CLEVELAND— The Browns came into the game as the third ranked pass defense team in the NFL.
They should not be third next week.
The Browns gave up three touchdown passes in the first half to Matt Hasselbeck and the Titans, including several big plays in the passing game, which was enough to send the Browns to 2-2 with a 31-13 thrashing by the Titans heading to the bye week.
Two plays, in particular, against the defense were key in the loss was an 80-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jared Cook and a 57-yard pass play to Nate Washington, which set up the Titans' third touchdown.
"The big plays stretched the game out," Pat Shurmur said. "You see how the game changes when big plays happen and the score gets out of hand."
In the first three games of the season, the Browns hadn't given up a big play in the passing game, other than the play the defense wasn't ready against the Bengals.
"Any time you have big plays, they get off the field quick and you don't make them drive down the field," T.J. Ward said. "That's what happened. They have big plays and they got up early and that changed our whole game plan."
Hasselbeck passed for 194 yards in the first half, including the three scores, when the game was for all practical purposes decided as the Titans built a 21-6 first half lead.
The Titans' first touchdown was set up by a 25-yard run by Chris Johnson that put the ball at the Browns' 35. An 18-yard pass to Lavelle Hawkins put the ball at the 12 and set up Craig Stevens' touchdown.
After the Browns cut the Titans' lead to 7-6 on two field goals, Hasselbeck threw a pass to Cook across the middle. Cook was behind Scott Fujita, who couldn't catch up with him. Usama Young had an angle on him about midfield, but whiffed and Cook ended up with an 80-yard score.
"Scott (Fujita) had him one-on-one," Shurmur said. "Usama has to tackle him. They made a nice throw and catch, but we have to get him on the ground."
"I missed a big tackle and gave up a big play," Young said. "That was a big one and the tight end ends up running down the sideline."
Young said he tried to cut Cook off, but took a bad angle.
"It's a play you wished you had back," he said. "I will try to not make that mistake again."
Hasselbeck's pass to Washington came about when Dimitri Patterson and Sheldon Brown got tangled up and Washington was wide open and took the ball to the Browns' four. Hasselbeck threw a touchdown to Damian Williams on the next play to make it 21-6.
The Browns dodged a bullet with 6:48 to play as Hasselbeck's pass in the end zone went right through the hands of Washington and the Titans settled for a 39 yard field goal to make it 24-6.
Hasselbeck had 194 yards in the first half passing and finished with just 220, as the Titans spent most of their time using the clock in the second half.
Ward said the mistakes will be corrected.
"We were missing tackles and we were not on our men like we should have been," he said. "We know that we can play much better than that. I don't think the effort was there completely, but it just looked like, including myself, I am not just putting it off on the rest of my teammates, but we didn't play how we should have played."
Colt's Record Day Rough: QB Colt McCoy had a rough day, despite setting a record for throwing 55 passes. He threw an interception to DB Jordan Babineaux, who returned it 97 yards for a touchdown and a possible 14 point swing. Instead of the Browns being within 11 at 24-13, they found themselves down 31-6.
"I should've thrown the ball away," McCoy said. "It's one of those things you learn from and wish you could take back. It was a dumb play on my part."
McCoy led the Browns into the end zone with 11:36 to play as he found TE Ben Watson from 10-yards out on fourth-and-9 to make it 31-13.
McCoy finished 40–of-61 for 350 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He was sacked three times. Josh Cribbs was sacked once as he took a lateral early in the game and was attempting to pass. Previously, QB Brian Sipe held the Browns record with 57 attempted passes. The 40 completions was a record, as well.
"We got behind and couldn't rally back," McCoy said. "We moved the ball early and settled for field goals."
So Much for Stats: The Browns lead in most of the statistical categories, but not in the one that counted most, scoreboard. The Browns led in total yards (416 to 332),passing yards (350 to 220), first downs (25 to 13), time of possession (36:53 to 23:07).
"It's typical how those stats get skewed in a game like that," Shurmur said.
"It was puzzling how it turned out," Hillis said. "We just gave up too many big plays."
Say it Aint So, Joe: CB Joe Haden injured his left knee in the second half and his return was questionable. Shurmur said it was a sprained knee.
Small Steps: The Browns scored for the first time in the first quarter this season on a 48-yard field goal by K Phil Dawson. Previously, they had been scoreless in the first quarter and had given up 20 points. It was the team's second possession and they moved 22 yards on five plays after KR Josh Cribbs returned a punt 16 yards to the Browns' 47. The big play on the drive was a 25-yard pass to rookie WR Greg Little to the Titans' 28. On the Browns' first possession they moved from their 20 to the Titans' 39. The Browns picked up three first downs on the drive. QB Colt McCoy was 3–of-5 for 23 yards.
Dawson kicked a 51-yard yard field goal to make it 7-6. A big play was a 27-yard pass from McCoy to RB Montario Hardesty to the Titans' 27. A fumbled snap by McCoy set the Browns back eight yards, to force the longer field goal.
RB by Committee: After RB Peyton Hillis returned from missing last week's game with strep throat, he started, but split time with RB Montario Hardesty. Hillis had eight carries for 37 yards in the first half. He also caught one pass for two yards. RB Montario Hardesty had six carries for 20 yards with one reception for 27 yards. Hillis finished with 10 rushes for 46 yards and five receptions for 23 yards. Meanwhile, Hardesty had 7 carries for 22 yards and five receptions for 49 yards.
Hardesty dropped two passes that he should've handled.
There was a report on ESPN before the game that Hillis didn't play last week due to his contract situation. Shurmur said ‘Peyton was sick'.
Hillis said he felt fine and he would do what the coaches asked him to do.
"I'm a guy who gets in a rhythm," Hillis said. "It was the game plan and I'm going to follow that."
Adams Family: DB Mike Adams intercepted a pass for the second-straight week as he intercepted Hasselbeck in the fourth quarter.
Temper,Temper: C Alex Mack was flagged for a personal foul as the Browns were at the Titans' 4 to make it third-and-18, instead of third-and-4. McCoy ran for nine yards on third down and then hit Watson for the touchdown.
Bad Bounce: K Phil Dawson kicked the ball out of bounds near the goal line to give the Titans a starting position of their 40 on their first touchdown drive. The ball looked as though it was heading to the end zone, but went out of bounds at about the two causing the penalty.
CJ2K: RB Chris Johnson broke free on a 25-yard run to jump start the Titans' first touchdown drive. He had 41 yards on seven carries in the first half and has his first 100-yard game with 23 carries for 101 yards. He caught two passes for 11 yards.
Robo Sighting: WR Brian Robiskie caught his first pass of the season with 13:34 to play in the first quarter for 8 yards and a first down on third-and-four. He caught a 14-yard pass on the final play of the first half. He finished with three receptions for 25 yards.
Jackson's Quest: LB D'Qwell Jackson led the Browns with 10 tackles. LB Scott Fujita had nine.
Sackless: After having 11 sacks in the first three games, the Browns were held without any.
Pashos Starts: OL Tony Pashos was active for the first time this season and he started at right tackle. He had a false start in the second quarter.
Captain, Oh Captain: Captains for the coin toss were LB Kaluka Maiva, DL Ahtyba Rubin and TE Ben Watson.
Zebra Down: Umpire Ruben Fowler injured his left leg on the Browns' first drive and was helped to the Browns' locker room.
Inactives: For the Browns: DB Eric Hagg, OL Steve Vallos, OL Oniel Cousins, TE Jordan Cameron, WR Carlton Mitchell and QB Thaddeus Lewis. For the Titans: QB Rusty Smith, CB Chris Hawkins, LB Gerald McRath, C Kevin Matthews, OT Byron Stingily, DL Zach Clayton and DL Malcom Sheppard.
T-Bone, Baab Back: Former Browns offensive linemen Tony Jones and Mike Baab were the honorary captains for the game. Jones played with the Browns from 1988-95, while Baab played with the Browns from 1982-87 and 1990-91.
Pretty in Pink: Browns players, coaches and game officials wore pink in support of breast cancer awareness for the third-straight year.