A controversial early 4th down play ended up costing the Cleveland Browns points but they overcame this in the second half
It was early in the game between the Cleveland Browns and Washington Commanders and the Browns were trying to take a commanding lead. They were up 3-0 and had gotten the ball back after another defensive stop.
The offense was driving the ball in part thanks to their running back Nick Chubb, who had made a couple of carries, including a brilliant rumble of 35 yards through the teeth of the Washington defense. That run got the Browns down to the nine-yard line and facing a first and goal.
It certainly looked and felt like Cleveland was going to take the ball in for a touchdown. Instead, quarterback Deshaun Watson took a sack twice in the next series of plays. They faced a fourth and seven and head coach Kevin Stefanski decided to kick another field goal and go up 6-0.
The field goal was good, and all seemed well. However, there was a penalty called on the Commanders on the kick attempt as they were offsides. So, the analytics gurus on the team decided to go for a fourth down and three instead of taking the points that were just gift-wrapped to them.
Despite the fact that nothing was working for the offense at that point in the game other than Chubb’s big runs and that Watson had just been sacked twice, the team proceeded to call a play that got Watson stuffed short of the goal line.
The first half was made worse for Cleveland when a short time later Washington put together a 21-play, 96-yard drive that lasted almost 12 minutes and put them ahead at the break 7-3.
However, after all that negativity in the first half of the game, the players executed much better, and the coaches made some key adjustments in the second half that led them to take the lead back early in the third quarter. Cleveland started controlling the rest of the game with good play calls and a defensive unit that played really well to win 24-10.
There are always adjustments made throughout an NFL game. Sometimes though the execution of those plays is really what a win comes down to in the league. The Browns coaches, however, did start to use even more play action in the second half and used Watson’s ability to scramble to keep the Washington defense back on their heels.
Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper, who had a breakout second half where he got three passes, two of which went for touchdowns and totaled 105 receiving, discussed after the game the adjustments that the players and coaches made in the video shared next.
Defensively, the Browns finished with three takeaways, as safety Grant Delpit got two interceptions and Denzel Ward grabbed another. The team was also moving players like defensive end Myles Garrett around the line of scrimmage, even having him be more of a linebacker at times.
Cleveland defensive coordinator Joe Woods was also trying to blitz more as well from all angles. This allowed for the Browns to record three sacks on the afternoon including Garrett getting 1.5 to give him 15 sacks on the season and defensive end Chase Winovich recording his first as a Brown.
After the ugly first half and the questionable decision to go for it on the fourth down play-call, it was a good sign for the team that the coaches were able to make some adjustments and that the players bought into those to help the squad get the win.