The Browns have exceled at home this season, and Sunday proved to be another memorable time at Cleveland Browns Stadium, as Cleveland rallied late in the fourth quarter with 13 points to beat the Bears, 20-17. They improved to 9-5 on the season and 7-1 at home.
While they dealt with a number of offensive struggles through the first three quarters, they continued to fight on. They sealed the win with plays on both sides of the ball, as K Dustin Hopkins hit a 34-yard field goal with 32 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. Then, defensively, the Browns got a major defensive stop with an interception on a Hail Mary in the end zone to seal the game.
The Browns capped off a solid defensive performance with an interception in the end zone in the final seconds of the game. As Bears QB Justin Fields threw a Hail Mary pass into the end zone, it bounced among both Bears and Browns' players before S D'Anthony Bell caught the ball for the game-sealing interception.
Cleveland also had some big defensive stops in the fourth quarter that helped revive the offense. With 10:51 left in the fourth quarter, Alex Wright tackled WR Tyler Scott for a loss of 3 yards and to force the Bears to punt. Then, with 6:56 left, LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah sacked Fields for a loss of 11 yards and would force the Bears to punt two plays later.
The Browns found their offensive stride in the fourth quarter, as QB Joe Flacco connected with WR Amari Cooper for a 51-yard touchdown pass with 3:17 left in the game. Flacco found Cooper, who caught the pass in traffic, turned and stayed inbounds as he ran down the field into the end zone for the touchdown. The extra point tied the game at 17 a piece.
After another defensive stop, the Browns drove down the field one more time with two big receptions — 31 yards and 34 yards — by David Njoku. The latter put the Browns well inside Hopkins' range, and his kick with 32 seconds to play gave the Browns their first lead of the game.
Yet, the Browns dealt with a number of offensive issues in the passing game on Sunday, as Flacco threw a total of three interceptions. On the Browns first offensive play of the second half, Flacco's pass was picked off by LB Tremaine Edmunds, who returned the interception 45 yards for the touchdown. It gave the Bears a 14-7 lead with 13:50 left in the third quarter.
After Flacco threw an interception in the second quarter — which the Bears returned and set them up in the red zone for a touchdown — the Browns responded on their next offensive drive. Flacco threw a deep pass to Cooper for 42 yards to move them downfield.
Then, as the Browns were in the red zone, Flacco scrambled, looking for an open pass catcher. As he ran, he located Njoku in the back of the end zone, who made the catch and stayed inbounds for the touchdown. It tied the game at 7-7 with 3:54 left in the first half.
Player of the Game:
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Owusu-Koramoah had some key defensive plays throughout the game, topping of his game with a sack on Fields for a loss of 11 yards in the fourth quarter. Owusu-Koramoah finished the game with six tackles – including two tackles for loss – as well as a quarterback hurry, two passes defended and an interception.
TE David Njoku
Njoku had two key receptions in the fourth quarter that played a factor in the Browns winning on Sunday. With 56 seconds left, Njoku caught a pass from Flacco and ran for 34 yards on the completion to set the Browns up in solid field position. It eventually set the Browns up for the game-winning field goal. He also scored the first touchdown for the Browns on Sunday on a catch in the end zone from Flacco. He finished the game with 104 receiving yards on 10 receptions and one touchdown.
Stat of the Game:
Flacco threw for 374 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He finished with a passer rating of 77.3.
What does it mean?
It's an important win for the Browns considering all the injuries they have endured – not only with the injuries throughout the week, but also during the game. The Browns are dealing with a banged-up offensive line that had its struggles on Sunday. However, Flacco showcased his veteran experience in how he worked through throwing three interceptions and being sacked four times. The Browns defense also lived up to its standard, especially dealing with injuries of their own. It's an important win in their playoff push through the final four games of the regular season. The Browns also improve to 7-1 at home, which leads the AFC.
The Browns will travel to Houston to face the Texans on Dec. 24. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. EST.