One bad drive, a big play and the cumulation of plays took a toll on the Browns defense Sunday.
Ultimately, what happened to the Browns defense Sunday was more than enough, as Philadelphia accumulated 29 points and 403 yards en route to its victory. But there were moments, stretches and plays to build off as the unit prepares for a home opener against the Baltimore Ravens in which it hopes to eliminate the moments that marred Sunday's 2016 debut
"We knew what we were up against and we felt like if we played the type of defense we know we can play that guys shouldn't score that many points on us," veteran defensive back Tramon Williams said. "Really that's the way it was after the first drive … it just didn't mesh today so we've got to go back to the drawing board and come back and try to be better."
After an opening drive that saw Philadelphia march 75 yards on nine plays, score a touchdown and take a lead it wouldn't relinquish, the Browns defense was better throughout the rest of Sunday's game. Over the next six possessions, the Browns buckled down and allowed just two field goals, keeping the offense within a touchdown or less until the midpoint of the third quarter.
Included during that stretch was a nice response to some murky field position following a failed Browns fake punt. Cleveland surrendered a 28-yard pass on the ensuing play but followed with a stand inside the 10-yard line to force a field goal.
"It put the defense in a tough spot," Browns coach Hue Jackson said. "I thought the defense responded by holding them to a field goal."
Cleveland forced just one three-and-out during its best stretch of the game, but it made everything just a little more difficult for rookie quarterback Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense, the goal coming into Sunday's opener.
The turning point, though, came midway through the third quarter. Following an impressive stop from the defense at midfield, the Browns got the ball back at their 15-yard line trailing 13-10. An errant Cameron Erving snap that sailed out of the end zone for a safety put the defense back on the field and in a position where it needed to regather the momentum.
Given an opportunity on fourth-and-5 from their own 40, the Browns allowed Wentz to complete a pass to tight end Zach Ertz for a first down. On the next play, Wentz connected with Nelson Agholor on a 35-yard touchdown pass that put the Eagles fully in command of the game.
"With us, we have to get off the field on third down," defensive back Joe Haden said. "Not making stupid penalties when it is third-and-short, getting offsides, holding calls, stuff that can make a drive longer. We have to lock in, start winning the battle on first down and second down. Then making sure when it is third-and-short or third-and-long, making sure we get off the field."
The Browns surrendered their final touchdown late in the fourth quarter after the offense failed to convert a fourth down from its own 15-yard line. Ryan Mathews' 1-yard touchdown run was the 77th and final play run against the Browns defense.
Cleveland's offense ran 52 plays and possessed the ball for 20:40 of 60 minutes.
"I think we have to get better running the ball on offense so we can take care of our defense a little bit better," Jackson said. "There are things to improve as a football team, obviously.
"I never said we were going to go 16-0. So we have given up one; one that I felt that our guys had a chance until things went kind of awry. So we have to grow from this and get better. And we will. So I am looking forward to next week."