The Browns weren’t going to win this game on this day with Brandon Weeden. Despite some moments that indicated the Browns might have a good chance to win their fourth in a row, Weeden unleashed one of the worst passes ever to help Detroit seal the victory. Weeden was getting some pressure in the pocket. He missed his chance to throw and got in-between being in and out of the pocket when he tossed an unbelievably stupid and awkward shovel pass. The universal sign of a bad shovel pass? One that has lots of air underneath it. That decision led to DeAndre Levy’s second interception of the game. It wasn’t just a bad play or an unlucky play. It was downright embarrassing for the Browns and their second-year quarterback. It also gave the Lions the ball back with good field position and a chance to ice the game. They were up 24-17 and did just that giving Joseph Fauria a third touchdown pass and the Lions an insurmountable lead. It was also the final score in the game sending the Browns home a 31-17 loser.
It was encouraging to see the Browns carry a 17-7 lead into halftime. After going down 7-0 the Cleveland Browns responded with 17 unanswered points in the second quarter. Anytime you can have a quarter like that, you have to be elated. With so many questions surrounding Brandon Weeden and the offense coming into the game – and also after a slow start – it was quite a turnaround from quarter one to quarter two.
That being said, it was a little bit surprising because it didn’t feel like the Browns were playing well on offense overall in the first half. There were some miscues between Weeden and his receivers including dropped balls. For a second straight week, Josh Gordon dropped his opening opportunity and again, it looked like it could have been a big gainer. That made the first-half score that much more encouraging. To not play well, and still end up with a lead of more than a touchdown is nice.
The Browns defense started off the second half pretty poorly giving the Lions a TD on a 72 yard drive featuring big plays by Reggie Bush. Bush had a 39 yard run for one big chunk, and then took a screen pass 18 yards to finish the drive off a few plays later. The Browns did tighten up in the next drive.
The Lions were again moving the ball. After 75 yards, Buster Skrine batted a Matthew Stafford pass into the air where Tashaun Gipson was waiting to intercept it in the end zone. Gipson returned the ball all the way out to the Cleveland 30.
The third quarter, however, was abysmal for the Browns’ offense. The team failed to record a first down, let alone a touchdown. Brandon Weeden started to hold the ball a bit. The last play of the third quarter in particular, Weeden took an all-too-familiar sack for a nine yard loss to make it 4th and 19. Weeden didn’t have any play-action and yet still didn’t hit the safer crossing route to Davone Bess as he waiting for the longer routes to develop with Josh Gordon and Greg Little. They might have developed, but Weeden ended up on his back and the Browns ended up punting.
The Browns went down for the first time since being down 7-0 as the Lions threw a second TD to Fauria. Then the Browns started self-inflicting wounds. Brandon Weeden was guilty of grounding on first down to make it 2nd and 20. Then they false-started to make it 2nd and 25. On 2nd and 25, the Browns looked like they completed a 27-yard pass to Greg Little, but it was ruled incomplete. The Browns challenged, but missed that too. With 9:30 left in the game, the Browns had to punt the ball away after a dump play to Chris Ogbonnaya got back a few yards. At that point in the game, the Browns only had one first down in the second half.
This Browns team is average to slightly above average, but they didn’t have a very good game. They made lots of mistakes from turnovers to penalties. They also had some bad luck including some referee decisions that didn’t go their way. Ultimately this team can and will likely play better than they did against Detroit, but it feels like a missed opportunity as opposed to the Browns getting beaten by a superior team.