Missed Momentum

Browns squander momentum in winnable game vs. Bills.

CLEVELAND — When the NFL's leading rusher was driven to the locker room with a shoulder injury, the Cleveland Browns had an opportunity to seize momentum.

It didn't happen.

When rookie running back Trent Richardson once again made a play out of nothing and cut the Buffalo Bills lead to 14-7 with 2:12 left in the third quarter, the Browns had an opportunity to seize momentum.

It didn't happen.

When the Browns completed a third-quarter 13-play, 80-yard drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Weeden to Travis Benjamin, the Browns had an opportunity to seize momentum.

It didn't happen.

The Browns had a real chance to beat the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, just like they had a real chance to win the opener against the Philadelphia Eagles and last week against the Cincinnati Bengals.

It didn't happen.

It was more of the same for the Browns. The team shows some fight, but cannot overcome slow starts, penalties at the wrong time, dropped balls, inconsistent offense and Swiss cheese defense.

Despite spotting the Bills a 14-point lead Sunday, the Browns pulled to within seven points twice. Each time, the momentum and home crowd were on the Browns' side.

Spiller was carted off the sidelines with 2:52 remaining in the first quarter. He was clutching his left shoulder and was later ruled out for the remainder of the game.

"D'Qwell gave a speech after that and as soon as he did the momentum changed," Browns defensive back Buster Skrine said. "He said we just need to step it up as a whole."

With Spiller out, the Bills offense did slow down and it allowed the Browns to fight back into the game.

Toward the end of the first half, Richardson's 6-yard touchdown was something out of nothing. He took the handoff, ran into a wall, cut left and burst into the end zone.

The Bills took over 2:12 left in the half, threw two incomplete passes and faced a third and 10 from their own 20-yard line. Fitzpatrick threw to wide receiver T.J. Graham who was pushed out of bounds after a 6-yard gain.

Time for the Bills to punt, right?

Nope. Jackson was flagged for a personal foul late hit. Although the Bills would not score on the drive, the Browns lost more than an entire minute on the clock,as well as crucial field position.

Moving ahead to the third quarter when Weeden connected with Benjamin to cut the deficit to 17-14. On the Bills' ensuing drive, the Browns defense forced a three-and-out.

Good, right?

Cleveland took over on its own 40-yard line with 1:21 before the fourth quarter. Weeden hit Jordan Cameron for eight yards. Richardson ran for five yards and a first down.

Very good, right?

The last play of the third quarter was a pass to Richardson for negative two yards. Then, to start the fourth quarter at the Bills' 49-yard line, Weeden threw an incomplete pass followed by a sack.

Time for the Browns to punt.

The Bills then took the ensuing possession and drove 10 plays in 68 yards ending with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick to Stevie Johnson with 9:12 left in the game and extend the Bills' lead to 24-14. Ball game.

"We just have to figure out a way to get over the hump," Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi said. "Once we get over the hump I think the momentum will swing in our favor."

The 0-3 Browns will now hit the road and play a game outside the state of Ohio for the first time this season. It is nationally televised and against the AFC runners-up. The Browns need to quickly shake the negative momentum from Sunday, and get ready to play one of the best teams in the league.

"In this locker room there are a lot of level-headed, good, sound, quality guys," Weeden said. "None of us want to lose. You can't get distracted by what's going on around you.

"As crazy as it is we got to turn around and play Thursday night."

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