touchdown. The Browns couldn't punch it in, but Cundiff still had a chance to extend the lead to seven points. The Ravens blocked the 36-yard field goal instead, keeping it a 21-17 game.
- The Ravens' moved the ball down the field again, but settled for a 21-yard field goal with 5 minutes to play, making it a 21-20 lead for the Browns. With a good drive, the Browns could've put the game away. Instead, they went three-and-out.
- The Browns' defense came up strong against Flacco. The Ravens punted on 4th-and-16 with just over two minutes to play. WR Travis Benjamin inexplicably let the ball go instead of fair catching it at the 20, and the Ravens downed the ball at the 7 yard line. The Browns went three-and-out again, with Hoyer's third-down pass being just behind WR Andrew Hawkins. They only took up 21 seconds of game clock, and the Ravens took over at midfield, which means it wasn't too difficult to get into the range of K Justin Tucker.
- On 2nd-and-5, WR Steve Smith beat CB Joe Haden down the sideline for a 32-yard catch. After draining some clock, Tucker hit the 32-yarder to win the game.
The Browns had a chance to put this game away and they didn't. Cleveland can largely only blame themselves for heading into the bye week at 1-2, but there is still a lot of optimism surrounding this team if the defense can start getting their act together. The Browns have a very soft schedule following the bye, and they'll need to take advantage of that.
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