December 22, 2014

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Browns don’t score in 2nd half, lose to Lions 31-17

CLEVELAND — The Browns’ three-game winning streak is over.
The Lions dominated the second half, scored 24 straight points and beat the Browns 31-17 at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Lions improved to 4-2. The Browns fell to 3-3, out of first place in the AFC North and face back-to-back road games at Green Bay and Kansas City.
The Browns didn’t score in the second half and didn’t really threaten until the game was out of reach.
Their previous decent chance came with about six minutes left, trailing 24-17.
A pair of completions to Josh Gordon moved the ball to the Detroit 44-yard line, then quarterback Brandon Weeden made a dumb and disastrous decision.
He was pressured late and flipped the ball toward fullback Chris Ogbonnaya near the sideline. The backhanded flip hung in the air, didn’t make it to the boundary and was intercepted by linebacker DeAndre Levy with 4:36 left.
Defensive lineman C.J. Mosley had Weeden around the left ankle, preventing him from making a normal throw. Weeden said he was trying to flip it over Ogbonnaya’s head.
“Just a boneheaded play,” Weeden said. “I was just trying to make a play.
“Absolutely, I just should’ve taken the sack.”
Weeden, making his first start since Week 2, fell to 0-3 as the starter this year. He went 26-for-43 for 292 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and a 76.9 rating.
The Browns appeared to have the Lions stopped on the next possession, but linebacker Quentin Groves was penalized for roughing quarterback Matthew Stafford on third down. It was the second close call by officials that didn’t go the Browns’ way, and Stafford finished the drive with his fourth touchdown pass.
“The only thing he can do is not hit him. But that’s not how you play football,” linebacker Paul Kruger said. “I don’t know what to say. To make that a game-changer, I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t see what else he could’ve done.”
The other controversial call happened earlier in the fourth quarter.
The Browns, trailing 21-17 with 10:35 left, got their first first down of the second half on a 14-yard completion to Gordon to move the ball to the Cleveland 34-yard line. Weeden threw the ball away on the next play and was penalized for intentional grounding because the officials decided he was still in the pocket. A false start on tight end Jordan Cameron led to second-and-25 from the 19-yard line.
Greg Little made a leaping grab down the right sideline near the first-down marker, but the official ruled he landed out of bounds. Coach Rob Chudzinski challenged, but the call stood.
The Lions took a 21-17 lead, their first since 7-0, with 10:35 left in the game. Stafford hit tight end Joseph Fauria for a 23-yard touchdown down the right seam with linebacker Craig Robertson in coverage.
Robertson missed a tackle of tight end Brandon Pettigrew on the previous play, allowing the Lions to convert a third down.
Fauria finished with three touchdowns, making up for the lack of production from All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson, who was limited to three catches for 25 yards by a sore knee.
The Browns were brutal in the first and third quarters. They scored no points in either, and had only 6 yards in the third quarter, as they punted after three plays on all three possessions.

THIRD QUARTER
The Browns didn’t have a first down in the third quarter as the Lions cut into their lead, but Cleveland (3-2) hung onto a 17-14 lead after three quarters.
The Lions cut the lead to three with 8:57 left in the quarter on an 18-yard touchdown catch-and-run by running back Reggie Bush. He lined up in the slot, caught a quick in route and got good blocking.
The drive was eight plays and 79 yards. The other big play was a 39-yard run by Bush, who was held to 14 yards on seven rushes in the first half.
Detroit appeared poised to take the lead when cornerback Buster Skrine made the defensive play of the game for the Browns.
He made a lunging deflection on a post pattern intended for Patrick Edwards, and free safety Tashaun Gipson intercepted it in the end zone. He returned it to the 30-yard line.
The offense couldn’t capitalize on the momentum and punted after three plays, including the first sack of quarterback Brandon Weeden.
The Browns went three-and-out on their three possessions.

HALFTIME
The Browns woke up after a drowsy first quarter, scored 17 unanswered points in the second quarter and took a 17-7 lead at halftime at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden threw two touchdown passes as the Browns chase their fourth straight win.
The Browns, who trailed 7-0 after a quarter, went ahead on a 2-yard touchdown from Weeden to receiver Greg Little with 1:16 left in the half.
The Lions quickly went three-and-out, and the Browns took advantage with a 40-yard Billy Cundiff field goal with eight seconds left.
The big play on the field-goal drive was a 36-yard crossing route to receiver Josh Gordon.
The Browns tied the game at 7 with 12:52 left in the half on a 4-yard pass from Weeden to fullback Ogbonnaya. Weeden faked a handoff to Ogbonnaya, who sneaked through the line and was open on a short out route.
A 45-yard end-around by Travis Benjamin sparked an offense that was ineffective in the first quarter. The other big play on the drive was a 9-yard completion to Gordon on third-and-8 from the 15.
Ogbonnaya was able to play after leaving the last game, Oct. 3 against Buffalo, with a concussion.
Weeden is 12-for-20 for 135 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in his first start since Week 2. He wasn’t sacked.
Running back Willis McGahee has 33 yards on eight carries and Cleveland has a season-high 115 rushing yards.
Gordon has four catches for 79 yards.

Some observations:
** Offensive coordinator Norv Turner pulled out some tricks during the Browns’ touchdown drive.
In addition to the end-around, reserve tackle Rashad Butler lined up in the backfield and protected on an incompletion. Ogbonnaya then took a direct snap and ran up the middle for 2 yards after Weeden motioned out of the backfield.
** On the second scoring drive, rookie tight end MarQueis Gray lined up as the Wildcat quarterback in the backfield with receiver Greg Little and running back Bobby Rainey. Gray faked a handoff, kept the ball up the middle and gained 10 yards.
** Weeden’s streak without an interception ended after a career-high 111 passes. He tried to hit Ogbonnaya on a wheel route, but linebacker DeAndre Levy had good coverage and made the pick on Detroit’s 17-yard line.
** Lions receiver Calvin Johnson dropped a third-down pass that would’ve gone for a first down. Cornerback Joe Haden blitzed, leaving safeties Tashaun Gipson and T.J. Ward in coverage.
** Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was penalized for offsides when he jumped the snap and knocked over right guard Shawn Lauvao.

FIRST QUARTER
The Lions dominated the first quarter against Cleveland’s fourth-ranked defense and led 7-0 at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Lions (3-2) held the ball for 11 plays on the game’s first possession before punting. After the Browns (3-2) went four-and-out, the Lions went 58 yards in nine plays and 4:23 for a touchdown.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford hit tight end Joseph Fauria on a 1-yard fade for the score. Fauria outjumped safety Johnson Bademosi, who was inserted to cover the tight end.
The big play on the drive was a 16-yard pass interference on cornerback Joe Haden on third-and-1 from the 23-yard line. Haden didn’t appear to make much contact.
He did on the next play, and was called again for pass interference, this time on Lions receiver Calvin Johnson in the end zone.
Johnson, who was a gametime decision with a knee injury, started but only played sporadically. He dropped a pass in the end zone before the touchdown to Fauria.
The Browns have won three straight and are tied for the AFC North lead with Cincinnati and Baltimore.

Some observations:
** Browns receiver Greg Little returned to the starting lineup after three weeks coming off the bench behind Davone Bess.
** Bess and receiver Josh Gordon had passes go off their hands on the Browns’ second possession.
** Outside linebacker Paul Kruger disrupted a third-down pass by coming off the edge untouched and jumping as Stafford tried to throw a swing pass to Reggie Bush.