PHILADELPHIA -- Three quick reactions to the Browns' 29-10 season-opening loss to the Eagles...
Slow start puts Browns in early hole
On both sides of the ball to start Sunday's game, Cleveland didn't the kind of performance it envisioned since it first eyed the opener at the start of training camp.
In his first regular season NFL action and his first kind of football of any kind since the first week of preseason, rookie Carson Wentz moved the Eagles down the field with efficiency, hitting his tight ends on a number of easy throws to quickly move Philadelphia into the red zone. His first career touchdown pass came shortly thereafter on a 19-yard fade to Jordan Matthews, and the Eagles had the Browns in an early hole.
It got better for the Browns defense, which didn't surrender another touchdown until the midpoint of the third quarter but it was the kind of tough start Cleveland can't afford on a weekly basis.
On the other side of the ball, Cleveland couldn't move the chains in the first quarter, resulting in a 10:55-4:05 time of possession disparity. Establishing the run was difficult against a seasoned Philadelphia defensive line, and a handful of dropped passes stalled any potential momentum. Ultimately, the Browns didn't pick up a first down in the first quarter.
Cleveland picked up some steam in the second quarter to narrow Philadelphia's early lead but was never able to hold one of its own.
Two bounces Browns want back
In the blink of an eye, Cleveland lost momentum it gathered in spurts throughout Sunday's game on two occasions. The first cost the Browns some points and the second resulted in a nine-point swing that allowed Philadelphia to pull away in the second half.
Midway through the second quarter and trailing 10-7, Cleveland had its most balanced drive of the day rolling. Robert Griffin III opened it with a 13-yard pass to Terrelle Pryor, moved the sticks again with a 12-yard pass to Duke Johnson and scrambled 20 yards to put the Browns in field goal range. After a 5-yard Isaiah Crowell run, Griffin attempted a pass to rookie Corey Coleman that was deflected at the line of scrimmage and deflected once more before it was intercepted by Rodney McCloud.
Midway through the third quarter, Cleveland had momentum back on its side after it picked up a field goal on its first possession and forced a Philadelphia punt to get the ball back trailing 13-10. On the first play of the drive, center Cameron Erving sent a snap sailing over Griffin's head that rolled out of the back of the end zone for a safety. On the ensuing possession, Philadelphia converted a fourth-down play from Cleveland's 40-yard line and followed with a 35-yard Nelson Agholor touchdown catch to stretch the lead to double digits.
Signs of encouragement on otherwise tough day
The youngsters on Cleveland's defense certainly didn't wilt under the pressure, even after the aforementioned tough start. Following the opening drive touchdown, the Browns limited Philadelphia to six points on the next six possessions, three coming after the Eagles were set up with a short field following a failed fake punt. Cleveland was crushed in time of possession but didn't collapse.
Third-round rookie defensive end Carl Nassib got his first NFL start and made the most of it, applying pressure, batting down balls and making a number of key plays. His first career sack came in the second half and forced a Philadelphia punt. Rookie linebacker Joe Schobert had a knockdown, Emmanuel Ogbah was active throughout the game and rookie safety Derrick Kindred had a big role in a Christian Kirksey third-down sack.
On offense, Pryor got the Browns going in the second quarter with three big catches, including a 44-yarder that helped set up Cleveland's only touchdown. Coleman's first NFL catch was a big one, as he hauled in a 58-yard Griffin bomb to set up the Browns' third quarter field goal. Johnson made the most of his six touches, running for 22 yards and compiling 28 receiving.
The Browns get their shot at redemption next Sunday against the Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Browns play the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2016 season opener.