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Browns don’t find a spark among lightning delay, lose 17-15 to Commanders in preseason

Deshaun Watson played one series, getting the offense down to the 1 yard line.

Washington Commanders v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns are now 1-1 in the preseason, falling at home to the Washington Commanders by a final score of 17-15. Let’s get to a recap of the action.

The game was delayed by 1 hour and 16 minutes due to lightning, which was accompanied by a downpour of rain as well. The game finally kicked off at 8:46 pm with the Washington Commanders getting the first offensive series. After finding some traction moving the ball, a holding penalty made it 1st-and-20 for Washington, and then CB Mike Ford and DT Maurice Hurst combined for a sack to set up 2nd-and-28. That eventually led to a punt, with QB Deshaun Watson and company going to work.

Watson began the drive with quick strikes to WR Elijah Moore and TE Jordan Akins for 6 and 5 yards, respectively. Then, an end around to Moore went for 18 yards, and multiple scrambles by Watson helped set the team up with 1st-and-goal from the 10-yard line.

A 6-yard run by RB Demetric Felton looked to get into the end zone, but the officials marked him down at the 1 yard line. On 3rd-and-goal from the 1, Felton was stuffed for no gain. On 4th-and-goal from the 1, the Browns went for it — and RB John Kelly was denied for a loss of four yards and a turnover on downs.

The field position still paid off for Cleveland. The defense forced Washington into a 3rd-and-10 situation from the 5-yard line, and then when QB Sam Howell was in the end zone trying to throw the ball, the rush by DE Za’Darius Smith was too much for OL Andrew Wylie to handle, so he committed a hold for a safety. That gave the Browns a 2-0 lead near the end of the first quarter.

Watson’s day was done, and in the second quarter, it was all Washington. Howell’s next drive spanned 10 plays for 80 yards, capped off with a 26-yard strike (and a great catch) to WR Jahan Dotson for a touchdown to give Washington a 7-2 lead.

After QB Josh Dobbs went three-and-out (with the help of a drop by rookie WR Cedric Tillman), it was time for QB Jacoby Brissett came in to lead the Commanders. He was dealing left and right, driving Washington right down the field and scrambling for a 12-yard touchdown to make it a 14-2 game.

Dobbs was trying to lead a scoring drive to end the half, but threw a bad interception to keep the score 14-2 at the half:

Cleveland got the ball to begin the third quarter, and it was QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s time to shine again. He was able to orchestrate a good drive again, but for the second time in the game, short yardage situations burned the Browns. On 3rd-and-1 at the Washington 25 yard line, Kelly was stuffed for a loss of 3 yards. Head coach Kevin Stefanski sent K Cade York out for a 46 yard field goal attempt, but it was no good as he kept it wide right.

Brissett got the Commanders in range for a 49-yard field goal, making it a 17-2 game with 4:11 remaining in the third quarter. Thompson-Robinson continued to provide a spark on his next drive, this time targeting his backup tight ends often to move down the field. Near the red zone, Thompson-Robinson found WR Austin Watkins for a 10-yard gain, and then hit WR David Bell over the middle for a 7-yard touchdown to make it a 17-9 game.

The defense did their job by forcing a three-and-out, and at the start of the fourth quarter, it was QB Kellen Mond’s turn to lead the offense. A few plays into the drive, RB Hassan Hall fumbled with Washington recovering at the Browns’ 34 yard line. Just as it looked like Washington was going to put the game away, S Ronnie Hickman stole a ball away from the receiver, intercepting it for his second pick of the night!

Unfortunately, Mond couldn’t do much with it, and the Browns punted with just over six minutes to go in the game. The defense came up with three stops while burning all three timeouts to force a punt with four minutes remaining in the game. Felton fair caught the punt at the 22 yard line.

Mond extended the drive on 4th-and-6 by finding Watkins on a 19-yard pass down the middle, getting the ball to the Washington 37 yard line at the two-minute warning. At this point, the best Cleveland can hope for is a tie, needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion. After the break, Mond found TE Miller Forristall for a 17-yard gain — and then Ron Rivera of Washington called a timeout, hoping to perhaps save time for a drive of his own if necessary. Mond finished the drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to WR Mike Harley Jr, making it a 17-15 game. On the two-point conversion, Mond tried to buy extended time when no one was open, but his late throw to Watkins fell incomplete.

Rather than trying an onside kick in the preseason, Stefanski had York boot it through the end zone. That is probably for the best — onside kicks are hard to convert anyway, so if you do have a good one planned, you don’t want to waste it in the preseason. Washington kneeled it out from there.

Quick Hitters

  • QB Deshaun Watson: 3-of-3 for 12 yards. 3 rushes, 20 yards.
  • QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson: 9-of-10 for 102 yards, 1 TD. 3 rushes, 11 yards.
  • QB Kellen Mond: 7-of-12 for 79 yards, 1 TD. 3 rushes, 16 yards.
  • WR Austin Watkins: 6 catches, 71 yards.
  • WR David Bell: 3 catches, 33 yards, 1 TD.
  • TE Miller Forristall: 4 catches, 66 yards.
  • S Ronnie Hickman: 2 interceptions. 4 tackles.