Bills shock Browns, 24-14
Sep 24, 2012 at 7:28 AM
As cheers from visiting Buffalo Bills fans permeated Cleveland Browns Stadium on a cold, rainy afternoon, the home team left the field in a state of shock.
The Browns didn’t believe they would stumble to a record of 0-3 and the NFL’s longest losing streak dating to last year. Those nightmares, however, became reality after they fell to the Buffalo Bills 24-14 on Sunday.
Now they must contend with a quick turnaround and travel to face the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night. The Browns haven’t won since Nov. 20, 2011, and snapping their nine-game losing streak won’t be easy against a fierce AFC North rival.
“I never thought we would’ve been 0-3,” strong safety T.J. Ward said. “I never thought we’d be 0-1 the way the Philly game went (in Week 1). We can’t let it steamroll on us. We’ve got to stop it now. So that’s what we’re going to try to do Thursday — try to stop the bleeding because we’re bleeding right now.”
The Bills foreshadowed the hemorrhaging by building a 14-0 lead in the first quarter with wide receiver T.J. Graham’s 9-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and running back C.J. Spiller’s 32-yard, catch-and-run touchdown on a screen. Spiller, who entered the game averaging 10.1 yards per carry, suffered a separated shoulder late in the first quarter and left the game. The Browns, though, failed to take advantage of his absence for the final three quarters.
The game was eerily similar to the Browns’ 34-27 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2. Coach Pat Shurmur’s men fell behind early, scratched and clawed their way back and ultimately fell short of ever fully closing the gap.
The Bills (2-1) delivered the dagger with 9:08 remaining in the fourth quarter. Wide receiver Stevie Johnson faked out Browns cornerback Dimitri Patterson with a quick step to the outside, then darted across the middle and caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick. The Bills built a 10-point lead and later intercepted two passes from Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden in the final five minutes.
The Browns’ offense got off to a pathetic start, was plagued by at least four dropped passes and failed to maintain the momentum it gained against the Bengals. Weeden and Co. went three-and-out on their first three possessions and didn’t gain a first down until about 12 minutes left in the second quarter.
“I think that’s the difference in some of these games,” said Weeden, who completed 27-of-43 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. “I think you just can’t be where we were in the first half, 0-for-5 on third down, and doing some things early and expect to win many games. We’ve got to start faster and that’s on us. That pretty much sums it up. You put yourself in a hole 14-0, it’s kind of tough to dig it out.”
Rookie running back Trent Richardson rushed for a 6-yard touchdown with 2:12 left in the first half to trim the Browns’ halftime deficit to seven points, but he didn’t do much else. In addition to tallying four sacks, the Bills’ defensive line proved to be stout against the run, limiting Richardson to 27 yards on 12 carries (2.3 average).
The Bills marched 51 yards to start the second half, but they settled for Rian Lindell’s 37-yard field goal with 10:38 left in the third quarter. Cornerback Buster Skrine broke up a pass intended for Johnson in the front corner of the end zone during the previous play.
The Browns countered and trimmed the Bills’ lead to 17-14 when Weeden connected with rookie wide receiver Travis Benjamin for a 22-yard touchdown pass with 2:27 left in the third quarter. Benjamin broke free on a post-corner route, and Weeden found him wide open in the front left corner of the end zone.
The Bills, though, owned the fourth quarter. After Johnson’s touchdown reception, the Browns’ ensuing drive stalled after wide receiver Greg Little’s 17-yard catch for a first down was wiped out by center Alex Mack’s holding penalty. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin and linebacker Bryan Scott intercepted passes from Weeden during the Browns’ final two possessions.
By then, most of the hometown fans had fled. The loud hooting and hollering from the Bills faithful added salt to the Browns’ nasty wounds.
“I feel like it is so embarrassing for us,” special-teams ace Josh Cribbs said. “I feel like we need to go through that embarrassment. It’s embarrassing for our fans. We don’t win games, and they show up, and spend their hard-earned money to see us play. So maybe we need that embarrassment.”
By Nate Ulrich - Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)
(c)2012 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
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