The Browns entered Sunday's game against the Rams having to start their fourth quarterback of the season. They relied on the veteran experience of QB Joe Flacco at the helm to steady their offense but a late-game interception proved detrimental and the defense could not steady the ship.
The Browns lost, 36-19, to the Rams, giving them back-to-back defeats on their West Coast road trip.
The Browns fall to 7-5 and have lost two consecutive games for the first time this season.
The Browns offense got off to a great start, as they marched down the field on their opening drive. Flacco connected with multiple pass-catchers, and they also ran the ball with Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt to move the chains. Flacco then found a wide-open Ford for a 24-yard touchdown, giving the Browns a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.
The Rams answered later in the first quarter. With 4:08 left the period, QB Matthew Stafford connected with WR Puka Nacua for a 70-yard touchdown pass. It gave the Rams a 10-7 lead over the Browns.
The Rams broke a 13-13 tie with 39 seconds left in the third when Stafford connected with WR Demarcus Robinson on a 7-yard touchdown pass, giving the Rams a 20-13 lead.
Yet, the Browns found a way to answer, as they marched down the field to set them up in the red zone before Flacco connected with TE Harrison Bryant on an 8-yard touchdown pass. Dustin Hopkins missed the extra point, pinning the Rams to a 20-19 lead with 8:49 left in the game.
The Rams defense came up with a big takeaway late in the fourth quarter as S John Johnson III picked off a Flacco deep ball and returned it 42 yards. It set the Rams up with great field position, and the Rams offense turned the turnover into a touchdown by WR Cooper Kupp to give the Rams a 27-19 lead.
The Rams padded their lead with another touchdown and a safety in the final minutes.
Player of the Game:
Moore has a history with Flacco, and their chemistry was on display throughout Sunday's game. Moore hauled in a 42-yard pass and finished with a team-best four receptions for 83 yards.
Stat of the Game:
With his 24-yard field goal in the third quarter, Hopkins tied Phil Dawson (2008) for the most fields goals by a Browns kicker in a single season with 30.
What does it mean?
For Flacco's first game at the helm, it was a decent showing of what he can contribute. Flacco believed he had "a lot left in the tank," and OC Alex Van Pelt had a high level of confidence in Flacco's throwing ability after the week of practice. Throughout the game, Flacco showed just that. He made smart decisions and found his pass catchers, spreading the ball around to multiple players. He threw deep passes and moved the ball downfield. He finished the game completing 23-of-44 passes for 254 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and one sack. The late-game interception was a tough pill to swallow, considering how well Flacco played in his first game with the Browns for a majority of the game.
As the Browns work through their quarterback situation and handle Dorian Thompson-Robinson's health, this gave them a taste of what Flacco can provide to the team.
The Browns return home for the first of two consecutive home games. In Week 14, they will host the Jaguars at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Dec. 10. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.