It turns out that there is no luck to be had in the U.K. either. The Cleveland Browns traveled to London and lost their eighth game of the season, falling to the Minnesota Vikings, 33-16. The Browns enter the bye week still looking for their first win of the season at a putrid 0-8 record. Cleveland held the lead after the first and second quarters, but the Vikings capitalized on mistakes and penalties, putting the Browns away in the fourth quarter.
The Browns played their best first quarter of the season. The defense started it off with a big turnover on the first drive of the game. Carl Nassib was able to get his hands up in the passing lane to tip the pass of Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, allowing linebacker Joe Schobert to pick off the pass and give the Browns a great opportunity to score the game’s first points. On the ensuing drive, running back Isaiah Crowell rushed for 26 yards to the end zone to give the Browns their first first quarter lead this season—their second lead at any point of the season. The Browns defense played solidly for the rest of the quarter, allowing just a field goal the rest of the quarter, leading 6-3 after one.
The second quarter was scoreless until both teams turned up the scoring late in the quarter. The Vikings took the lead when they put together a seven-play, 60-yard drive that was capped off by a touchdown to Vikings receiver Adam Thielen in which the Browns secondary suffered a blown coverage. Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer followed with a big eight-play, 82-yard drive, ending in a touchdown on a quarterback sneak. Kizer had two big passes on the drive, a 38-yard pass to receiver Ricardo Louis and a 38-yard pass to Crowell. The Browns lessened the gleam of the first half with a bad two-minute defensive stand that allowed the Vikings to notch a field goal before halftime, making the Browns halftime lead, 13-12.
The second half started off with a big mistake by the Browns as Crowell fumbled on the team’s first drive of the half, giving the Vikings great field position to take the lead. The Browns defense did not bend, however, and limited the Vikings to a field goal. On the following kickoff, running back Matthew Dayes returned it 71 yards, giving what should have been scoring position, but the Browns offense stalled and kicker Zane Gonzalez missed an easy field goal. After another defensive stop, the Browns offense put together a nice drive to regain the lead with a short 23-yard field goal by Gonzalez. The Vikings rebounded from that drive and regained the lead after an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive (and a two-point conversion). The Browns trailed 23-16 after three quarters.
The Vikings started off the fourth with another touchdown drive that moved their lead to 30-16. The drive was aided my multiple penalties, which allowed Minnesota to go 84 yards in nine plays. The score put the final nail in the coffin for the Browns’ chances of winning as the offense continued to sputter. The Vikings added a field goal in the quarter, finishing the game off with 33-16 victory over the Browns.
The Browns game was once again marred by penalties and turnovers by the Browns. The defense alone committed five penalties for 74 yards, while the offense turned the ball over two times. Cleveland will continue to lose because of these undisciplined mistakes that hurt any sort of momentum the team tries to have during games. The mistakes can be blamed on coaching and the youth of the roster, but the lack of improvement in this area falls primarily on the coaches who have yet to highlight this and focus on stopping them.
The game sets the tone for what is sure to be a big week for the organization.
The Browns are once again faced with a season without a win at the halfway point, a situation that may lead to some changes. At times, the Browns have looked worse than last season where the team was in the first year of the new regime’s rebuild. The blame can be cast throughout the organization, from coaches and coordinators to front office and ownership. Head coach Hue Jackson has been a horrible play caller, player developer, and game manager, amongst other things. He has suffered from a lack of talent, but the team upgraded the roster this past offseason and the results are the same.
Luckily for Browns fans, the team enters the bye week after this latest loss. The team enters the bye 0-8 and in a situation where change could be imminent throughout the organization. The bye week will not have a game, though there should be some newsworthy stories throughout the week. When the Browns get back to the field in two weeks, they will be in Detroit to face off against the Lions.