It was over a decade since the Cleveland Browns appeared on Sunday Night Football, but their offense didn’t rise to the occasion, as they lost to the Los Angeles Rams 20-13. The Browns fell to 1-2 on the season.
The Browns’ opening drive was filled with three penalties, but P Jamie Gillan got a great roll on his punt to pin Los Angeles back inside the 20. Cleveland’s makeshift defense forced a quick three-and-out. On the Browns’ second drive, a 9-yard run by RB Nick Chubb set up a 3rd-and-1. But then, DT Aaron Donald made his presence known by swimming right by LG Joel Bitonio and hitting Chubb for a loss of two yards.
The Rams got into field goal range on their next drive, but it took a kick from 53 yards by K Greg Zuerlien to give Los Angeles a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. After that, the Browns’ offense got into a groove with a combination of runs by Chubb and RPO passes from QB Baker Mayfield to WR Odell Beckham Jr. The Browns had moved the ball into the red zone heading into the second quarter.
The Browns continued pushing the ball closer to start the second quarter, but on 3rd-and-goal from the 5 yard line, Mayfield was flushed from the pocket and had to throw it away. K Austin Seibert came on to bang through a 23-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3. After a couple of back-and-forth series, QB Jared Goff had the Rams’ offense on the moves with a couple of big pass plays. After they were in field goal range, DT Larry Ogunjobi shot in for a sack, helping make the Rams settle for a 48-yard field goal attempt. This time, Zuerlien’s kick sliced way to the right.
Mayfield’s next drive started with a 25-yard RPO to WR Jarvis Landry to get into Rams territory. The drive stalled right after that, though, and the Browns punted to the Rams with two minutes left in the half. The Browns got a huge strip from DE Myles Garrett with about 25 seconds left in the half, and LB Joe Schobert scooped up the ball and returned it to the 17 yard line with 0:18 left and all three timeouts.
Cleveland could only settle for a 35-yard field goal by Seibert, but it did give them a 6-3 lead heading into the half. The Rams’ scripted set of plays on offense to begin the second half had them rolling. It looked like Cleveland might stop them on 3rd-and-goal from the 11 yard line, but then Goff found WR Cooper Kupp for a touchdown on an out route to give the Rams a 10-6 lead.
The Browns responded with their own lengthy drive, keyed by two third down pass conversions: a catch by WR Damion Ratley, and then a screen pass to Chubb. Cleveland got a pass interference penalty in the end zone to get the ball on 1st-and-goal at the 1 yard line. Cleveland thought they took the lead with a Chubb touchdown run, but an illegal shift penalty took it off the board. A few plays later, facing 3rd-and-goal from the 2 yard line, Mayfield found TE Demetrius Harris wide open for a touchdown. The extra point by Seibert gave Cleveland a 13-10 lead with 4:37 left in the third quarter.
On the Rams’ next drive, CB T.J. Carrie made what looked to be an incredible diving interception at the sideline. The referees reviewed it, and the play stood, giving the Browns the ball at midfield.
TJ CARRIE WITH THE TAKEAWAY❗️ pic.twitter.com/1Www77gG2A— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 23, 2019
The first play for Cleveland was a messed up handoff, but only for a loss of one yard. On 3rd-and-8, Mayfield and Landry couldn’t connect downfield. Then, Gillan had his first dud punt of the season, a 21-yarder that went out of bounds, giving the ball back to Los Angeles at the 28 yard line.
Goff connected with WR Brandin Cooks and Kupp on pass plays of 23 and 21 yards, respectively, to close out the third quarter and set the Rams up in the red zone. The Rams decided to bust out an end-around reverse to begin the quarter, and it worked to perfection for a 17-yard gain. On 2nd-and-goal from the 1 yard line, Goff’s quarterback sneak came up short. Cleveland got the Rams to jump on third down, making it 3rd-and-goal from the 6 yard line. No matter, though — Goff simply found Kupp wide open, as he beat S Jermaine Whitehead to give the Rams a 17-13 lead with 12:48 to go in the game.
The Browns looked ready to respond with a drive of their own, getting into Rams territory pretty quickly. Around the 40 yard line, things fell apart. A third down screen pass was stopped for no gain, and then on 4th-and-9, the offense stayed on the field...and Mayfield handed the ball to Chubb on a draw, who only got 2 yards for a turnover on downs.
The Rams faced a key 3rd-and-10 from midfield, and on a Goff scramble, the Browns’ defense committed two penalties that moved the chains. Another Goff scramble moved the Rams into the red zone. The Rams faced a 4th-and-inches with a decision — go for it and seal the game, or kick the field goal to take a seven-point lead? He sent the field goal unit out to kick a 37-yard field goal, which was good. That gave the Rams a 20-13 lead with 6:37 left in the game.
Things didn’t go well for Cleveland. A holding penalty on the kickoff gave them the ball at the 10 yard line. On first and third down, Mayfield ate sacks from Donald and LB Clay Matthews III, forcing a punt from back at the 2 yard line. Gillan got off a good punt to the Rams’ 47 yard line, but it wasn’t looking good with just 4:23 to play in the game. After two run plays, Goff gave the Browns some life by throwing an interception! The ball was tipped by LB Joe Schobert and picked by DB Juston Burris.
Mayfield was going to take a sack into the two minute warning, but an illegal contact penalty bailed Cleveland out. Cleveland had a couple of pass plays to get them to a 1st-and-goal at the 4 yard line. Before you knew it, though, there were three straight incompletions and now a 4th-and-goal. Mayfield backpedaled way out of the play on fourth down and had to heave it to the corner for an interception after rolling to his right, sealing the game for the Rams.
- QB Baker Mayfield: 18-of-36 for 195 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.
- RB Nick Chubb: 23 carries, 86 yards. 4 catches, 35 yards.
- WR Odell Beckham Jr: 6 catches, 56 yards (9 targets).