Browns Week 16 instant reactions: Head-scratching play calls lead to defeat

Browns, Kevin Stefanski. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)
Browns, Kevin Stefanski. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns are out of the playoffs as they fell to 6-9 with a one-score loss at home against the New Orleans Saints

At six degrees at kickoff, this was the coldest game in Cleveland since January of 1981. And as expected, the cold had an impact on the game early on. Both the Cleveland Browns and the New Orleans Saints had trouble keeping drives going as there were five drives in a row that ended in a punt.

That was until Grant Delpit made a play as he picked off a pass that was intended for Juwan Johnson. Andy Dalton made a decent throw but the ball went off Johnson’s hands and Delpit ended up taking it away, giving the offense the ball on the New Orleans 30.

Cleveland took advantage as they scored the first touchdown of the day when Deshaun Watson ran it in from 12 yards out.

On the following drive, after the defense forced a punt, Watson again drove the offense down the field. One of the best plays on that drive was a dart on fourth-and-five as he hit Amari Cooper for a first down.

Cleveland still had to settle for three as Cooper dropped what would have been a touchdown as Watson hit him in the back of the end zone on third down.

Browns fall apart after a 10-0 start

With a 10-0 lead, the Browns’ defense then had a couple of gaffes as they surrendered a field goal just before the half and then allowed a nine-play, 67-yard drive to start the third quarter which ended in an eight-yard touchdown from Taysom Hill to tie it up at 10.

A four-yard touchdown from Alvin Kamara made it 17-10 and that would be the final score.

15. 10. 53. Final. 17

Cleveland’s offense was unable to score despite several tries. The defense even tightened up down the stretch but they failed to deliver.

Browns head-scratching plays lead to desperation

Cleveland had a shot to tie it up at the end and Watson put a couple of passes on the money in the end zone, — but each was dropped.

First, Donovan Peoples-Jones couldn’t make a catch in the back of the end zone, and then David Njoku let one slip through his hands on third-and-10. Watson showed off his arm but his teammates couldn’t help him out on either play, leading to an all-or-nothing fourth-and-10.

That final play was a mess as Watson was sacked by Carl Granderson, ending the home team’s shot at a win — and eliminating them from playoff contention.

Having said all that, there were several calls from Kevin Stefanski that left fans scratching their heads. Deep passes on second and third down late in the second half and a throw down the field on fourth down from their own territory also made little sense.

Stefanski continues to struggle with figuring out the feel of the game and much of this loss is on his shoulders.