Analyzing four key moments from the Browns’ 20-3 loss to the Bears...
- The conditions were sloppy in Sunday’s first half, and the Bears took advantage of a couple of Browns’ miscues en route to an early touchdown.
The first-quarter drive started off in favorable field position because of Tarik Cohen’s 28-yard punt return. The Bears moved quickly into Browns territory when Mitchell Trubisky rolled out and connected with tight end Dion Sims for a 24-yard gain. Faced with a second-and-14 after a botched exchange, the Bears picked up 19 yards on back-to-back scrambles. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Carl Nassib got the Bears inside the 10-yard line, and Jordan Howard finished off the nine-play drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.
Nassib got his hand on Chicago’s extra-point attempt to keep the score at 6-0, but it would be a lead the Bears would not relinquish.
- After scuffling in the snow through the first quarter, Cleveland got something going in the second quarter. What followed was the team’s longest drive of the game and an all too familiar ending.
The Browns’ march from their own 22-yard line was simply methodical, as they picked up four first downs without gaining more than 8 yards on a single play. The Browns moved into field goal range on an 8-yard pass to Josh Gordon, a 5-yard run by Duke Johnson Jr. and a 6-yard carry by Isaiah Crowell. Faced with second-and-4 at the Bears’ 28, DeShone Kizer looked toward the end zone for Gordon. The ball sailed well out of Gordon’s reach and into the arms of Kyle Fuller, who trotted out of the back of the end zone for a deflating touchback.
The Browns came away with some points at the end of the first half, as a 35-yard Ricardo Louis reception set up a 48-yard Zane Gonzalez field goal. The lead was sliced in half, 6-3.
The Browns play the Chicago Bears in Week 16.
- Two plays into the second half, the Browns defense not only had the turnover it’d been coveting for weeks, but also a game-changing touchdown when Myles Garrett nabbed a Trubisky pass out of the air and rumbled his way into the end zone.
It lasted all of a few seconds, as a costly offsides penalty nullified everything.
Nassib lined up inside the neutral zone to draw the offsides penalty. Four plays later, the Bears were in the Browns’ end zone to extend their lead to double digits.
After back-to-back Howard runs were stuffed at the line of scrimmage, Chicago got one of its biggest offensive plays of the game on a third-down screen pass. Benny Cunningham’s 40-yard catch-and-run directly preceded Howard’s 16-yard touchdown run.
- Trailing 20-3, the Browns were simply looking to slice into Chicago’s lead near the end of the third quarter. They got right on the cusp after some big plays by Duke Johnson Jr., but another red zone turnover prevented Cleveland from putting any points on the board.
Cleveland was motoring on its most efficient drive of the game after 29- and 15-yard receptions by Johnson. The third-year running back officially put the Browns back in the red zone with a 7-yard carry.
Faced with a third-and-3, Kizer found Rashard Higgins, who made a diving catch to come up with the ball, juked multiple defenders and then plowed forward toward the end zone. As he careened toward the ground, linebacker Danny Trevathan stripped the ball away and sent it tumbling into the end zone. Bears defensive back Prince Amukamara recovered it for the touchback, putting an unfortunate end to Cleveland’s last significant scoring chance.