The Cleveland Browns came up short once again, falling to the Tennessee Titans, 12-9, in overtime at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns defense was impressive and pretty much the only thing that kept the team in the game. The defense was able to hold Marcus Mariota and the Titans to just 12 points and 269 total yards of offense. But, the inept offense and the constant problem at quarterback doomed the team from its first win of the season. However, the biggest loss did not come in the final score, but in the third quarter as the Browns lost left tackle Joe Thomas with an injury.
The first quarter started off like almost every other Browns game. On the opening kickoff, the Browns were called for an offsides penalty. Following the kickoff, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota led the Tennessee offense down the field in quick fashion, but was stalemated when they crossed the 50-yard line, causing them to settle for a field goal. The Browns offense had a less then impressive first drive, but after the Browns defense stopped the Titans on their second drive of the game, the Cleveland offense showed some hope on their second drive of the game to finish off the first quarter. The Browns trailed after one quarter, 3-0, but the offense looked to be starting to gel late in the quarter.
But in Browns fashion, the promising drive was derailed by a slew of penalties that ended up putting the offense in a 3rd-and-25 situation, all but ending any promise of getting points. But, the Browns defense stepped up following the missed opportunity by the offense. On the ensuing Titans drive, the Browns forced a fumble from Titans tight end Delanie Walker to give the Browns offense a short field at Tennessee’s 40-yard line. The offense was able to move into the redzone, but Cleveland had to settle for a Zane Gonzalez 31-yard field goal, tying the game up at three. The Browns defense once again showed their bend but not break defense, holding the Titans to a field goal in the redzone after withstanding a six-minute drive. With under two minutes to go in the half, the Browns put together an impressive drive, but once again was stopped by a big mistake. Kizer overthrew a pass in scoring territory and was picked off to end any sort of opportunity for points. The Browns went into half trailing the Titans, 6-3.
The third quarter was newsworthy to say the least. After throwing his second pick of the game, the Browns benched Kizer and put in second year quarterback Cody Kessler for his first snaps of the season. On his first drive under center, Kessler led the Browns to a game tying 47-yard field goal by Gonzalez. But what might be the biggest news of the quarter was the injury to left tackle Joe Thomas. Thomas injured his tricep in the scoring drive, causing him to end his consecutive snap streak at 10,363, which spanned 11 seasons and 167 games. He was later ruled out for the rest of the game. Even at the end of all these tough moments for the Browns, the team entered the fourth quarter tied at six against the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans opened the fourth quarter by taking a 9-6 lead with a Ryan Succop 46-yard field goal. The fourth quarter saw a lot of missed opportunities for both teams to try and take the game, but the game remained a 9-6 Titans lead going into the two minute warning with the ball in the Browns hands. Cleveland was able to put together a solid drive that set up a 54-yard field goal for Gonzalez. Continuing his string day, Gonzalez drilled the kick to tie the game up at nine with 51 seconds left in regulation. The Browns defense held, moving the game to overtime.
The Browns won the toss and chose to receive the kick. But, the offense sputtered and went three and out on the opening drive of overtime, making the game sudden death going forward. After both teams came up empty on the next two drives, the Titans started their second drive on their own 46-yard line. The Browns defense remained tough, but the Titans were able to set a 47-yard field goal for the game. Succop came and nailed the kick, giving the Titans the 12-9 overtime victory.
The Browns defense was a real bright spot for Cleveland as they played their hearts out to keep the team in striking distance to win the game. If it weren’t for the defense, the Browns would have been run off the field and completely destroyed. The defense has a lot of nice pieces to build on and is something to look forward to with this franchise.
In the end, the Browns once again came up short, but the real storyline in my mind is the loss of Joe Thomas. Thomas has been the only constant for this struggling franchise, showing toughness and greatness through all the suck. It was tough to watch Thomas on the ground in pain and seeing the Browns play with someone other than the future Hall of Famer at left tackle. The unbelievable consecutive snap streak is over, but what a streak it was. It was one of the most impressive playing streaks in all of sports. Hopefully, Thomas will be healthy enough to play next week and start a new streak.
The Browns will continue their journey of finding win No. 1 next week when they travel across the pond to London to face the Minnesota Vikings. Just a reminder for those who want to torture their Sunday that the Browns kickoff is at 9:30 A.M. next week! Rise and shine.