The Cleveland Browns looked to avoid having their first two-game losing streak for the 2023 NFL season when they took on the Los Angeles Rams in Week 13. The Browns entered the week clearly in the playoff picture while the Rams were trying to claw their way back into position.
Injuries before and during the game, along with some key mistakes, ended up being too much for Cleveland to overcome leading to a 36-19 Browns loss.
It was a great start to the game for the Browns and new starting quarterback Joe Flacco. Cleveland drove 75 yards on nine plays with a wide-open touchdown from Flacco to RB Jerome Ford:
The defense was able to get a stop to force a field goal on the Rams first drive before Matthew Stafford perfectly placed a football to rookie WR Puka Nacua for a 70-yard touchdown:
With Anthony Walker Jr. returning from injury, Sione Takitaki was in as the middle linebacker and just couldn’t get a deep enough drop in that coverage.
Flacco and the offense could only muster 31 total yards over their next two possession in the first quarter while the defense let the Rams drive once again late in the first quarter...
... but kicker Lucas Havrisik missed a field goal wide right to start the second quarter.
Havrisik was in training camp with Cleveland but couldn’t beat out Cade York. The Rams signed him off of the Browns practice squad.
Early in the game, Cleveland was not able to get traction with their rushing attack. Through five possessions, the team had 10 yards rushing on nine attempts including Ford’s four carries for negative eight yards.
Amari Cooper’s second drop in the game ended a second-quarter drive. Cooper took a big hit after the drop and walked off with trainers. Shortly after that:
Amari Cooper to locker room.— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) December 3, 2023
On the next play, Nacua left the game after a first-down catch. The talented rookie receiver came down hard on his arm/shoulder near the sideline. According to the broadcast, he was crying while being walked off the field to the locker room with trainers.
A “butt cheek” reception helped the Browns tie the game late in the second quarter with a field goal a few plays later. The video is worth rewatching:
pause... ain't no way we heard this right— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 3, 2023
1 cheek = 2 feet pic.twitter.com/f3wfKk0fit
Getting the ball back with just over two minutes left, Los Angeles drove down the field for a field goal. Somehow, the Rams ran 13 plays in 2:06. The two-minute warning and a timeout helped but that is a ton of plays in a very short amount of time.
As halftime ended, we learned that Cooper was ruled out but Nacua was back in the game. Thankfully, Stafford’s perfect deep throw to Nacua was dropped on their first possession leading toa LA punt.
In our comment section (this recap is written as the game is going on), there was some confidence the Browns could get the victory depending on how that first Rams possession went:
When the Browns get the ball back, Flacco made just enough plays despite a great TE David Njoku catch and run being called back because he barely touched out of bounds before the pass. Cleveland’s offense had to overcome another penalty but was able to with Flacco hitting Elijah Moore twice in a row (the first didn’t count because of the penalty).
The Browns offense stalled out but tied the game 13-13 to finish off a 15-play, 79-yard drive that took over 7:30 off the clock. Hopkins’ field goal ties Phil Dawson’s season high in makes:
After that 24-yard field goal, Dustin Hopkins has tied Phil Dawson (2008) for the most FGs by a @Browns K in a single season with 30.— Dan Murphy (@DMurph_BrownsPR) December 3, 2023
Los Angeles’ next possession was a slow steady march down the field despite three false starts. Stafford hit WR Demarcus Robinson with a short seven-yard touchdown pass to push the lead back up to 20-13 with less than a minute left in the third quarter.
A few changes on offense, including involving play-action bootleg, pushed Cleveland’s next possession over midfield quickly. The Browns were able to sprinkle in a few key runs. OL Dewand Jones even signaled to the sideline to keep it going after Kareem Hunt got a first down.
Pierre Strong took advantage of his first two carries of the game with 20 yards including getting inside the 10-yard line. On the next play, Flacco hit TE Harrison Bryant for an eight-yard Cleveland touchdown.
Then Hopkins missed the extra point.
One of our community members shared this interesting stat on Hopkins’ miss:
Hopkins is hopeful he gets to play firefighter once again this week.
The Browns defense got a quick stop but Flacco just launched a poor pass on the offense’s first play. The deep ball was easily picked off by former Cleveland safety John Johnson III.
JJ3 was cut by the Browns this offseason but still costs a big chunk of change against the salary cap next year as well:
John Johnson III counts $8.85 million on the Browns’ salary cap next season.— Zac Jackson (@AkronJackson) December 4, 2023
The Rams quickly put more points on the board with a WR Cooper Kupp touchdown reception.
Cleveland’s offense wasn’t able to get anything going on the next drive because a questionable false start call on center Ethan Pocic for moving the football before the snap ruined a 3rd and inches. That included an interesting interaction on the sideline:
Stefanski was yelling at the official “we talked about this before the game” so that’s weird— Dawgs By Nature (@DawgsByNature) December 4, 2023
Los Angeles put their finishing touches on the game following the Browns turnover on downs with RB Kyren Williams rushing touchdown.
To finish off the game, the Rams safetied Flacco with 36 seconds left in the game leading to the final score of 36-19.
Up next, the Browns travel back to Cleveland to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- QB Joe Flacco: 23/44, 254 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
- RB Jerome Ford: 9 carries, 19 yards
- RB Kareem Hunt: 12 carries, 48 yards
- WR Amari Cooper: 3 receptions, 34 yards before leaving with an injury
- WR Elijah Moore: 4 receptions, 53 yards
- TE David Njoku: 2 receptions, 17 yards
- Defense: Zero sacks, forced turnovers
Share your thoughts in the comment section below! Community members will have GIFs/Memes/Pics to share with you there too