The Browns dropped their second straight game Sunday, this time in painful fashion.
Well, every loss hurts to some degree, but this one hurts because of what could have been.
The Browns jumped out to a 20-6 lead before half but scored just eight more points from there, allowing the Seattle Seahawks to outscore them 26-8 in the final 45 minutes of the game. That produced a 32-28 loss that pushed the Browns to 2-4 overall heading into their bye week.
Here are our three big takeaways from the team’s third home loss of 2019.
1. Time to avoid the avoidable mistakes
This is the most frustrating part of the Browns’ last two games: A lot of what led to the defeats came from their own hands.
Though they weren’t all his fault, Baker Mayfield finished with three interceptions. Two of those first glanced off receivers’ hands. Ultra-reliable running back Nick Chubb fumbled. The turnover total sat at four by the end of regulation, and while the Browns’ defense again did a solid job of keeping the Seahawks from capitalizing on the earlier takeaways — Seattle punted after Mayfield’s first interception, but turned the second interception into a touchdown — eventually it became clear that such mistakes were doubly hurting the Browns, keeping them from scoring while also producing points for Seattle.
The Browns finished with nine penalties for 83 yards. Nine penalties, or seven, or really any more than four or five in a game is too much. Combine them with four turnovers and you’ll produce a losing recipe.
In fact, it’s remarkable the Browns were in this game at the end when considering such numbers.
That should encourage the Browns, because it’s clear it isn’t a lack of talent at fault here, but a need for tighter play. Less mistakes should produce wins, perhaps in spectacular fashion. It’s just a matter of implementing such changes. Luckily, their bye week is arriving at the right time.
“You can’t move the ball if you turn the ball over,” head coach Freddie Kitchens said afterward. “Simple as that. Execution. Execution. Can’t turn the ball over. Do what you are supposed to do. I have to call better plays, but it is execution and turning the ball over. We had four turnovers. We had 400 yards of offense and had 28 points with four turnovers.”
Check out photos of the Browns in action against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday
2. Excellent display of resolve
The Browns very easily could have unraveled thanks to the turnovers and the struggles to score in the final three quarters. Too often, they had things going and then suddenly didn’t because of offensive mistakes or other outside influences.
“Did you see the big screen? I am not going to comment on officiating,” head coach Freddie Kitchens said afterward. “You saw the angle.”
OK, so we won’t go down that road. But there were moments in which momentum was against the Browns and sequences of events did not help them one bit. Most notably, the Browns failed to score from the Seahawks’ 1-yard line, even after review, and still faced the same 25-20 deficit they seemed sure to erase moments earlier.
They didn’t fold, instead getting a quick stop and a fortunately bad punt from the Seahawks, taking over at Seattle’s 24. The Browns then scored in two plays to regain the lead and force Seattle to respond.
The Seahawks did respond, which is why they’re leaving triumphantly, but credit to the Browns for hanging tough and battling through the end. That’s a good sign, even at 2-4.
“I think the effort was always there and trying to overcome every obstacle, whether it be the turnovers, the self-inflicting mistakes that we had,” Mayfield said. “The defense. We almost had a complementary football game and overcame a lot of mistakes, but we never quit. There are a lot of things on this tape that we will learn from. That is the hard part. It is a loss, and we are sick of losing. We will look at the tape.”
3. Take advantage of this loss
The Browns now get an extra week to lament what could have been Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
That’s an extra seven days to play the what-if game, to think about how 3-3 might look as opposed to 2-4. Except that’s not what this team will do, because that’s not how professionals operate. They’ll instead review the film, correct the mistakes, pull out the positives (surprisingly, there were plenty) from the loss and apply it to this team moving forward. It’s been a work in progress since Week 1, but such work is starting to peek through the uncertainty.
The Browns started fast and sustained a well-paced offensive attack for much of the afternoon, with turnovers serving as the lone major obstacle. They proved they can hang with a team that is currently looking at first place in the NFC West, depending on the outcome of Sunday’s meeting between the Rams and 49ers. In fact, this is the second time the Browns have hung with a good NFC team. All three of those teams might end up in the playoffs at season’s end, and this stretch could be seen as one of the toughest in the NFL.
But none of that matters unless this staff and roster takes advantage of what can be gained from this loss. They’ll get an extra week to digest it, rest, recover and resume efforts to improve. They’ll need it, too, because they have a big test coming in Week 8 at New England.