This game fell right through the Browns hands; Josh Gordon’s hands to be specific. Gordon’s end zone drop in the final minutes of the fourth quarter served to be Cleveland’s best and last opportunity to score.
The Browns were looking to snap an 11-game road losing streak, but now the young 1-6 team is just looking for answers. This game was a perfect example of how the combination of the Browns’ youth and the culture of losing in Cleveland resulted in a close loss. The Browns simply don’t know how to win close games yet, as their average margin of defeat in 6 games is a mere 7 points.
The Cleveland defense, so strong a year ago, wasn’t very effective in stopping Andrew Luck and the Colts; particularly, in the first half, where the Colts went on two 7 minute, 75+ yard touchdown drives. Indianapolis controlled the ball for more than 35 minutes. Their struggling running game suddenly game alive behind the legs of Luck and running back Delone Carter as the Colts rushed for a season high 148 yards on the ground. Luck scrambled for a career-high 2 touchdown runs, while Carter carried the ball 20 times for 84 yards. Luck was efficient in the air, avoiding turnovers while throwing for 186 yards on 16 completions.
The Cleveland offense, on the other hand, once again struggled running the ball. Trent Richardson, battling through a rib injury, played the 1st half. Richardson’s effort was admirable, but he was largely ineffective, gaining 8 yards on 8 carries. Montario Hardesty replaced him in the second half, but didn’t fare much better. Brandon Weeden looked very impressive, however. He completed 25 passes for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns. Both touchdowns were perfectly thrown strikes. The first, a 14 yarder to Greg Little, was thrown high enough to let the athletic Little go up and get the pass. In the third quarter he hooked up for a 33 yard touchdown with Josh Gordon on back shoulder pass in the face of a Colts blitz. Weeden was ready to celebrate a 3rd touchdown pass as he released a pass down the seam to a streaking Gordon; however, as Gordon passed from the shade into the sunlight, he lost track of the ball and it bounced off of his hands.
It’s back to the drawing board for the Browns and new owner Jimmy Haslem, who was in attendance Sunday, getting a first-hand education in the problems plaguing his new organization since its return in 1999. It’s safe to assume that such results won’t be acceptable under Haslem. While today’s overall result was disappointing, Haslem and Browns fans can take solace in the fact that it appears Weeden is more than capable of playing at the NFL level.
Cleveland will look to bounce back as they take on San Diego (3-3) next weekend for a 1 PM showdown at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
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