The Cleveland Browns kept it interesting, but mistakes on both sides of the ball conspired to lead the Browns to a loss against the New York Giants.
The Cleveland Browns have possessed the ability to surprise people for years now.
Such was the case on Sunday against the New York Giants.
It wasn’t so much that the Browns lost to the Giants, 27-13, after all, that has become a weekly occurrence for a team that is now 0-12 on the season and has not won a game for almost a year.
But rather it was the new, and not so new, ways that the Browns continue to find ways to lose a game.
A week after gaining just 209 yards of total offense, the Browns actually out gained the Giants (343 yards to 296), had more first downs (21-13) and won the time of possession battle (33:51-26:09).
None of that mattered, however, thanks to a handful of big moments when the Browns did the kind of things that they always do.
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Cleveland had two costly turnovers that led directly to 14 points by the Giants, which creates a major hurdle for an offense that can’t find the end zone on a consistent basis.
The first came on an Isaiah Crowell fumble in the second quarter that gave the Giants the ball on Cleveland’s 31-yard line. It only took New York two plays to score the game’s opening touchdown, as Eli Manning hit Dwayne Harris for a 13-yard touchdown pass.
The second came early in the fourth quarter with the Browns trailing 14-6 and looking to tie the score. Quarterback Josh McCown was hit on a blitz (thanks to the poor play of guard Alvin Bailey, who was in for an injured John Greco), and Jason Pierre-Paul intercepted the pass and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown.
Cleveland’s 12th loss of the season, and 15th in a row dating back to last season, seemed like a lock, but McCown quickly drove the Browns down the field and hit wide receiver Corey Coleman with a 21-yard touchdown pass.
Inexplicably, the Browns only needed a defensive stop to have a chance at a game-tying drive.
That task was too much for the defense, however, as the Browns allowed the Giants to quickly move down the field as Manning capped off a six-play, 73-yard touchdown drive with a four-yard touchdown pass to Odell Beckham Jr. – who was being covered for some reason by linebacker Christian Kirksey. (Don’t ask).
That defensive breakdown, along with one at the end of the first half when the Browns allowed the Giants to go 69 yards in four plays and just 30 seconds for a touchdown, were enough to seal the Cleveland’s latest loss.
It also overshadow what may have been the defense’s best performance of the season, at least in terms of yardage as Cleveland held the Giants to just 296 yards of total offense and just four-of-13 on third down. (Just don’t look to closely at Manning’s three touchdown passes.)
But it wasn’t enough because, in this season that somehow still has four games remaining, nothing is ever enough.
Offensively, McCown finished the game 25-of-43 for 322 yards, but took seven sacks, lost two fumbles and came up near the end of the game holding his wrist.
Terrelle Pryor led the way with six receptions for 131 yards – including a long of 54 yards – while Coleman added his third touchdown of the game.
The running game was once again absent, as the Browns only managed 58 rushing yards and 2.8 yards per carry as they were “led” by Isaiah Crowell’s 44 yards. On the bright side, those 44 yards broke a four-game streak (and six-of-seven) where Crowell rushed for less than 40 yards, so if that kind of production excites you, you’ll have something to hang your hat on this week.
After 12 weeks, the Browns have finally reached their bye week. After taking some time off they will be back at FirstEnergy Stadium for a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 11.