Familiar fourth quarter fails has Browns' season slipping away

BEREA, Ohio -- Saturday night against the Green Bay Packers, the Cleveland Browns found themselves in a familiar spot. In a fourth quarter against a quality opponent, and with a chance for a game-winning drive in the final moments.

And the ending proved all too painfully familiar, as well.

The Packers -- with the aid of a holding no-call -- intercepted Baker Mayfield, handing Cleveland its sixth loss this season of six or fewer points while placing the Browns in perilous position for the playoffs.

If Cleveland does miss the postseason, the inability to finish games off or win them in the closing minutes will be among the biggest reasons why. On Monday, coach Kevin Stefanski called it one of the most “frustrating” parts of a season that is on the precipice of becoming one of the most disappointing in Browns history.

“Obviously, this is the NFL, the games are going to be close,” Stefanski said. “We have to find a way to come through, and I have to find a way to come through for the team when we are in those moments. That’s really the frustration.”

It's a frustration that has plagued the Browns all year, especially Mayfield, who is 0-for-5 on potential game-winning drives this season and now owns a fourth-quarter QBR of 23.4, which is last in the league among qualifying quarterbacks.

The season-opening performance against the AFC champion-defending Kansas City Chiefs portended a looming banner season for the Browns -- at least until the final drive. Cleveland led for much of the game in Kansas City, though fell apart in the fourth quarter. The Browns still had a shot to win on the final drive. But Mayfield was tripped as he attempted a pass that ultimately resulted in a game-ending interception.

In Week 5 at the Los Angeles Chargers, the Browns couldn’t put the Chargers away while ahead late in the fourth, then couldn’t muster their own game-winning drive after L.A. took the lead.

In Week 8 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland’s potential go-ahead possession in the final two minutes came up empty on a fourth-down incompletion in Steelers territory.

In Week 12 at the Baltimore Ravens, the Browns went four-and-out on their final drive with another chance to pull a game out late.

Then in the last week alone, Cleveland suffered a pair of heartbreakers, including last Monday’s loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, who won the game as time expired on a 48-yard field goal.

If the Browns somehow win just one of those fourth-quarter games, their playoff situation would look differently heading into the final two weeks of the season.

“If you’re a Browns fan, you’re frustrated. If you’re a Browns player, you’re frustrated. If you have anything to do with us, you know that,” said defensive end Myles Garrett. “We’ve had chances, we just haven’t converted or capitalized. I can’t tell you how frustrated we are or I am. It's obvious, you see it on everyone's face and demeanor, expressions. ... It’s obvious to me, it's obvious to you that these hurt -- a lot.”

The heartbreaking defeats have piled up, in a once promising Browns season that is now slipping away.