Reporting Daryl Ruiter
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) - The Cleveland Browns missed a golden opportunity to come away with their first victory of the season.
With running back C.J. Spiller sidelined after sustaining a shoulder injury in the first quarter, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 208 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Buffalo Bills beat the Browns 24-14 Sunday afternoon at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
The win ended the Bills’ 8-game road losing streak and dropped the Browns to 0-3.
“We just didn’t get it done,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “There are no magical answers. We just didn’t get it done.”
Brandon Weeden completed 27 of 43 passes for 237 yards, a touchdown and 2 interceptions in the loss.
“If you take away the last throw, I thought it was a solid day,” Weeden said. “I threw ball where it needed to go all day. I felt extremely comfortable in the pocket. I felt my reads were really good. I felt like I threw the ball accurately.
“With all that being said, the most important thing is we didn’t win this game, so to me, I didn’t do enough.”
He was sacked 4 times.
“I think our offensive line gave me time to throw,” Weeden said. “There were some tight windows, some tight coverages but overall I think my offensive line did great.”
The Browns offense went 3 and out on their first 3 possessions and were out-gained 150-13 in the opening quarter.
“You put yourself in a hole, 14-0; it’s kind of tough to dig out of,” Shurmur said.
Buffalo jumped all over the Browns’ defense right out of the gate.
Fitzpatrick capped an 8-play drive with a 9-yard touchdown to T.J. Graham for a 7-0 lead. Browns cornerback Buster Skrine got caught in traffic while Graham caught his first NFL TD.
Leodis McKelvin set the Bills up in Browns territory with a 33-yard punt return following the first 3 and out of the afternoon for Cleveland.
It took 4 plays before Fitzpatrick hit Spiller on a swing pass. He turned and ran 32 yards for the score and a 14-0 lead.
McKelvin all but sealed the game with an interception of Weeden with 4:29 to play. Bryan Scott returned Weeden’s second interception of the quarter to the 1-yard line to allow the Bills to line up in victory formation and run out the clock.
Momentum in the game temporarily shifted when Spiller sustained a left shoulder injury at the 2:52 mark of the first quarter following a 25-yard catch and run when Usama Young landed on his left side.
The play was wiped out after receiver Stevie Johnson was whistled for holding but Spiller was lost for the day.
Third-string running back Tashard Choice ran for 91 yards for the Bills in place of Spiller.
The Browns’ first first down came at the 12:14 mark of the second quarter when Weeden found Jordan Cameron for 12 yards. He then hit Travis Benjamin for 22 more before they punted for a fourth consecutive time.
The Browns got on the board late in the second quarter when Trent Richardson was stuffed up the middle then bounced it left and walked in from 6 yards out to cut Buffalo’s lead in half at 14-7.
Richardson finished with 27 yards on 12 carries and the score.
“The Bills have a strong defensive line, hands down,” Richardson said. “The creases were there, it just takes a little time and the second half was much better than the first. We had a slow start and playing teams like that with a good defensive line and defensive staff, we can’t have misses like that.”
The Bills came out of the locker room and quickly moved 51 yards to add a Rian Lindell 37 yard field goal to make it 17-7.
Browns receiver Travis Benjamin was wide open for a 22-yard touchdown from Weeden to cut the Bills lead to 17-14 capping a 13 play 80 yard drive late in the third quarter.
“The more I get the ball the more I feel like I’m contributing to the team,” Benjamin said. “I’m just waiting for my name called and make that play.”
Buffalo countered with a 10-play 68 yard drive. Fitzpatrick threw his third touchdown of the day, a 9-yarder to Johnson to go back up by 10 at 24-14 with 9:08 left in the fourth quarter.
“We were in man coverage,” cornerback Dimitri Patterson said. “He ran an isolation route. I gave him too much space. You can’t give receivers too much space to improvise. My hat’s off to him. I definitely needed to make that play.”
The Browns needed to make several plays but in what has been a custom since the team returned, regardless of who is wearing the jersey’s, they didn’t.
“The next one’s the game we have to win,” Shurmur said. “They’re all must-wins. Wouldn’t you agree? Who goes into a game thinking they’re going to lose? You can frame it how you want; every game is a must win.”
The Browns, who fall to 4-15 under Shurmur, won’t have much time to reflect on the loss.
They travel to Baltimore Thursday night.