Defense Scores Two Touchdowns; but Still Gives Up Lead Late
CLEVELAND–The Browns dropped their eighth out of their last nine games, including the last five in a row. The Browns defense scored two defensive touchdowns, but in the end couldn’t stop the Bears when it mattered most. The Browns have given up a fourth quarter lead in three-straight games. The Browns drop to 4-10 and finished their season 3-5 at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Browns have been outscored 128 to 66 in the fourth quarter this season, including 21-7 against the Bears.
“That’s the frustrating thing,” Rob Chudzinski said. “As you look at it, each game is different and the reasons why many be different. I’ll look at this one and need to look at it before I can completely know what the reasons are. The biggest thing is being able to correct them. Whatever the reasons are, we have to correct it.”
Tashaun Gipson intercepted Jay Cutler in the end zone on a tipped ball by T.J. Ward and returned it 35 yards to set up the Browns first score, a 35-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff. Then with 8:01 to play in the first half, Gipson intercepted Cutler again and ran 44 yards for the touchdown to give the Browns a 10-3 lead.
In the third quarter, the Browns took the lead 24-17 after Ward scooped up a fumble caused by Billy Winn on Martellus Bennett and ran 51 yards for the score with 3:40 to play.
“I was running to the ball and Billy chased (Bennett) and the ball pops out and I scooped it up and went to the end zone,” Ward said. “I hadn’t had a one touchdown season (until this year), so to get two in one year is definitely a blessing.”
Ward scored a touchdown earlier this season when he intercepted a pass to seal a win over the Bills.
Gipson said he with the Browns winning the turnover battle and scoring twice, they should’ve won.
“Absolutely, anytime you score two defensive touchdowns and get three or four turnovers, those are a recipe for success,” Gipson said. “Especially, when we were going up against this (Bears) defense and our offense being able to contribute points like they have. I just never would have guessed that we would lose this game after having the hot start that we had.
“If you would have told me that in the middle of the second quarter, I probably wouldn’t have believed you,” he said. “Unfortunately,it happened and we just have to go back to the drawing board.”
However, the Bears scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to build a 38-24 lead, which the Browns could not overcome.
D’Qwell Jackson, who tied Ward for the team lead with nine tackles, said giving up leads late is unacceptable.
“We gave up another lead,” Jackson said. “We have to find a way to finish the game.”
Jackson was also frustrated that the defense gave up their first 100-yard rushing game of the season to an individual as Matt Forte had 127 yards on 24 carries.
“We hadn’t given up a 100-yard rushing game all year,” he said. “It’s disappointing, but it comes down to finishing.”
Ward agreed with his teammates.
“Any time you lose a game, it’s upsetting,” Ward said. “Whatever it is that we’re not finishing, we have to figure it out.”
Despite Gipson having a big game with the two interceptions, the Bears tied the game when Cutler threw up a high ball near the end zone and Jeffery came down with it for a 45-yard touchdown to open the fourth quarter scoring. Gipson appeared to misjudge the ball as it drifted over his head.
“We were in man-to-man defense and (Cutler) threw the ball up and I got a clean break on it,” Gipson said. “He just made a good catch. He’s been making good catches like that all year. I tip my hat off to him for that. As a defender, we had two guys on him, a center field safety, as well as a cornerback. He just can’t catch that. I take full responsibility for that. Being a center field safety, I have to make those plays.”
The Browns are looking for answers in how to win games in the fourth quarter.
“I truly cannot answer that question,” Gipson said. “I think that we have the right guys in this locker room in every position. I just feel like everybody this past week was preaching to finish and as you can see, that is just what we are not doing. I have nothing but the utmost confidence that all 53 guys in this locker room that take the field every Sunday have the capability to finish games. We just have to do better at the end of the day.”
Josh Gordon agreed.
“That’s something that we’re working on and building on,” Gordon said. “Hopefully, we’ll get it done by the end of the season, if not we’re definitely looking forward to next season.”
Chudzinski said the Browns just have to learn how to close out games.
“It’s frustrating because the outcomes aren’t’ there,” Chudzinski said. “When the guys are competing, they want to win so badly. They’re putting forth the effort to do that, both in preparation and in game time. It’s a matter of us doing a better job in the key points of games and everybody doing a better job of being able to close it out and come up with a win.”
Gordon Falls Short: WR Josh Gordon was held to just two catches for 24 yards until 59 seconds left in the game. Gordon caught a 43-yard pass from Campbell down the side line to make the final 38-31. Gordon finished with three catches for 67 yards and a score on 10 targets. Gordon needed 88 yards to have the best five game reception yardage. He had zero catches in the first half. Gordon’s first catch was on the first play of the second half for 13 yards.
“It was frustrating,” he said. “But it is part of the game. Sometimes, we click a little earlier, sometimes we don’t.”
Gordon did catch a touchdown in the fifth-straight game and he now has 74 receptions for 1,467 yards with 9 touchdowns.
Gordon was in a minor car accident on Saturday, but was unhurt.
Campbell’s Day: QB Jason Campbell had a sub par day as he was 23-of-39 for 273 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He was intercepted by DB Zachary Bowman, who returned the interception 43 yards for a touchdown with 13:48 to play in the third quarter to give the Bears a 17-10 lead. Bowman had an interception earlier in the game as Campbell was trying to throw to TE Jordan Cameron. On the interception for the score, Bowman stepped in front of WR Greg Little and raced untouched for the score. Campbell’s touchdown pass was to WR Josh Gordon from 43 yards out with just 59 seconds to play. Campbell finished with a rating of 67.6.
Baker the TD Maker: RB Edwin Baker, just signed this week from the Texans’ practice squad accounted for 84 all-purpose yards. he led the Browns with 38 yards on 8 carries (4.8 avg.) including his first NFL touchdown.
“I wanted to let everybody know that I had been out of the end zone for a while and I had to let everybody know that I’m back.”
Baker’s touchdown was just the third rushing touchdown the Browns have scored this season, the other two were by RB Willis McGahee.
RB Chris Ogbonnaya, who started for McGahee had just seven yards on five carries and caught five passes for 39 yards.
Slow Day for Cameron: TE Jordan Cameron had zero catches in the first half and finished with three for 23 yards.
Sack Attack: The Browns had two sacks on QB Jay Cutler. LB Jabaal Sheard picked up a sack in the third quarter, while DB Julian Posey and DB Leon McFadden combined for a sack on a blitz later in the game.. Sheard leads the Browns with 5.5 sacks.
Haden Down: in third quarter, CB Joe Haden went down with a hip injury and did not return. He was seen walking out of the locker room.
“He has a hip pointer, so we’ll see (Monday) as far as the severity goes of that,” Chudzinski said.
Ward said that DB Leon McFadden and DB Jordan Poyer stepped in and played well.
“Joe’s a great player,” Ward said. “I think he’ll be alright.”
Losing Points: With 4:49 to play in the first half, the Bears had fourth-and-inches at the Browns 24. They lined up to go for the first down, but WR Alshon Jeffery was flagged for a false start. The Bears then elected to kick a field goal and K Robbie Gould made it but DL Corey Wootton was called for holding and the Bears ended up punting after the penalty moved the Bears back to the 39.
Wildcat Gray: TE MarQueis Gray provided a spark with back-to-back runs out of the ‘wildcat’ for 18- and 12-yards and finished with 30 yards rushing. The two runs set up Baker’s two-yard touchdown.
Rusty Jay: QB Jay Cutler returned to the lineup for the Bears after missing four games with a high ankle sprain. He started rusty with two first half interceptions, but threw three touchdowns in the second half and finished 22-of-31 for 265 yards with a 102.2 rating.
“He played well,” WR Alshon Jeffery said. “He was a little rusty coming out, but he likes to be aggressive. He likes to throw it down the field and take some shots.”
Big Little: WR Greg Little had four receptions for 68 yards, including a short pass that he ran 44 yards to set up the Browns first score.
Last Home Game: Several Browns players are free agents at the end of the season, notably DB T.J. Ward, OL Alex Mack and OL Shawn Lauvao. If the Browns choose to no re-sign them this was their last game for the Browns at home.
“I’m not worried about that,” Ward said. “I was just ballin’.”
Moving Up in Draft: The Browns record is 4-10 with two games to play. The Texans (2-11), Redskins (3-11) are the only teams with less wins than the Browns. The Vikings (4-9-1), Bills (5-9) moved ahead of the Browns with wins and the Falcons tied the Browns with a win. The Browns are tied with the Jaguars, Raiders, Buccaneers and Falcons at 4-10. The tie breaker is strength of schedule.
FirstEnergy : The Browns entered the game 3-4 at FirstEnergy Stadium and tried to close the home season at 4-4, but were unable to do so, finishing 3-5. The stadium is supposed to undergo renovations the first of the new year, including a new scoreboard.
Greco, McGahee Inactive: RB Willis McGahee (concussion) and OL John Greco (knee) were among the inactive players for the Browns. Others inactive were: OL Martin Wallace, TE Keavon Milron, TE Andre Smith (calf), OL Reid Fragel and QB Alex Tanney. Pinkston started at left guard for Greco. It marked the first start for Pinkston since he was sidelined last season with a blood clot in his lung. Ogbonnaya started in place of McGahee.
Good Guy Dino: Long time Browns employee Dino Lucarelli retired for his three decades of work for the Browns in the front office. The media room in Berea is named after him and “The Dino Lucarelli Good Guy Award” is named after him, as well.