After coming through for five straight games, the Cleveland Browns’ offense finally laid an egg in their 38-15 loss to the New England Patriots. The running game never got going, and the team had four turnovers as well as a turnover on downs at one point. The defense, meanwhile, was fortunate that the Patriots committed so many penalties. Even despite that, they allowed over 300 yards passing to a rookie quarterback. Let’s get to the full recap.
Cleveland received the opening kickoff, and the offense started out by going empty on first down. The pass was a quick pass to TE Harrison Bryant for a 6 yard gain. On 2nd-and-4, they had three tight ends in the game and ran a playaction fake, with QB Jacoby Brissett rolling out and trying to hit TE Pharaoh Brown downfield. Instead, the pass was intercepted by S Kyle Dugger.
The defense allowed three third down conversions in a row, the third of which was a pass interference called on CB Greg Newsome in the end zone because he face guarded the receiver. Despite having 1st-and-goal from the 1 yard line, the defense stuffed run plays two times in a row to RB Rhamondre Stevenson. On 3rd-and-goal, QB Bailey Zappe bought time but wasn’t finding anyone. Finally, he found TE Hunter Henry in the corner of the end zone, but the officials flagged him for going out of bounds (thanks to a push by LB Sione Takitaki) and being the first to touch the football. The Patriots settled for a 19-yard field goal by K Nick Folk to take a 3-0 lead.
The Browns evened things up on their next drive. After a couple of runs by RB Nick Chubb to move the chains, Brissett found TE David Njoku down the left sideline for a 33-yard completion into field goal range. Trying to move into the red zone, on 3rd-and-4 at the Patriots’ 21 yard line, Cleveland ran a draw play to RB Kareem Hunt, but he didn’t have any running room. K Cade York came on and kicked a 38-yard field goal to make it a 3-3 game with 3:00 left in the first quarter.
Early in the Patriots’ next drive, they had a stretch in which they had an illegal block in the back called, and then a false start, putting them in a 1st-and-25 situation. That made them a bit pass happy, and on 2nd-and-15, DE Myles Garrett disrupted Zappe’s arm as it was coming forward, leading to an empty-handed push of the football forward that was recovered by a diving S John Johnson at the 38 yard line.
An 11-yard pass to Brown, followed by a 3-yard run by Chubb, set the Browns up with a 2nd-and-7 at the Patriots’ 24 yard line to end the first quarter. A couple plays later in the second quarter, the Browns had a 4th-and-1, and Cleveland hurried to the line for a quarterback sneak. The Browns did not get a good push at the snap, though, and the Patriots stopped it for a turnover on downs.
CB Greedy Williams was flagged for pass interference on an overthrown third down pass to prevent a three-and-out, but the defense tightened up after that to force a punt. Field position had been changed as a result of the turnover on downs earlier, though, as Brissett would now have to take over at his own 13 yard line. Cleveland quickly moved the ball to midfield, but on 2nd-and-7 from the 49 yard line, Brissett threw the ball away after a playaction fake. Then, on 3rd-and-7, his pass to WR Amari Cooper was way over his head, leading to a punt.
Zappe was more on target for his next drive, leading New England down into Cleveland territory. Eventually, the Patriots faced a 3rd-and-10 from the Browns’ 31 yard line, and the defense was ready to bring the heat. Unfortunately, New England dialed up a draw to Stevenson, who ran it 31 yards untouched to the left for a touchdown, putting the Patriots on top 10-3 with 3:23 remaining in the first half.
WR Chester Rogers got the ball out to the 29 yard line on the kickoff to begin the Browns’ next drive. Two short gains set up a 3rd-and-5 heading into the two-minute warning. A 7-yard completion to Cooper moved the chains, and then on the next third down, Cooper drew a 21-yard pass interference penalty to get Cleveland into New England territory. A 9-yard run by Hunt made it 2nd-and-1, but then the Browns tried taking two longer attempts that both fell incomplete. They brought York on for a48-yard field goal, which he made to make it a 10-6 game at the half.
Zappe got a big pass play to start the third quarter when he found TE Jonnu Smith, and then S Grant Delpit and LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah both missed the tackle, allowing Smith’s catch-and-run to go for 53 yards before being chased down by CB Martin Emerson. A 13-yard pass to TE Hunter Henry set the Patriots up with a 1st-and-goal from the 2 yard line. The defense came close to getting a stop like they did in the first quarter, but then on 3rd-and-goal, Zappe found WR Tyquan Thornton over the middle for the touchdown, extending the Patriots’ lead to 17-6.
Cleveland’s next drive was pretty ugly. They did pick up one first down on a 3rd-and-12 pass to Cooper, but it required a difficult grab him to keep his feet in bounds too. After that, Brissett led Cooper too far on the flag route, and was basically intercepted on his attempt at a bomb for WR Anthony Schwartz (officials ruled the defender out of bounds). The Patriots got good field position after the punt, beginning at their own 39 yard line.
The defense forced a three-and-out, assisted by a first down holding penalty on New England. The offense got the ball back at the 28 yard line, hoping to get the offense in sync. Instead, the Patriots brought a blitz, and on first down, Brissett was hit as he tried to throw to the right sideline. The pass was intercepted.
Three plays later, on 3rd-and-1, Delpit fell down trying to cover Henry, who was then uncovered for an easy 31-yard touchdown. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, a one-score game turned into a 24-6 deficit with 5:32 remaining in the third quarter.
The offense went three-and-out again, trying to pass the ball with three incompletions. Things quickly looked like they were spiraling out of control, reminiscent of last year’s 45-7 loss. New England did go three-and-out on their series, thanks to a nice tackle by Johnson on third down to force a punt.
The crowd sarcastically cheered for an attempted run to Chubb for 5 yards to start the next drive. Brissett found Njoku along the left side for 21 yards, and then Chubb had a run along the right side for 18 yards. That was followed up by a 14-yard screen pass to Chubb, getting the ball to the 23 yard line. Brissett just barely overthrew a touchdown pass over the middle to Njoku on first down, and then his second down pass was incomplete heading into the final quarter of play.
On third down, the Patriots brought the blitz, and Brissett again held onto the ball too long. The play was ruled a fumble and then batted out of bounds by WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, pushing a field goal attempt back to a 51-yard attempt. If anyone was on today, it was York, who connected to make it a 24-9 game and keep Cleveland’s slim hopes alive with a 15-point deficit.
New England put together a 5-minute drive and appeared ready to negate the Browns’ previous score with a short field goal of their own. However, on third down, Zappe was called for intentional grounding, pushing the field goal back 15 yards to make it a 45-yard attempt. Folk pushed the field goal to the right, giving the ball back to Cleveland at their own 35 yard line with 9:01 to go.
It looked like the Browns’ hopes were fading when they faced a 3rd-and-15 from their own 30 yard line, but Brissett found WR David Bell for 13 yards. Then, on 4th-and-2, he lofted a pass down the right sideline for Peoples-Jones that fell in his arms for a 33-yard gain. A few plays later, on 4th-and-5 from the 15 yard line, Brissett found Cooper in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown to make it a 24-15 game. The two-point conversion was no good, though, keeping it a two-score game.
Cleveland then attempted an onside kick, and it was recovered by S Ronnie Harrison! Unfortunately, right before Harrison possessed the ball, CB A.J. Green had slid into the pile and touched the ball while he was out of bounds. Therefore, replay review gave the ball to New England at the Browns’ 47 yard line with 6:15 to go.
The defense forced a three-and-out, which included a sack by Garrett on second down. On the punt, though, Rogers muffed it in the sun, allowing the Patriots to recover at the 19 yard line. The first play was a jet sweep to Thornton, which the Browns were completely fooled by as he had a walk-in touchdown to extend the lead to 31-15.
Brissett then fumbled on the ensuing drive when he was trying to pull the ball back. I actually don’t know what the hell happened, it looked like he did a screwball tuck, and the loose ball was recovered by the Patriots down to the 8 yard line. On 3rd-and-goal, Stevenson increased New England’s lead to 38-15 with a 6-yard run.
Perhaps the final chef’s kiss on the crapfest was the fact that Schwartz dropped back-to-back passes for the final turnover on downs for Cleveland’s offense.
Up next, Cleveland travels to Baltimore to take on the Ravens. The Browns are 2-4, and that game (and definitely the next two) are Cleveland’s last chance at contention. As crazy as it may sound, a win over Baltimore could lead to the Browns being in first place in the AFC North.
- QB Jacoby Brissett: 21-of-45 for 266 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT. 1 fumble lost.
- RB Nick Chubb: 12 carries, 56 yards. 1 catch, 14 yards (2 targets).
- RB Kareem Hunt: 4 carries, 12 yards. 0 catches (1 target).
- WR Amari Cooper: 4 catches, 44 yards (12 targets), 1 TD.
- TE David Njoku: 3 catches, 58 yards (6 targets).
- DE Myles Garrett: 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble.