If you want the quick-and-dirty version of the recap, then here it is:
Can't run can't tackle can't pass can't catch can't score can't block can't coach can't win pic.twitter.com/HJp3DHZHxC— Bottlegate (@Bottlegate) September 24, 2017
Facing what looked to be one of the worst teams in the league over the first two weeks, the Cleveland Browns lost to the Indianapolis Colts by a final score of 31-28, dropping to 0-3 on the season. The final score was not indicative of just how bad things were.
The Browns found some early success running the ball, but both teams traded several punts to begin the game. Late in the first quarter, Jacoby Brissett found WR T.Y. Hilton for 2 catches for 51 yards. On 3rd-and-goal, Brissett spread the field and took it himself for a 5-yard touchdown, giving the Colts a 7-0 lead.
To start the second quarter, it was a whole rhythm for the Browns. After a 38-yard pass to WR Kenny Britt from QB DeShone Kizer, the Browns finished the drive with a nifty 19-yard run by RB Duke Johnson, including a leap to the pylon to punch it in and tie the game at 7-7.
Unfortunately, Brissett drove the Colts right back down the field on their next drive. He took it himself again on 3rd-and-goal, this time from 7 yards out on a play that included a couple of spin moves to avoid a sack. Indianapolis led 14-7 part-way in to the second quarter.
Cleveland could’ve had a successful drive after that, but drops by Britt and WR Rashard Higgins stalled things at midfield. It did allow P Britton Colquitt to nail a punt down to the 3 yard line, giving the Colts their worst starting field position of the game.
Backed up at their own 1 yard line, Brissett got a 34-yard lobber up to WR Donte Moncrief at the sideline to get out of danger territory. A few plays later on third down, Hilton was found wide open and then S Jabrill Peppers took a terrible angle, leading to a 61-yard catch-and-run touchdown to give Indy a 21-7 lead.
The Browns’ offense didn’t help matters with an ensuing three-and-out, giving the ball right back to the Colts, and a 15-yard late hit on the punt return gave the opposition even better field position. Hilton drew a long pass interference penalty from Peppers, and then a few plays later, RB Frank Gore punched it in from 4 yards out to take a 28-7 lead.
In the two-minute drill, Kizer got the Browns going, with the highlight of the drive being an incredible leaping one-hand stab by WR Jordan Leslie to get into a goal-to-go situation.
From the 1 yard line, Kizer found TE David Njoku wide open off of playaction, making it a 28-14 game heading to the half.
The Browns’ defense forced a three-and-out to begin the third quarter, and then an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Colts during the punt return gave Cleveland good starting field position. Duke Johnson was sparking the drive and Cleveland was on the move and in the red zone with a 1st-and-10. But then, Kizer made his worst throw of the game, well behind WR Kasen Williams and intercepted by CB Rashaan Melvin mid-way through the third quarter.
Cleveland was able to force another punt, but not after Indianapolis was able to eat up a couple minutes of valuable clock. Indianapolis started driving near the end of the third quarter, but then CB Jason McCourty forced a fumble on TE Jack Doyle and Cleveland recovered! Before the team could even celebrate, though, Kizer threw behind Britt on 2nd-and-long, and the pass deflected off Britt’s hands and into the arms of Melvin for an interception.
The Colts opened the fourth quarter by eating up five minutes of clock on the ground, leading to a 34-yard field goal to give them a three-possession lead at 31-14. After a three-and-out, Cleveland punted. Indianapolis also went three-and-out, and the Browns burned all three timeouts to try to save time earlier rather than later. With seven minutes to go in the game, Kizer found Britt for an 11-yard touchdown pass, making it a 31-21 game.
Cleveland forced a three-and-out, getting the ball back with four minutes to go. They struck quick, getting a QB sneak from Kizer with 2:04 to go to make it a 31-28 game.
Trying their second onside kick, Cleveland couldn’t recover. But, with 2:03 on the click, it meant that the Colts couldn’t just knee it three times. A three-and-out would allow the Browns to get the ball back with about 20 seconds to go, needing a field goal, and that’s the scenario they got. Unfortunately, they couldn’t make anything of it backed up so far back, and Kizer’s last desperation heave was picked off by S Malik Hooker.
Quick Hitters - Browns
- QB DeShone Kizer: 22-of-47 for 242 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT. 7 rushes, 44 yards, 1 TD.
- RB Isaiah Crowell: 12 carries, 44 yards. 2 catches, 10 yards (3 targets).
- RB Duke Johnson: 2 carries, 23 yards, 1 TD. 6 catches, 81 yards (7 targets).
- WR Kenny Britt: 3 catches, 54 yards, 1 TD (10 targets).
- WR T.Y. Hilton: 7 catches, 153 yards, 1 TD (9 targets).
- The Browns had 8 dropped passes, per CBS.
- Cleveland registered 3 sacks on the day.
- The Colts averaged 2.55 yards per carry.
- Cleveland out-gained the Colts 346 yards to 335 yards.