First Quarter: Browns 2nd and 8 on CLE 40
Right off the bat, the Browns struck lightning on their second offensive play. It was a 60-yard touchdown strike from Johnny Manziel to Travis Benjamin who got behind the safety and cruised to his second score of the season.
Mike Pettine said in his post-game interview that there was a plan in place to go to Travis deep if the Titans gave them a certain look with a certain personnel group. Give them credit for identifying the look and credit to the team for executing. Manziel had plenty of time to get the ball off, and Benjamin did exactly what he was supposed to. Manziel’s pass hit Travis in stride and right on the fingertips.
First Quarter: Titans 2nd and 5 on TEN 41
In baseball, they are called “response runs.” Your team gets a couple of runs in your half of the inning, and right away the other team scores in their half. Nothing zaps momentum quite like these response scores.
The same is true in football. The possession after a score can be critical. The Browns defense stepped up in Sunday’s win on several occasions, including shutting down any momentum Tennessee might have gained after a Browns score.
Following the bomb to Benjamin, Marcus Mariota scrambled for one first down before former Brown Terrance West carried the ball for 4 yards but was stripped of the ball. Joe Haden pounced on it to give the Browns the ball back at mid-field.
The Browns would keep the momentum going on the drive, with Isaiah Crowell scoring from 11 yards out on his most impressive run of the season.
First Quarter: Titans 3rd and 3 on CLE 38
The Titans broke off a big run when Armonty Bryant and Donte Whitner both seemed to take the same outside rush lane allowing Dexter McCluster to slash through the inside and rumble 44 yards downfield. It seemed like Tennessee may get their first points of the day, but John Hughes powered through and sacked Mariota stripping the ball. Christian Kirksey came up with the loose ball and the defense had come through again with the score still 14-0.
Second Quarter: Titans 4th and 1 at TEN 26
The two teams swapped punts for much of the second half. The Browns had one good chance to score, but went for the first down on 4th and inches at Tennessee’s 19 yard-line. They could have kicked a field goal, giving them a 17-point lead, but instead wanted to go up three touchdowns and were stuffed.
With under a minute to go, it didn’t seem likely the Browns would get on the board again in the first half, but Travis Benjamin made his second huge play of the game with a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Special teams plays can be gigantic momentum swings. The Titans may not have been gaining any momentum in the game, but this big play by Benjamin and the return team could have been the difference in the game.
Fourth Quarter: Titans 3rd and 13 on CLE 22
The third quarter was not kind to the Browns offense. They ran 12 plays over 3 possessions and gained 8 yards. They punted three times.
Meanwhile the Titans managed to score a touchdown and were on the doorstep of a second. Marcus Mariota was getting hit regularly, and was again when Jordan Poyer stepped in front of an errant pass and intercepted it.
Unfortunately for the Browns, Desmond Bryant was flagged for a hands to the face of an offensive lineman giving the Titans another set of downs and taking away the pick. Tennessee would capitalize on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Dorial Green-Beckham. The score was 21-14 Browns, but the momentum was clearly swinging Tennessee’s way.
Fourth Quarter: Browns 3rd and 6 at 50
The Titans brought pressure on Manziel, who spun out of it and rolled to the left out of the pocket. Travis Benjamin headed downfield when he saw Manziel break from the pocket and Johnny hit him with another long strike, this one a 50-yard score.
No matter what your opinion of Manziel has been, this play was throwback to his days at Texas A&M. He avoided the rush and improvised. This was the nail in the Titans’ coffin.