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Browns eliminated from playoff contention in loss to Saints

On a record-cold day at FirstEnergy Stadium, the Browns were unable to score crucial second-half points against the Saints


The Browns fought through record-cold weather, high winds and a frozen field but fell, 17-10, to the Saints on a Christmas Eve Saturday at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The game was the coldest regular season home game in Browns history with a kickoff temperature of 6 degrees and wind chill temperature of minus-16 degrees.

The Browns struck first on the scoreboard with a 12-yard touchdown run from Deshaun Watson, his first rushing TD as the Browns' starting QB, and a 30-yard field goal from Cade York. The Saints, however, rallied back with 17 unanswered points, beginning with a 23-yard field goal, an 8-yard touchdown run from Taysom Hill and a 4-yard touchdown run from RB Alvin Kamara.

The Browns drove into Saints territory late in the game, but three straight incompletions from Watson and a sack on the final offensive play of the game sealed the loss. In his fourth start with the Browns, Watson completed 15-of-31 passes for 135 yards, no passing touchdowns and one interception.

The Browns' record is now 6-9, and they are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

Moment that mattered most: On the second drive of the second half, Watson dropped back for a pass and looked to connect with WR David Bell. The pass bounced off Bell's hands, however, and into the grasp of Saints S Daniel Sorensen, who returned the ball 36 yards to the Browns' 15-yard line. The Saints turned the interception into the go-ahead and game-winning touchdown four plays later with a 4-yard run from Kamara.

Player of the game: Grant Delpit, who gave the Browns their first big play of the game with an interception on a deflected pass from Saints QB Andy Dalton. Delpit also made a 40-yard return on the play, which gave the Browns great field position for their next drive. Cleveland turned it into a touchdown. Delpit's interception was also the defense's eighth turnover in the last four games.

Stat of the game: 47.1. That was the passer rating from Watson, the lowest in a game in his career. The weather certainly contributed to that, and Watson was forced to pass more than the Browns likely would've preferred in the conditions because they were behind on the scoreboard late in the game.

The game was decided when: On fourth-and-10 from the Saints' 15-yard line with no timeouts and 26 seconds left, Watson took a sack. He had looked to the end zone on his three pass attempts prior, but all of them were incomplete, and the Browns chances of winning were eliminated.

What's next?: The Browns hit the road for the first of their final two games of the regular season. They'll head to Landover, Maryland, to play the Washington Commanders next Sunday at 1 p.m.

Check out photos of the Browns against the Saints in Week 16

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