Offensive second half led to loss

A lot of factors went into the Cleveland Browns blowing a 17-7 halftime lead in a 31-17 loss to the Detroit Lions.

Brandon Weeden had a Benny Hill moment, and the Browns' defense did not adjust to Detroit’s adjustment.

But the offense contributed as well, gaining all of 6 yards in the third quarter and totaling one first down the first 24 minutes of the second half.

Cleveland’s third-quarter drives went this way:

  • Three plays, 9 yards and punt.

  • Three plays, 6 yards (5 on a Detroit penalty) and punt.

  • Three plays with a sack to end the quarter, and a punt on the first play of the fourth.

The final 15 minutes were not a lot prettier. When the Browns followed their first first down of the half with an intentional grounding penalty, Weeden made a nice throw to the sidelines to Greg Little, who came very close to making a leaping catch but was ruled out of bounds. Coach Rob Chudzinski challenged the call, but referee Walt Coleman did not overrule.

Detroit drove for the go-ahead touchdown after the Browns punt, and the Browns' next possession went from the Cleveland 16 to the Detroit 44 before Weeden threw the backhand flip heard 'round Northeast Ohio.

“Our energy wasn’t there,” said tight end Jordan Cameron. “It was just one of those things where we were flat the second half.”


The Browns also had some interesting play calling in the second half. They ran once on each of the first three possessions, and did not call a run in the fourth quarter until there was just 1:17 left in the game.

Down 21-17, the Browns called four passes in a row.

Down 24-17, they called five passes in a row.

The argument could be made that the Browns did not have a running game to rely on, but down four and down seven are not panic situations. Cleveland ran for 115 yards on 16 carries in the first half -- 45 on a reverse by Travis Benjamin -- but ran just five times for 11 yards in the second half.

The Browns weren’t getting much of anything done offensively, so that may explain some of the numbers. But the Browns combined a scoreless, 145-yard second half effort with a defense that gave up 24 points and 257 yards. Little wonder the score was what it was.