Usually, it’s the Browns that play bully ball with their run game to defeat teams in the second half.
But on Sunday, the Falcons did it and came out on top of Cleveland 23-20.
Atlanta had a 10-play scoring drive on which they ran zero passing plays. Called up from the practice squad this weekend, running back Caleb Huntley took eight carries for 54 yards on the possession — including a 5-yard touchdown.
Though the Browns responded with Nick Chubb’s 28-yard run to regain a 20-17 advantage, Atlanta tied it up with 7:19 left on Younghoe Koo’s 21-yard field goal. Atlanta again ran the ball effectively until they made it down to Cleveland’s 2-yard line, when quarterback Marcus Mariota fumbled a snap and threw an incomplete pass.
He threw another incompletion on third-and-2 to force the field goal attempt.
Cleveland’s defense has blown coverages throughout the season and did so again on what would be Atlanta’s game-winning drive. Mariota found a wide-open Olamide Zaccheaus on the right side on second-and-10 from Atlanta’s 9-yard line, completing a 42-yard pass. A facemask penalty put Atlanta in scoring position, which the club would capitalize on with Koo’s 45-yard field goal.
The Browns had a chance to tie or go ahead. But Brissett was sacked on second-and-15 at Atlanta’s 46. And then Brissett was picked off by cornerback Dee Alford to seal the Falcons’ victory.
Cleveland should have had more points. The team’s opening drive finished unsuccessfully when head coach Kevin Stefanski elected to go for it on fourth-and-3 from Atlanta’s 4-yard line. Brissett threw an incomplete pass out of the end zone when he didn’t find anyone open.
The Browns also had first-and-goal at the 1 late in the second quarter but ended up kicking a 29-yard field goal after a penalty and a pair of incomplete passes.
Now at 2-2, the Falcons will be on the road to take on the Buccaneers next week.
The 2-2 Browns will host the 2-2 Chargers in Week Five.