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Cleveland Browns Waste Great Chance to Start Season Fast

The Browns first three games were against teams that were 9-39 in 2014 and yet the Browns are 1-2

CLEVELAND—When the Browns 2015 schedule came out in April, it looked as though the Browns would have an opportunity to get off to a fast start facing three teams who’s record in 2014 combined was 9-39.

However, after the Browns dropped a 27-20 decision to the Oakland Raiders in front of 67,431 fans at FirstEnergy Stadium, the Browns stand at 1-2.

The Browns trailed the entire game and by 17 points, 27-10, with 14:30 to play in the game only to rally and come up short when Charles Woodson intercepted a pass from Josh McCown at the 12-yard line with 38 seconds left to play intended for Travis Benjamin.

The story of the game was the Browns defense unable to stop the Raiders trio of young play makers of the Raiders offense and allowing 469 yards as the Raiders built their lead.  Second-year quarterback Derek Carr threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns. Besides giving up over 300 yards to the quarterback, they gave up over 100 yards to rookie receiver Amari Cooper (134) and over 100 yards to third year running back Latavius Murray (139).

“It’s very frustrating,” defensive end John Hughes said. “It’s something that we’ve got to work on in practice and get it corrected.”

Twice after the Browns scored, the defense was unable to stop the Raiders as they gave up touchdown drives of 70- and 80-yards after Browns scored. The Browns picked up a field goal with 1:44 to play in the first half, only to have Carr hit Roberts for a 13-yard touchdown with 18 seconds left in the first half to give the Raiders a 17-3 halftime lead instead of 10-3.

After Gary Barnidge scored the Browns first touchdown with 3:32 to play in the third quarter, the Raiders marched 80 yards and capped it with a six-yard touchdown run by Murray to push Oakland’s lead back to 27-10 with 14:30 to play in the game. 

Mike Pettine was very disappointed in the yardage given up by the defense, as well as the number of big plays. Marcel Reece caught a short pass and went 55 yards when Donte Whitner and Tashaun Gipson couldn’t tackle him. Murray broke loose for a 54-yard run after the Browns didn’t set the edge on the run. In addition, to Reece’s long play, Cooper had a 40-yard catch and Seth Roberts had a 36 yard reception. 

Pettine was asked how concerned he was with the chunk yardage.

“Very, very,” he said. “There were times out there – I didn’t mince words with the staff – that we looked like a scout team. Then other drives, we were on point: guys doing their jobs, we made plays, we got off the field. In the NFL, you have to be consistent. You can’t have the highs and the lows. You have to play well throughout a game.”

Pettine didn’t blame everything on the defense, but the defense was expected to be the strength of the team going into the season. They played without starting defensive end Desmond Bryant (shoulder), linebacker Scott Solomon (ankle) and nickel back K’Waun Williams (concussion).

“We have to play better on all phases,” Pettine said.  “That is clear. I told them – I am not saying anything different that I said to the team – our theme for the year is words into action. We need to play better before we talk about potentially how good we can be.”

Truman Williams agreed.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” he said. “We just aren’t playing good football. We played well last week but we have to be more consistent. That’s about it.”

Particularly, disappointing was the fact that Cooper was able to gather in eight passes for 134 yards against Joe Haden.

“They (the Raiders) executed,” Pettine said. “We have our best corner on their best receiver, and they made plays. We had to do some juggling, and I will be curious to see on the tape how it played out. It was a big loss, losing  K’Waun (Williams) late in the week, but still, there were times where they were going good against good and they were making plays, especially early.”

Haden was forced to leave the game with a rib injury suffered tackling Murray, but he did return to the game.

Williams gave Cooper credit for his game.

“(Cooper) did what he had to do for his team,” Williams said. “He made the plays he had to. He’s a good young player and you have to give him credit, but it’s a team game.”

 


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