LANDOVER, Maryland -- Three quick reactions to the Browns' 31-20 loss to the Redskins...
Turnovers cost Browns in big way
The Browns, leading 20-17, had the Redskins on their heels late in Sunday's third quarter. Isaiah Crowell was picking up yards in chunks, Cody Kessler was making effective, clutch throws on third down and Cleveland was in the red zone with the chance to take a two-possession lead.
After one of Crowell's top plays of the year, a short reception he somehow turned into a 14-yard gain for a first down, fullback Malcolm Johnson took the first carry of his NFL career and fumbled it to the Redskins. Washington promptly responded with its first touchdown drive since the first quarter, going 91 yards on 10 plays to take the lead.
On the next possession, Duke Johnson Jr. fumbled at midfield. The Browns defense stuffed Washington to force a punt, but Cody Kessler's first career interception on the ensuing possession, nabbed in the air by Pro Bowl defensive back Josh Norman, set up a Redskins' touchdown that sealed Cleveland's fourth loss of the season.
Since Kessler's fumble on last week's opening drive, the Browns played largely clean football during the rest of the Miami game the first two quarters and a half Sunday. One bad stretch was all it took, though, to completely change the course against the Redskins.
Reed, non-wide receivers, hidden yardage hurt Browns D
Tight ends have been a trouble spot for the Browns defense throughout the season, and one of the best in the business continued that trend Sunday.
Jordan Reed was on the receiving end of both of Kirk Cousins' first quarter touchdown passes. He had seven receptions for 58 yards in the first half, alone, and finished with nine receptions for 73 yards. The Browns allowed just four receptions to wide receivers in the first half but stopped the Redskins just once, when Jamar Taylor intercepted Cousins to set up a game-tying touchdown.
Reed's touchdowns were the first by a tight end against the Cleveland defense this season, but the position has been on the receiving end of numerous big plays and first downs. Zach Ertz had six receptions for 58 yards in Week 1, Dennis Pitta had nine receptions for 102 yards in the home opener and Miami backup Dion Sims had four for 46.
The Redskins had just seven receptions for 65 yards by wide receivers. That paled in comparison by the hidden yardage created by two pass interference calls on deep balls to DeSean Jackson. The Redskins picked up a combined 71 yards on the calls, and both penalties came on drives that ended with touchdowns.
Big effort from Crowell overshadowed in loss
Crowell had the Browns running game rolling Sunday, and there were stretches where he's never looked better in a Cleveland uniform.
Entering Sunday's game tied for second in the league in rushing yards, Crowell finished at the top after compiling 112 yards on just 15 carries and 22 yards on three receptions. He found most of his success up the middle, where guards Joel Bitonio and John Greco and center Austin Reiter provided big lanes for him to plow through. When the openings weren't there, like when he made something out of nothing on his 14-yard catch, Crowell constantly fell forward and kept the Browns out of negative yardage situations.
Cleveland finished with 163 rushing yards. The Browns have cleared 100 rushing yards in each of their first four games after having just six such games all of last season.
The Browns play the Redskins in Week 4.