Even though the Cleveland Browns lost Sunday, the final score was a lot closer than many imagined. The fact that only 39 total points were scored was surprising, but there is a reason for that and it is mentioned later. Cleveland had a chance to win and unfortunately they came up just short. There is hope for the Browns moving forward and the familiar mantra in Cleveland comes back in a way that is not ironic. There’s always next year.
The defense needs a ton of work
There was one glaring issue that the Browns had coming into this game and it was the defense. Kansas City ran through the Cleveland defense like a hot knife through butter. Even when a quarterback change was made due to an injury, the Chiefs still had their way. Both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce had 8 receptions for 110 and 109 yards respectively. Every available resource should be put into the defense this offseason as many of their one-year signings were complete misses.
Mayfield played well
For a game that could have turned into a pass heavy affair, Baker Mayfield was impressive. Just about every time the Browns needed a play Mayfield delivered. Mayfield’s one interception was less of case of a bad throwing decision and more of a great play by Tyrann Mathieu. Overall Mayfield made a ton of plays and was able to keep the Browns in the game.
Not enough rushing attempts
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined for only 19 rushing attempts for 101 yards. Yes, the Browns did have to play catchup for a large part of the game, but there were plenty of times earlier to run the ball. This was something that seems to have happened a few times this season. It was clearly a conscious decision by Kevin Stefanski and not an instant that can be considered flukey. The Browns are and will be a team that is one of the best in the league in regards to running the football. Perhaps leaning on that a bit more next time will lead to a different result.
Higgins fumble was inexcusable
If there is one thing that can never happen it is attempting to extend the football over the goal line and fumbling the ball out of the end zone. That is exactly what happened with Rashard Higgins and it resulted in a 10-point swing. The Browns were going to score a touchdown on that drive and instead the Chiefs added a field goal before the half to increase their lead to 16. Does the rule suck? Absolutely. Should there have been a flag for Higgins being hit in the helmet? Also yes. But at the end of the day Higgins has to retain possession of the football and just go down.
Mahomes’ early exit changed the game
There was a game changing moment Sunday and it was when Patrick Mahomes left with a concussion and would not return. The Chiefs very well could have added two more touchdowns to their points total rather than a field goal and a hilariously bad Chad Henne interception giving the Browns one last hope on offense. While the Browns did only lose by 5 points, it is a differential that doesn’t necessarily need an asterisk, but a conversation is needed when talking about the final score.