The Browns took the field against the Detroit Lions on Thursday night in front of a crowd of 58,313. After a bit of a slow start offensively, they picked up where they left off against last week with Cleveland’s first unit outscoring Detroit 17-3 en route to a 24-6 win.
The night was unfortunately marked by injuries for the Browns throughout.
Brandon Weeden misfired on his first three passes, though one was nullified by a penalty and the Browns were shut down on their first possession. From there, Weeden was sharp hitting eight of his next ten passes. Trent Richardson helped provide a spark for the Browns on their second drive with a nine yard run to the left, and a big 17 yard burst to the right.
Unfortunately for the Browns, guard Jason Pinkston was injured on the play with DT Nick Fairly pushing a blocker onto the back of Pinkston’s legs. Pinkston was helped off the field with an ankle sprain and was not able to put much weight on his right leg. The Browns said x-rays were negative.
The drive stalled on Detroit’s 25 yard line and Brandon Bogotay hit a 43 yard field goal for the first score of the game.
Meanwhile, the defense was doing their part. Playing without Calvin Johnson (knee bruise), the Lions weren’t able to muster anything in their first three possessions, going three and out each time. The Browns defense held Detroit to one first down in the first quarter, spanning four drives.
On Cleveland’s third possession, Brandon Weeden led the team on a four play touchdown drive, aided by a roughing the passer play on Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh. Weeden hit Josh Gordon with a pretty touch pass deep down the right sideline for a 34 yard gain, and then fired a laser to Jordan Cameron for a ten yard touchdown. Brandon Bogotay punched the extra point through.
Their third drive was more impressive. The Browns marched downfield on an eight play, 91 yard drive with big plays on passes from Weeden to Gordon (23 yards) and Cameron (27 yards), and a big run from Dion Lewis off left tackle for 31 yards. Weeden hit Cameron again on second and goal for a five yard touchdown pass.
The injury bug wasn’t done biting the Browns however. First round pick Barkevious Mingo jogged to the locker room in the second quarter with an undisclosed rib injury. It was later revealed that Mingo bruised his lung and was kept in the hospital overnight as a precaution. Tight End Gary Barnidge injured his shoulder in the first half as well.
Detroit managed to put a drive together at the end of the second quarter. It was a 14 play, 47 yard drive concluding in a 47 yard field goal. The Browns could have stopped Detroit, but Joe Haden missed a tackle that allowed Reggie Bush to get a first down on a third and five.
The starting units played the majority of the first half for the Browns. Trent Richardson played the first two series, rushing six times for 33 yards, an average of 5.5 yards per carry. Brandon Weeden gave way to Jason Campbell after four series, leading the Browns on two touchdown drives and a field goal. He finished with 117 yards passing on eight of twelve passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
“We started out a little slow.” Weeden said at halftime. “I think I was one for four to start in the first drive, but came back the second, third and fourth drives and did some good things. Offensively, (we) had some nice runs. Trent (Richardson) and (Dion) Lewis had some great runs. It was a good start for us. We have to keep building off of it and continue to build go forward.”
The second half was a bit more sloppy as you would expect, with yet another injury. Running back Dion Lewis fractured his fibula on a third down catch.
Jason Campbell played the entire third quarter and into the fourth throwing a touchdown pass to running back Brandon Jackson to push the lead to 24-3. The Browns weren’t done with injuries though. Kicker Brandon Bogotay, who looked good on all his kick-offs and place kicks suffered a groin injury.
Head coach Rob Chudzinski said he was pleased with the performance of the team.
“It was a tough night from an injury perspective, obviously. We made some strides from a performance standpoint. I was happy and pleased with the performance. That’s the game. Guys get injured and other guys get opportunities and have to step up. That’s what good teams are able to do and find guys who make good with their opportunities. That’s what we will have to do.”
The Browns will go back to work this week to see who will step up for the injured players.
(Photo: Rick Grayshock/WFNY)