The Browns rallied from a 28-3 second-quarter deficit with 26 unanswered points for a 29-28 victory at LP Field to end a seven-game road-losing streak. It is the biggest comeback in team history and biggest lead squandered in Titans' history.
After forcing a turnover on downs with 3 minutes, 3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Browns went 42 yards in four plays, capping the drive when Brian Hoyer found Travis Benjamin in the back of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown pass with 1:09 remaining.
The first half resembled Week 1 at Pittsburgh -- a train wreck on defense and little help to go along with it on offense. The Titans racked up 28 points in the first 30 minutes exposing the Browns' defense in all aspects – running, passing and effort.
But just like at Heinz Field in the opener the Browns sprung to life starting late in the first half. The defense began forcing three-and-outs. Hoyer activated his arm tossing darts to Andrew Hawkins and a long ball to Taylor Gabriel. And the Browns rediscovered their identity as a smashmouth football team – feeding all three backs in Ben Tate, Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West.
Trailing 28-13 the Browns twice got inside the Titans' red zone and failed to convert on fourth-down conversions. With 4:14 left in the third quarter, Tennessee cornerback Coty Sensabaugh deflected a Hoyer pass intended for Hawkins to the turf. But the dagger came with 12:52 left in the fourth quarter. Cleveland had the football inside the Titans' 5. On three straight passes, Hoyer was errant on what would have been a touchdown to Hawkins, threw another out of the end zone and on fourth-down, had his pass batted down at the line.
After that though the Browns found their second wind. Tank Carder blocked a Brett Kern punt for a safety and Benjamin, who muffed a punt in the third quarter, then caught two touchdowns from Hoyer.
Third-downs – The Titans were 8-for-14; the Browns were 4-for-12. Up until the Browns were able to secure the lead, it was going to the nail in the coffin. But Cleveland was still able to prevail.
Key stat II
Hoyer threw his first interception in 189 attempts in the fourth quarter on a pass intended for Hawkins. The defense though was able to force a stop.
Key stat III Hoyer was 8 of 14 for 103 yards with two touchdowns and an interception the fourth quarter. He completed passes to six different receivers in the final 15 minutes.
Player of the game
Travis Benjamin – After muffing a punt in the third quarter, Benjamin had two huge touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Hoyer found him all along for a 17-yard score and then caught a 6-yard pass from Hoyer in the back of the end zone on the game-winning drive.
Third down and 10 with 5:30 left in the second quarter – The Browns needed their defense to get off the field. The Titans were just outside of field goal range. Wide receiver Justin Hunter was matched up one-on-one with cornerback Joe Haden. Jake Locker fired a quick pass to Hunter right at the line of scrimmage. Joe Haden hesitated to tackle Hunter and he bolted right past the defense. It was only a 12-yard gain but the Titans would eventually go on to score a touchdown and take a commanding 21-3 lead.
With 3-09 remaining in the game and with one timeout remaining, Mike Pettine challenged the spot on what was originally ruled a first down by Delanie Walker. On the review though Walker's arm was less than a yard shy of a first down. On fourth-and-1 from the Titans 42, Charlie Whitehurst was stopped short by Donte Whitner and Jabaal Sheard and the Browns took over in Tennessee territory with 3:09 remaining. Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt challenged the spot and lost, costing Tennessee a timeout. When they took over late in the fourth quarter trailing by one, they had just one time out remaining.
Turning Point II
Benjamin muffed a punt at the Browns 35 with 1:36 remaining at the third quarter. It was recovered by Michael Huff but Huff was ruled out of bounds trying to come down field on the return and didn't make an immediate effort to return in bounds. The Titans had to rekick and Jordan Poyer fielded the punt for no gain.
Missed tackles – Tennessee bullied the Browns all throughout the first half running all over the defense. In addition to Wright's performance, Locker used his legs as a weapon. The quarterback dashed into the end zone on a 11-yard scramble early in the second quarter. The Titans realized the Browns weren't tackling well and just kept running harder and harder. It was easy to tell the home team was giving a stronger effort.
Big issue II
Penalties – The Browns had seven for 74. Joe Haden had a gigantic pass interference call that extended a Titans drive, eventually leading to a touchdown. A holding call wiped out a sizeable kick return from Marlon Moore. Buster Skrine was flagged for a holding call on a running play. And the Browns lost their cool, engaging in a shoving match with Tennessee following a Titans touchdown.
Big day from
Ben Tate – His 77 first half yards kept the Browns afloat. Tate ran with energy and was rarely was tackled on first-contact. He finished with 123 yards on 22 carries.