GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- In the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s 31-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, the Cleveland Browns’ coaches and players sat in the visiting locker room under the bleachers and thought not about the plays that were made, but rather the ones that set them back.
From the 12 penalties for 106 yards and one interception that ignited the Packers’ second scoring drive, the Browns felt “disappointed” with the results of the game.
“It was a disappointing loss for us tonight,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. “We weren’t able to get the job done against an outstanding football team. I give Green Bay a lot of credit for the way they played.
“Aaron Rodgers showed the kind of quarterback he is, and they did a heck of a job against us tonight. We got off to a poor start and fought back and tried to get back all night. I thought we continued to fight to the end. We just had too many breakdowns and didn’t make the plays when we needed to.”
And the players echoed the sentiments of their head coach following the loss.
“I’m disappointed we came in here and didn’t play our best game,” said six-time Pro Bowl left tackle
The Browns were outgained, 357 to 216, in total yardage, including a 253 to 133 edge in passing, but it was third-down defense that had most of the team talking following the loss.
Green Bay converted seven of their 13 third-down attempts, good for 54 percent.
“We’ve been having a little bit of trouble with that all year,” safety T.J. Ward said. “We keep pointing at it as something we need to do, and I don’t think we’ve figured it out completely right now, and when we do, you’ll see improvement. We’ve just got to get to the film and see what we’re doing wrong on third down.”
Gipson added, “Third down, that seems like it’s our Achilles’ heel, but at the same time, it’s us just (manning) up and saying, ‘We’ve got to get off the field on third down.’ That’s what it comes down to. They’re running the same plays on first and second down, and we’re (stopping) them. When they come to a third down, they find a way to get it done and we don’t. We can only get better from where we are right now. Third downs are crucial in this league, and right now, we’re not very good at them. If we can do that, we can definitely be close in these ball games.”
CONTAINING AND FINISHING
In the first 11 minutes of the game, the Browns found themselves in a 14-point hole after Rodgers threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jermichael Finley, and running back Eddie Lacy punctuated an 11-play, 56-yard drive with a one-yard scoring run at the 3:44 mark of the first quarter.
“The way we started the game, it was 14-0 before we looked up and realized we were in a ball game,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “I thought, in the second half, we did a better job of containing what they do, and we’ve just got to sustain it and finish the game. With an offense like that, they’re going to score their points, but we’ve got to hold them. We’ve got to create turnovers and create better field position for (quarterback) Brandon (Weeden) and those guys.”
With 10 minutes remaining in regulation, Rodgers targeted Finley with a pass over the middle of the field for a gain of 10 yards. At the end of the play, Finley lowered his head and safety Tashaun Gipson dove in to make the stop.
Gipson's forearm and shoulder hit Finley’s head after the veteran tight end lowered his shoulders and the play was penalized for unnecessary roughness.
Following the injury, Gipson said he prayed for Finley and would try and contact him once the veteran tight end undergoes medical tests.
“I went over there and prayed for him, spoke words to him when he was down, when they were getting ready to stretcher him off,” Gipson recalled. “I’m pretty sure I can get in contact with him, and when I do, I’m definitely going to shoot my condolences to him. There wasn’t any ill intent, so I definitely want to let him know.
“It was definitely my shoulder. The crown of my head did not go down whatsoever. It was a shoulder hit. I don’t know the placement, where it hit him exactly, but I know I just saw a break out of the middle. He was running a slant, I’m driving on the ball, there was a collision and he was down.”