Three quick reactions from the Browns' 27-13 loss to the Giants …
Quick-punch scores ruin D's day
Cleveland's defense forced nine punts Sunday, four coming on the Giants' first four drives of the game. The Browns defense opened the second half with back-to-back three-and-outs. It was arguably the best effort of the year for the young group, but quick-hitting, big plays from the Giants prevented it from being rewarded with a win.
All three of the Giants' offensive touchdowns came on drives that moved at a quick pace and were highlighted by big plays.
New York broke a scoreless tie in the second quarter when it took over at Cleveland's 31-yard line following an Isaiah Crowell fumble and got in the end zone two plays later. Eli Manning threw an 18-yard pass to Roger Lewis and a 13-yarder to Dwayne Harris in successive fashion to make it 7-0.
With 1:43 to play in the first half, the Giants needed just 30 seconds to take a 14-3 advantage. A 37-yard pass to Victor Cruz helped set up a 32-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Odell Beckham Jr.
And early in the fourth quarter, on the possession following a Cleveland touchdown that narrowed the deficit to seven, the Giants drove 71 yards on six plays, getting 41 one of those on a catch by Beckham Jr., who sealed the possession with a 4-yard touchdown catch.
On the possessions that didn't end with touchdowns, New York cleared 10 yards just twice. It was enough on this day to beat an improved, but still work-in-progress Browns defense.
Two big turnovers = 2 TDs the other way
When the offense isn't coming easy, turnovers become an even bigger part of the game. On Sunday, that couldn't be more true, and the Browns were on the wrong end of the two biggest.
With the score locked at 0-0 midway through the second quarter, Cleveland got moving on a drive with a 13-yard pass to Corey Coleman. On the very next play, Crowell burst through the line and fumbled for the first time this season, and the Giants had control well inside field-goal range. Two plays later, it was 7-0.
And in the fourth quarter, with the Browns trailing by just a touchdown and inside Giants territory after a 54-yard catch by Terrelle Pryor Sr., Josh McCown was hit as he threw, Jason Pierre-Paul nabbed the fumble out of the air and ran it back 43 yards for a touchdown. It marked the second straight week in which the opposing defense scored the game-sealing touchdown on a turnover.
"I had Corey on a go route," McCown said. "We had been talking about some adjustments we were making after they had given a certain look. We both talked about it and we kind of got the look that we were hoping for. I was cutting it loose to Corey down the sideline, and it was just unfortunate."
On the flipside, when Cleveland recovered a muffed punt inside field goal range during the second quarter, it was only able to come away with a short Cody Parkey field goal.
"You have to score touchdowns and I get it," Browns coach Hue Jackson said. "Again, we had our chances and we did not get it. That is how this thing works."
Bye week has finally arrived
Twelve weeks later, the Browns will receive some much-needed rest, joining the Titans as the last two teams in the league to receive a bye.
Injuries have been a factor for the Browns since Robert Griffin III went down with a serious shoulder injury Week 1, and they piled up in a seemingly endless fashion during the first half of the season. Now, the Browns are relatively healthy -- outside the number of players they've lost for the season -- with the exception of QB Cody Kessler (concussion), DB Tramon Williams Sr. (knee) and RG John Greco (foot). The Browns will know more Monday about the extent of Greco's injury, which was suffered during Sunday's second half.
The Browns will practice Monday and Tuesday before breaking for the week. Their preparations for the Bengals will begin in earnest next Monday (Dec. 5).
The Browns would have preferred to reach this point with a few wins in their pocket, but there's no looking back. And Jackson expects them to have a clear mind and determined focus entering the final, four-game stretch.
"They need to get a little break," Jackson said. "We need to some self-scout of ourselves and get a break. We have four games left –last quarter of our season. We have to find a way to put together a win. And who knows. There are four games that we have an opportunity to go out and play. There are four opportunities to win but there are another four opportunities to lose. So, one thing I do know is the guys in the locker room are going to dictate it."
The Browns play the New York Giants in Week 12.