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Final Score: Browns 26, Falcons 24


ATLANTA – In a critical, must-win, late November game, the Cleveland Browns were able to overcome two ill-advised fourth-quarter turnovers and rally for a 26-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons on a 39-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff on the last play of the game at the Georgia Dome.
It is the first time since 2008 that the Browns have won two straight games on the road. At 7-4, it also helps them stay within a half-game of the Bengals in the AFC North.
Cundiff kicked four field goals but his last one proved to be the difference. After a Matt Bryant 53-yard field goal with 49 seconds remaining gave the Falcons a one-point lead, Brian Hoyer was 4 of 7 for 61 yards on the game-winning drive. Josh Gordon, who had eight receptions for 120 yards in his first game back, had a 24-yard reception on the third play of the drive to move the ball into Falcons territory with 24 seconds left. A 15-yard reception to Gary Barnidge and 11-yard completion to Miles Austin then moved it into range for Cundiff.
Hoyer was 23 of 40 for 322 yards and bounced back from tying a career high with three interceptions, including two in the fourth. The later interception led to the Bryant field goal.
The running game posted 162 yards and averaged 5.6 yards per carry. Isaiah Crowell, who had two touchdowns and 88 yards on 12 carries and was the engine who propelled the Browns when they needed to move the chains in the second half. Terrance West posted 62 yards on some tough running up the middle. With extra attention being paid to Gordon, Andrew Hawkins had five receptions for 93 yards.
The Browns were unsuccessfully knocking on the door for the entire afternoon, so much so, it seemed like Cleveland was going to leave Atlanta with a sour taste in their mouth.
In the second quarter the Browns forced two turnovers – a Joe Haden interception and a Paul Kruger sack-fumble, both in Atlanta territory – but Cleveland walked away disappointed with two Cundiff field goals.
In the third quarter, a Hoyer crossing pattern to Andrew Hawkins turned into a gorgeous 40-yard dash from the receiver. But again, Hoyer was sacked on third-and-goal by Kory Biermann and another drive was halted in its tracks. The frustration was mounting on the Cleveland sideline.
With another drive hanging in the balance late in the third quarter, Crowell – in front of family and friends in his home state of Georgia – took control. On second-and-7, Crowell careened his way to the right, to the left, shaking several Falcons would-be tacklers on his way to a 27-yard touchdown run – his seventh of the season. The score put the Browns up 23-14.
On a day where Matt Ryan was 27 of 43 for 273 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, Atlanta's run game was basically irrelevant and held to 2.7 yards per carry -- it was the Browns' defensive effort at the forefront. Kruger added another sack in the third quarter and Ahtyba Rubin notched one of his own. Craig Robertson and Chris Kirksey filled in admirably for the injured Karlos Dansby.
Cleveland's secondary, the bread-and-butter unit of the team, had more trouble with bulky veteran Roddy White than they did Julio Jones. White ended up with nine receptions for 96 yards while Jones was held to five catches for 68 yards and a touchdown.
The magic that Hoyer and the offense responded with in the first quarter, following a 24-yard Jones touchdown, was impressive. That 10-play, 57-yard drive, which ended in an Crowell 11-yard touchdown run, was crisp and full of quick-hitting passes – Josh Gordon caught two on the drive for 36 yards.
Just before the half, the Falcons would get a chance of their own – and they made it count. Brian Hoyer lofted a pass right into the hands of Atlanta safety Kemal Ishmael and seven plays later running back Jacquizz Rodgers was dancing in the end zone after an eight-yard touchdown reception.
On the scoreboard, it didn't look too bad. Atlanta walked into the locker room at halftime with a 14-13 lead. But in reality, the mistakes from Cleveland in the second quarter totaled up to a 21-point swing. The Browns were still able to overcome all of this for the win.
The one large concerning note was a knee injury to Tashaun Gipson. The safety was carted off the field early in the fourth quarter after colliding with Haden on a pass breakup in the end zone.
Next week the Browns will face the Buffalo Bills (5-5) – although the location and time have yet to be determined. Most of the city of Buffalo is still shutdown because of two blizzards the area received last week.

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