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3 Big Takeaways: Talking Robert Griffin III's highlight-filled night, defense and more

Three quick reactions from the Browns' 24-13 loss to the Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium …

1) Robert Griffin III shows he can help offense in variety of ways

One of the main reasons why Robert Griffin III won Cleveland's starting quarterback competition was the constant improvement he's shown since the day he arrived in Berea.

Thursday marked the latest step in the right direction for the Browns quarterback, who ran the offense effectively and even flashed some of the running that powered his breakout rookie season.

Griffin, who was up and down over two series last week at Green Bay, threw as many deep touchdown passes (two) as he did incompletions. His quarterback rating was 154.2 after going 6-for-8 for 96 yards and two touchdowns. He added 36 yards on the ground, the bulk of which coming on a 22-yard designed run that preceded the Browns' second touchdown of the night, a 29-yarder placed only where Pro Bowl tight end Gary Barnidge could nab it.

Griffin's deep ball has been steady throughout training camp, and it was on target for a second straight week when he connected with Terrelle Pryor for a 50-yard touchdown pass. It's clear Griffin has some solid chemistry with both Pryor and rookie Corey Coleman when he looks to go long.

2) Tough night for run defense

Jackson wasn't thrilled about the run defense's performance during his halftime interview, and it didn't get much better in the final 30 minutes.

The Falcons were methodical on their first offensive possession, picking up solid gains on the ground to open things up in the passing game and set up manageable third downs. Atlanta converted three third-and-1s and scored on a 19-yard Devonta Freeman touchdown run to cap the drive.

The Falcons averaged nearly 5 yards per carry en route to 78 rushing yards in the first half. With mostly second- and third-team players on the field, the Browns surrendered 62 rushing yards on the opening drive of the second half, as Brandon Wilds raced in from 32 yards to put the Falcons in the lead. Atlanta cleared 200 rushing yards in the fourth quarter.

"We have to bring that down because we want to keep them under 100," linebacker Christian Kirksey said.

3) Carl Nassib once again rises to occasion

Earlier this month, Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton said he wasn't sure who would emerge as his top pass-rushing threats.

Through two preseason games, rookie Carl Nassib has been as disruptive as anyone, and he made his biggest play yet in Thursday's third quarter.

With the Falcons at the Browns' 26, Nassib burst around the edge, strip-sacked quarterback Matt Simms and fell on the fumble. It was his second sack of the preseason. It would have been his third if the one he notched earlier in the game wasn't nullified for an illegal contact penalty in the secondary.

Nassib also batted down a pass on his first snap of the game on a night in which he continued to look like an answer on the defensive line.

The Browns played the Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium for the second game of the preseason.

The Browns host the Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium.

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