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4 Turning Points: Browns can't recover from another early deficit

Analyzing four key moments in the Browns’ 31-7 loss to the Bengals.

  1. Midway through the first quarter, Britton Colquitt sent a booming, 53-yard punt that had Adam Jones backpedaling.

Jones righted himself, made one move and set up the Bengals with the kind of short field that leads to trouble. The veteran’s 40-yard return was by far the longest surrendered by Cleveland this season and ultimately preceded the first of three unanswered Bengals touchdowns.

The Browns made them work for it, as the Bengals used nine plays to go 35 yards and punched it in the end zone with a 7-yard pass by Andy Dalton to A.J. Green. The next two Bengals’ touchdown drives stretched more than 80 yards.

It was an unfortunate swing for the Browns, who started off the game in promising position with an Emmanuel Ogbah strip sack but once again found themselves on the wrong side of an early deficit.

  1. The Browns’ best offensive possession of the first half had them on the doorstep of evening the score, 7-7, early in the second quarter.

Instead, Cleveland came away with nothing after a costly drop-turned-interception.

Facing a third-and-9 at the Bengals’ 16-yard line, DeShone Kizer fired a pass to Kenny Britt, whose 26-yard catch on third-and-long earlier in the possession got Cleveland inside field-goal range. The pass caromed off Britt’s chest and hands before it landed in the arms of safety Clayton Fejedelem.

Cincinnati took control from that point forward, driving 88 yards on 13 plays to take a two-touchdown lead.

  1. The Browns were in position to trail by 14 at the half for a third consecutive week, but the Bengals’ biggest play of the game made it even worse.

With 1:21 to play in the second quarter, Dalton found running back Giovani Bernard on a short screen pass. Bernard looked up field and saw just green grass and black jerseys. He ran largely untouched for a 61-yard touchdown.

It marked the second straight week the Browns surrendered a pass play of 60 yards, and both went for crushing touchdowns.

  1. Had a challenge gone in Cleveland’s favor during the third quarter, the Browns would have had the big defensive play they needed.

Instead, the call stood, and the Bengals eventually converted the drive into more points.

Jason McCourty knocked down an attempted Dalton pass to Green, picked it up from the ground and ran it back for a touchdown. Officials blew the play dead, calling it an incomplete pass even though replays indicated it could have been considered a backward throw. Ultimately, there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the call, and the Bengals kept possession.

The Bengals kicked their first field goal of the game shortly thereafter to take a 24-0 lead.

The Browns take on the Cincinnati Bengals at home in Week 4.

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