TAMPA — The Browns were back in a familiar place Sunday. The end result, though, brought a familiar sting for a team that’s been on the wrong end of a number of dramatic finishes.
In a back-and-forth overtime, Tampa Bay came out on top when kicker Chandler Catanzaro made an improbable 59-yard field goal with 1:50 to play in the extra period to send Cleveland to a 26-23 loss.
The loss was Cleveland’s second straight and third in its last four games. The Browns are 2-4-1 heading into the midpoint of the season. They’ve already played four overtime games this season, and are 1-2-1 in them.
Down by 14 entering the fourth quarter, Cleveland, led by a bounce-back performance from rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, rattled off two touchdowns to tie the score with 2:28 to play. Catanzaro missed a 40-yard field goal at the end of regulation to send it to overtime.
Mayfield and the entire Browns offense struggled in the first half but came to life in the final 30 minutes to send the game to overtime. The rookie finished with 215 yards and two touchdowns on 23-of-34 passing and added a 35-yard scramble in the fourth quarter.
In position to potentially tie it up midway through the fourth quarter, Cleveland was stuffed at the goal line. The Browns threw incomplete on second down, ran it to the 1-yard line on third and was rejected on fourth when Mayfield’s sneak attempt was stuffed by Adarius Taylor. The Browns, though, got immediate redemption after a defensive stop, a 33-yard Jabrill Peppers punt return and a 16-yard touchdown catch by Jarvis Landry to tie the score, 23-23.
In overtime, Cleveland's offense went three-and-out on both of its series. A fumble by Jabrill Peppers on a punt return set up the Buccaneers with prime field position midway through the extra period. Back-to-back sacks kept Tampa Bay outside of field goal range before a 14-yard reception by DeSean Jackson set up the Buccaneers at the 41 for the game-winning attempt. Catanzaro had plenty to spare on the second-longest field goal of his career.
Cleveland’s offense, after a first half in which it labored to move the ball, finally got on the board early in the second half after the defense’s third takeaway, a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Genard Avery. Mayfield connected with David Njoku on a 15-yard touchdown pass with 13:01 left in the third quarter to slice into the Buccaneers’ 14-point halftime lead. The Buccaneers responded at the end of the third quarter with a 13-play, 75-yard drive that took 6:30 off the clock and was capped by a Ronald Jones touchdown run.
Rookie running back Nick Chubb, filling the start role after Friday’s trade of Carlos Hyde, scored his third touchdown of the season early in the fourth quarter and finished with 80 yards.
The Browns scored first for just the second time this season when Trevon Coley dropped Peyton Barber inside the Buccaneers end zone for a safety early in the first quarter. Cleveland’s offense couldn’t build on the momentum, and the Browns’ bend-but-don’t-break defense didn’t get the big plays they needed, as Tampa Bay rattled off 16 unanswered points. The Buccaneers outgained the Browns, 243-74, in the first half and, during one stretch, forced the Browns into three consecutive three-and-outs.
Player of the game: Quarterback Jameis Winston was the conductor of a balanced Buccaneers offensive attack. Though he tossed two interceptions, he threw for 365 yards and was one of three Tampa Bay players to find the end zone with his feet en route to snapping the Buccaneers’ three-game losing streak.
Best from the Browns: Landry, who was held to an uncharacteristic two catches last week, led the way with 10 receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown.
Key moment: With 3:12 to play in the overtime period and Cleveland poised to get the ball back with a shot to score, Peppers fumbled on the punt return at midfield. The Browns never got the ball back.
Stat of the game: Winston completed passes to 11 different receivers, and that didn’t include speedy veteran DeSean Jackson until there were 7 minutes to play in overtime. Rookie Denzel Ward marked him for most of the game.
Who’s next?: The Browns stay on the road for a pivotal division matchup with the Steelers at Heinz Field.
The Cleveland Browns play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Week 7.