Cleveland popped out to a 10-3 lead only to then watch as the Bills rolled off 25 consecutive points to pull away for an easy 31-23 victory that looks closer than it was thanks to a pair of garbage-time touchdowns from the Browns.
The loss means the Browns managed to go 0-4 against the AFC East this season and dropped their overall record to 3-7 after their sixth loss in the past seven games.
So did anyone play well for the Browns? (Sure.) Where there things that went wrong? (Oh yes!) Let’s break it down with a few Brownies, some Frownies and maybe a “it was good enough to earn a mention.”
Opening drive of the game - As they often do, the Browns came out looking sharp on their opening offensive series of the game, putting together a tidy nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive the culminated with a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jacoby Brissett to wide receiver Amari Cooper.
First-quarter Nick Chubb: Running back Nick Chubb looked to be on his way to a big game after putting up 64 yards of combined offense in the first quarter on seven runs and a pair of receptions.
That man Amari Cooper!: Wide receiver Amari Cooper had himself a day as he finished with eight receptions for 113 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Today was Cooper’s fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season, the most by a Cleveland wide receiver since Jarvis Landry had four 100-yard receiving games in 2018.
Welcome home, DPJ!: Wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones enjoyed his homecoming in Detroit by catching five passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. That is now seven consecutive games for Peoples-Jones with more than 50 receiving yards.
First-half Jacoby Brissett: In making his penultimate start before Deshaun Watson takes over as QB1, Brissett had a nice first half by completing 13 of 18 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown. The only real blemish came when he fumbled a snap from third-string center Hjalte Froholdt that led to a turnover when the Browns really needed to build on their 10-3 lead. But how much of that was Brissett’s fault and how much can be attributed to Froholdt being tossed into the game is open for discussion.
Brissett finished with 342 passing yards, which was his first 300-yard game since 2019, but the offense went 40 game minutes between scores, so it was kind of much ado about nothing.
Cleveland’s first-quarter (plus) defense: The Browns got off to a hot start on defense by holding the Bills to just 15 yards of total offense in the first quarter - their lowest total in three seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Info. They held it together even after the turnover as they limited the Bills to just six points through the first four series of the game.
Browns defense over the last two-plus quarters: Once the Bills offense got in gear, there was little that Cleveland’s defense could do to slow it down as Buffalo rolled up 342 yards of offense over the final three quarters.
The Bills picked up a touchdown before halftime on a five-yard pass from quarterback Josh Allen to wide receiver Stephon Diggs, who likely has not been that wide open since his youth football days. From there, the Bills scored on all five of their second-half possessions, outside of the final one that ended the game with a kneel-down.
Browns run defense: Another week, another team having its way running the ball on the Browns. This time it was the Bills rolling up 171 rushing yards as both Devin Singletary and James Cook posted 86 rushing yards. Do we need to say those were season highs for both Singletary and Cook? As a good Browns fan you are paying attention, so we do not.
Tight end follies: The Browns were up 7-3 early in the second quarter and were in a good position to extend the lead as they had a first-and-goal at the Buffalo eight-yard-line. But after running back Nick Chubb lost six yards on first down, tight ends Harrison Bryant (on second down) and Pharaoh Brown (third down) dropped what should have been touchdown passes. Cleveland settled for a field goal and then watched as the defense gave up 25 consecutive points to the Bills.
Ethan Pocic’s injury: Cleveland lost starting center Ethan Pocic to a knee injury on the first series of the game and had to turn to third-string center Hjalte Froholdt for the rest of the way. Froholdt certainly tried his best, but it did not go well as Pro Football Focus highlights:
Injuries forced a reshuffle in Cleveland’s offensive line, with Hjalte Froholdt playing center. And things did not go well for him. He allowed multiple quick pressures, had some wayward snaps and didn’t make up for it with his run blocking.
Run game deactivated: It never helps the run game when the defense can’t stop allowing points, but it was a very rough day for the Browns on Sunday as Nick Chubb finished with just 19 yards on 14 carries and the Browns as a team finished with just 80 yards and a 3.1 yards per carry average.
Milk Bones – Does it really matter anymore?
The return of the Chief: Tight end David Njoku was back in the lineup after missing the previous two games with an ankle injury and got everyone excited by hurdling a defender, but still only finished with two catches for 17 yards, which is not exactly elite tight end numbers.
Ring that Bell: Rookie wide receiver David Bell upped his season receptions by 50 percent after catching four passes for 22 yards, so he has that going for him, which is nice.
How many wins do you see the Browns getting the rest of the season?