1) Browns win turnover battle but can't capitalize vs. Arizona
The formula for success against one of the NFC's best teams was clear.
Coming into Sunday's game, Arizona was plus-11 in the turnover battle in the five games it won and minus-6 in the two games it lost.
The Browns got the turnovers they needed -- four, to be exact -- but didn't come away with the desired result because they were only able to turn one into points.
Those points came off the first, as Armonty Bryant rumbled to the 9-yard line after he scooped up the first of two Chris Johnson fumbles during Sunday's second half. The Cleveland offense capitalized on third-and-goal with a Brian Hartline touchdown to tie the score.
K'Waun Williams' forced fumble of Larry Fitzgerald late in the second quarter was significant, as it stopped Arizona inside the Browns' 10-yard line, but the Browns followed it up with a three-and-out and punted it back to the Cardinals. Arizona took advantage of a short punt, made a few plays and cashed in with a field goal at the end of the half.
With Arizona up 24-20 in the third quarter, Tashaun Gipson intercepted Palmer at the Browns' 34. The Cleveland offense followed with a three-and-out.
The margin was the same late in the third quarter when Johnson fumbled a second time, this one forced by Bryant and recovered by Johnson Bademosi at the Cardinals' 28-yard line. Two plays later, Arizona had the ball back after a Josh McCown interception in the end zone.
"Just made a couple of mistakes," center Alex Mack said. "We had opportunities to make plays and the Cardinals did a really good job of coming up with the play."
The Browns came into Sunday's game with just nine forced turnovers in seven games. That total jumped dramatically against the Cardinals, but the result was similarly frustrating because Carson Palmer and the Arizona offense was able to score 27 unanswered points from the 2-second mark of the second quarter until the final whistle.
"It's more than just turning the ball over," Gipson said. "We've got to get off the field on third down. We can't give up the big plays."
2) More injuries in Cleveland's secondary
Within a span of a few plays, Cleveland once again saw two of its Pro Bowl defensive backs leave the field with an injury.
Cornerback Joe Haden, who missed the past two games with a concussion, suffered another one at the end of Michael Floyd's 60-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. On the ensuing possession, safety Donte Whitner suffered a concussion.
The Browns were already without safety Jordan Poyer because of a shoulder injury. Rookie Ibraheim Campbell filled in for Whitner while Bademosi stepped in for Haden.
Linebacker Nate Orchard "banged his shoulder," Browns coach Mike Pettine said.
The status of all three defensive players, along with McCown, who is sore from taking a shot to the ribs, will be updated Monday.
3) 3rd downs a dagger for Browns D
In Cleveland's previous three games, opponents converted just 10-of-41 third downs. It was a mark that moved the Browns to third overall in the AFC in third-down defense.
On Sunday, Arizona set the tone with three third-down conversions on its opening drive of the game on its way to going 13-of-16.
The Browns offense kept up for a bit, scoring all three of its touchdowns on third-and-goal and moving the sticks when it needed to in a 20-point first half. It just couldn't maintain Arizona's pace in a scoreless second half.
"We regressed big time," Gipson said. "I can't think of a time we got off the field on third down … it's not a tribute to anything they did, it's not playcalling or anything like that. Whatever the call may be, you just got to go out and play, compete and you can't get beat on third down … That just can't happen if you want to be a good defense."
4) Hartline, Barnidge lead the way through the air
McCown targeted the player he connected with most during the preseason and the one he's relied on most during the regular season to lead the Browns offense to 20 first-half points.
Hartline caught his first two touchdowns of the season on short passes inside the 10-yard line. It marked the first two-touchdown game of his career and extended his streak of catching at least one touchdown in each of his seven NFL seasons.
Gary Barnidge led the Browns with seven receptions, 53 yards and his sixth touchdown of the season. He's three touchdowns shy of Ozzie Newsome's single-season record for tight ends (1979). On the year, Barnidge has 40 receptions for 567 yards.
5) A first for everything
Browns kicker Travis Coons got his first miss out of the way eight games into his rookie season.
Coons was wide right on his extra point following Cleveland's third touchdown of the first half. Coons, who did not attempt a field goal Sunday, is one of five kickers in the NFL who has yet to miss a field goal. He's 13-of-14 on extra points.