Yep, still the Browns: Cleveland loses to Green Bay in OT, 27-21

The Cleveland Browns lost again, adding to the list of losses incurred in an interesting and devastating fashion. The Browns lost at home to the Green Bay Packers in overtime, 27-21, after leading 21-7 going into the fourth quarter.

The game brought an array of emotions, from “Wow this looks like a different team” to “Well, I guess it’s the same team after all.” In the end, the Browns outplayed the Packers, but the they somehow lost in a way that is different than before.

“It is unfortunate,” said head coach Hue Jackson following the game. “Our guys – as I always say every week, it is  a broken record – they fight hard. They do a lot of good things, and we do things that don’t give us a chance to finish football games.”

The Browns started off the game playing like, well, the Browns. On the Packers’ first offensive drive, Green Bay drove 74 yards in 11 plays. They converted a fake punt and a fourth down play to extend the drive. Quarterback Brett Hundley capitalized on a blown coverage by the Browns defense, completing a 30-yard touchdown pass to the wide, and I mean wide, open Jamaal Williams.

Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon would turn the momentum around on the Browns’ opening series. Gordon helped the Browns answer with their own touchdown by catching two passes for 56 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown reception to finish the drive. The Browns and Packers both followed their opening series touchdowns with their own three-and-outs. So after one quarter of play, the Browns and Packers were tied up at seven.

The Browns defense continued their strong play after the mistake-filled first drive of the game, forcing another punt by the Packers. The offense returned to their strong play from drive No. 1 after the Packers punt. In 12 plays and just under seven minutes, the Browns moved 70 yards to the end zone to take the lead over Green Bay. Hue Jackson called a great drive, balancing the series with seven passes and five runs plays. Jackson called a nifty shovel pass that ended up being a seven-yard touchdown pass from Kizer to running back Duke Johnson.

After another strong defensive stand by the Browns defense, the Browns offense took over the ball with just over two minutes to go in the half. Kizer led a promising drive that looked to be close to put some points on the board before the half, but a no call and an interception ended any sort of chance of more points. Kizer threw a deep pass to Gordon at the goal line and it looked like he was contacted early by the Packer defender, but no flag was thrown. A few plays later, Kizer took the wrong read and did not see the deep safety, throwing the interception to Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Nevertheless, the Browns took the 14-7 lead over Green Bay into the locker room at half.

The half started off a little shaky for Cleveland. The offense went three-an-out on the opening series. The Packers put together a really promising drive. Green Bay had driven 71 yards on 12 plays in just around six minutes, but were faced with a 4th-and-1 inside the red zone on the ten-yard line. A broken play by Hundley helped Browns defensive lineman Caleb Brantley get into the backfield and stop the play and turn the ball over on downs. It was one of the biggest plays of the game.

Kizer and the offense took advantage of the big momentum play by the defense. In nine plays, the Browns drove 88 yards to pay dirt to extend their lead to 21-7. The series was catapulted by running back Isaiah Crowell, who pulled off two big run plays of 18 yards and 37 yards. The Browns notched the touchdown on two-yard pass from Kizer to receiver Corey Coleman. The third quarter ended with the Browns up 21-7, but the Packers were driving deep in scoring territory as the clock struck zero.

The Packers opened up the fourth by finishing off what they started late in the third quarter. A one-yard touchdown run by running back Jamaal Williams on a 3rd-and-goal play moved the score to 21-14 Browns with just under 13 minutes to play in the game. The Browns got a few yards on the following drive, but were forced to punt, giving the Packers a chance to tie the game up.

Green Bay had to start at the three-yard line after a great punt by Browns punter Britton Colquitt. The Cleveland defense bent a little, but it did not break, as the defense stopped the Green Bay offense after gaining 42 yards in the series. The Browns forced the punt and were given a chance to put the game away with just over five minutes left in the game. The Browns cut a little bit of time off the clock, but a dropped catch by tight end David Njoku gave the Packers life. The Browns punted, but gave up a big 65-yard return to Trevor Davis to set up Green Bay to tie the game back up with just about two minutes left. The Packers capitalized on the punt return and were able to tie the game up on a Hundley to receiver Davante Adams one-yard touchdown pass with just 17 seconds left. The Browns knelt to run the clock out and head to overtime tied at 21.

The overtime saw the return of the 2017 Cleveland Browns and summed up what the season has been all about. The Browns won the toss and received the overtime opening kickoff, but Kizer decided to make one of the most baffling decisions a quarterback could make. With the run game notching eight yards on the first two plays of the period, the Browns were met with a 3rd-and-2 play at their own 33-yard line. Rather than run for the first, Jackson called a pass to convert the first down, which would end up as successful as most Browns could have told you it would. Kizer took the snap and tried to target Gordon, but he was covered. The young quarterback began to scramble, and for some insane reason, as he was getting hit by a Packer defended, Kizer attempted to air up a pass that went straight up in the air. The pass was intercepted by Josh Jones and put the Packers in scoring position to win the game.

“I went over to my first read in Josh (Gordon) on the slant, but hey bracketed him,” said Kizer of the interception. “They brought a safety over. By the time I wanted to get over to No. 2, it was time to escape the pocket and try to use my feet. Start running right and the guy had good leverage on me. I was able to reverse field there. On my way back to my left, I was able to see Rashard Higgins spin off of his guy and have an opportunity to go down and make a game-winning touchdown. One of the better players in this league was able to reverse field with me, get his hand on my arm, it left the ball in the air and they were able to make a good play on the ball.”

The Browns defense completely collapsed when faced with this situation, allowing Hundley to throw a short pass to receiver Davante Adams, who took the ball and scampered 30 yard for the winning touchdown, the Browns losing to the Packers in overtime, 27-21.

The Browns will once again search for win No. 1 as they host AFC North “rival” Baltimore Ravens in Week 15.

“We just have to keep fighting,” said Jackson. “We are going to continue to fight. That is one thing I know about this group. We will continue to fight. Nobody is going to put their head down. In order to win in the National Football League, you have to play really good in the fourth quarter. That is what you have to do. You have to make those plays. We have to find a way to make those plays when the opportunities come. That is where we are.”

The saga continues.