CLEVELAND--The Robert Griffin III journey continues to trend in the right direction.
The second start of the preseason at quarterback for Griffin was encouraging. Griffin played all but one snap of the first half and led the Browns to two touchdowns, both touchdown passes from long range. Both scoring drives included key runs by Griffin. The Browns were leading, 13-10 when Griffin left the game, but ultimately lost 24-13 to the Atlanta Falcons in the second preseason game. The Browns are 0-2 in the preseason and play their third game a week from Friday night in Tampa Bay.
Griffin hooked up once again, with Terrelle Pryor on the Browns second possession and hit Pryor in stride for a 50-yard touchdown as Pryor was able to get behind Desmond Trufant to cap a four play, 81-yard drive. Pryor caught the ball behind Trufant inside the 10-yard line and easily scored. Griffin hooked up with Pryor in the first preseason game for 49 yards. Griffin started the drive with a 14-yard run, which was his first run from scrimmage in the preseason.
On the Browns fourth possession with Griffin at quarterback, he led the Browns 62 yards on six plays capping the drive with a picture perfect pass to Gary Barnidge down the sideline for a 29-yard touchdown. Once again, GriffinI jump started the drive with a 22-yard run.
Griffin numbers were impressive as he finished 6-of-8 for 96 yards with two touchdowns and an impressive rating of 154,2. He was sacked once and rushed twice for 36 yards. He was credited with a third rush when he fell on a bad snap by center Cameron Erving. Griffin had five series at quarterback resulting in two touchdowns and three punts.
Josh McCown relieved Griffin and took a knee on the final play of the first half and played into the fourth quarter. McCown finished 4-of-7 for 48 yards, including a 30-yard pass to Randall Telfer. The Browns had the ball at the Falcons' two-yard line on fourth-and goal and turned the ball over on downs as McCown threw an incomplete pass to Connor Hamlett in the end zone.
Rookie Cody Kessler took over with 7:25 to play in the fourth quarter and was 2-of-3 for 10 yards in his only series.
Big Play Pryor:For the second-straight preseason game, WR Terrelle Pryor made a big play. After catching a 49-yard pass from Griffin against Green Bay, Pryor's only catch against the Falcons was a 50-yard touchdown on the Browns second possession. Pryor had one other ball thrown his way that was incomplete.
“(Head) Coach (Hue) Jackson always says every game that we have to get a touchdown a quarter," Pryor said. "Me and (Falcons DB Desmond) Trufant, we were battling and mouthing back and forth. It was good because he hit me on the first play and it was good to get back at him. I’m a competitive guy. The Browns deserve it. The Browns fans, Dawg Pound, all they’re going to get from me is energy.”
Rushing Offense: The Browns had better success in the running game, averaging 5.0 yards a carry in the first half with 70 yards on 14 attempts. They finished with 102 yards on 20 carries for a 5.1 average. The numbers were elevated by Griffin's three carries for 36 yards, including a 22-yard run. RB Isaiah Crowell had 28 yards on seven carries, while RB Duke Johnson, Jr. had six yards on three carries. RB Raheem Mostert had two carries for four yards, while RB Terrell Watson had four carries for 28 yards, including a long run of 12 yards. Watson also caught two passes for 12 yards.
Jamming Jamar: DB Jamar Taylor had a productive first half as he tries to become the starting nickel back. Taylor broke up a third down pass intended for WR Mohamed Sanu in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Taylor broke up a third down pass intended for WR Nick Williams to force a field goal attempt that was missed by K Nick Rose.Taylor is trying to become the starter at the nickel position with DB K'Waun Williams serving a two-game suspension.
Telfer Sighting: Second-year TE Randall Telfer caught a 30-yard pass from QB Josh McCown in the third quarter to give the Browns a first down on the Falcons six-yard line. Telfer was drafted in the sixth-round in 2015 but spent the entire season on injured reserve with a foot injury. TE Connor Hamlet couldn't hang on to a pass near the goal line from McCown on one of his two targets.
Payton's Place: Rookie WR Jordan Payton caught his first pass of the preseason on a three-yard curl near the end zone. Fellow rookie WR Rashard Higgins caught one pass for 10 yards.
Kindred Spirit: Rookie S Derrick Kindred broke up a pass in the end zone intended for TE Austin Hooper that forced the Falcons to kick a field goal at the end of the first half. Kindred had three tackles. Kindred led the Browns with six tackles followed by LB Christian Kirksey with, DB Jordan Poyer and LB Dominique Alexander with four each.
Carl Continues Strong: Rookie DL Carl Nassib batted down a QB Matt Ryan pass on his first play in the game. Nassib sacked QB Matt Schaub in the second quarter, but an illegal contact penalty negated the sack. Nassib sacked QB Matt Simms with 3:45 left in the third quarter, forcing a fumble, which he recovered at the Browns' 39. The Browns other sack was shared by LB Cam Johnson and DL Kenton Adeyemi.
Run Defense:The Browns rushing defense allowed 58 yards in the first quarter, including a 19-yard touchdown run by RB Devonta Freeman. They gave up 78 yards, overall in the first half.
“We have to stop the run better," Jackson said. "I thought we did a better job on offense of taking care of the ball, but third down is still one of our Achilles’ heel. Right now, we just have to work through it. We’re getting better the more we understand what we’re doing and the guys keep working at it.”
The first team defense allowed the Falcons on go 71 yards in 9 plays on their first possession. Freeman scored on a 19-yard run around right end. DB Justin Gilbert had a chance to stop him at the line, but couldn't bring him down.
“Defensively, we need to freshen up some things, some missed tackles," Christian Kirksey said. "We have to freshen that up, but we’re flying around and getting to the ball. We held them to 78 rushing yards [in the first half]. We have to bring that down because we want to keep them under 100. We just have to see how this second half goes, but I’m proud of how our guys out there are competing. We have the lead right now so we have to keep it.”
Long Snapping: C Cameron Erving had a snap out of the shotgun to Griffin that sailed way over Griffin's head from the Browns' 46 back to the 22 where Griffin fell on the ball. A personal foul on LB Sean Weatherspoon bailed out the Browns as Weatherspoon grabbed Griffin's face mask as he ran to touch him. Erving snapped two shot gun snaps in practice over Griffin's head last week, but earlier this week said he had it corrected.
Moore Hurt: DB Rahim Moore, Sr. was taken to the locker room with a possible concussion in the second half.
Captains: For the first home preseason game the captains were: OL John Greco, OL Joel Bitonio, LS Charlie Hughlett, LB Christian Kirksey and LB Paul Kruger.null