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Cardinals-Browns Final Score: Cleveland Blows Halftime Lead, Arizona Rolls 34-20

Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Things looked good at one point in the game, with the Cleveland Browns holding a 20-7 lead with under a minute to go in the first half. 27 unanswered points later, including a disastrous second half, the Browns dropped to 2-6 with a 34-20 loss to the Cardinals.

The Cardinals struck first, thanks to some picture-perfect throws by QB Carson Palmer to open the game. He finished off the first drive of the game with an 11-yard touchdown pass to TE Troy Niklas to give them a 7-0 lead. After RB Chris Johnson was appearing to break free on the team's next drive, he was stripped by ILB Karlos Dansby and OLB Armonty Bryant returned the loose ball to the 9 yard line. On 3rd-and-goal from the 10, QB Josh McCown found WR Brian Hartline for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.

After the defense forced a three-and-out, RB Duke Johnson slipped free for a 52-yard catch-and-run on the next drive, setting the Browns up inside the 10 yard line. On 3rd-and-3 at the beginning of the second quarter, McCown found TE Gary Barnidge for a 3-yard touchdown, giving the team a 14-7 lead. The Browns then put together their most lengthy drive of the game, resulting in another touchdown drive, this time with McCown finding Hartline on 3rd-and-goal from the 2 yard line. K Travis Coons missed the extra point, making it a 20-7 game.

The Browns got the ball back before the end of the first half, but punted with 0:24 left. Arizona got a big pass play to set up a field goal, making it a 20-10 game at the half.

Cleveland got the ball to begin the third quarter, and things completely fell apart. On third down, McCown took a big shot that bothered him the rest of the game. On the next drive, RB Chris Johnson appeared to be short on a 3rd-and-1 run, but the officials gave him a generous spot and Cleveland didn't bother challenging it. On the next play, Palmer hit WR Michael Floyd for a 60-yard touchdown pass, beating CB Joe Haden, who suffered a concussion on the play. The touchdown made it a 20-17 game.

On the Browns' next series, Hartline dropped a third-down pass, and on the ensuing punt, CB Patrick Peterson had a big return. Palmer went deep again right away, connecting with a receiver inside the 10 yard line on a play where SS Donte Whitner suffered a concussion. A few plays later, Palmer again found Niklas for a 1 yard touchdown on 3rd-and-goal. Arizona re-took the lead at 24-20 mid-way through the third quarter.

The Browns' defense forced back-to-back turnovers to close out the third quarter, the latter of which was a fumble inside Arizona territory. After a false start by LT Joe Thomas, though, McCown made an ill-advised decision to throw a 50-50 ball up the left sideline to short WR Taylor Gabriel, which the Cardinals safety came over and intercepted. Palmer hit WR Larry Fitzgerald for a 6-yard touchdown pass with under 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, giving Arizona a 31-20 lead.

McCown was trying to lead another comeback. After he got the ball into Arizona territory, RB Robert Turbin fumbled a handoff for the second time in the game. This time, he lost the fumble. One Arizona field goal later, you had your final score of 34-20 Arizona. The Browns have a short week with the 7-0 Bengals on deck.

Quick Stats

  • QB Josh McCown: 18-of-34 (52.9%) for 211 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT.
  • Browns running backs: 14 carries, 20 yards.
  • Arizona was 13-of-16 (81.25%) on third down.
  • Cleveland was 9-of-16 (56.25%) on third down.
  • The Browns forced 4 turnovers.
  • Cleveland was out-gained 491 yards to 254 yards.
  • No catches for WR Dwayne Bowe.
  • RB Duke Johnson didn't play most of the second half for some reason.