CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns have mastered the art of losing football games in a variety of ways.
Sunday in New York was no different as they squandered a fantastic start only to implode in a 41-27 loss to the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
The Browns’ 11th straight loss tied a franchise record for consecutive losses originally set in 1974-75 and dropped Pat Shurmur to 4-17 in his tenure as coach.
Despite racing out to a quick 14-0 and 17-7 lead, the wheels came off the wagon once again for the Browns and they never recovered as the Giants rolled off 27 unanswered points in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.
The avalanche began with a 3rd and 1 at the Giants 25 when Shurmur elected to throw with Trent Richardson on the sideline.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden’s pass was high and wide to Gordon at the Giant’s 14 and tipped to Giants safety Steve Brown who returned it 46 yards.
It took New York 2 plays to score as the Giants put 17 points on the board over the final 3:46 of the first half.
Eli Manning hit Rueben Randle for 36 yards before Bradshaw’s 4-yard TD run quickly tied the game at 17.
On the ensuing kickoff return, Josh Cribbs was stripped from behind by Will Hill and the Giants recovered at the 29.
With Dimitri Patterson out of position, Cruz was left wide open for a 7-yard touchdown and a 24-17 lead.
The Giants got 1 last possession before half and a gift 3 points. Buster Skrine was flagged for pass interference setting up Jason Tyne’s second field goal – from 40-yards to make it 27-17 at half.
The stunning change of events and momentum was shocking considering that the Browns came out of the gate firing on all cylinders scoring on their first 3 offensive possessions.
Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and Browns corner Sheldon Brown came up with the loose football at the 22.
Bradshaw recovered to run for 200 yards on 30 carries and a TD.
It took Richardson 2 carries to get the Browns on the board with a 7-0 lead. His 15-yard touchdown run made him the first running back in franchise history to run for a score in 4 consecutive games.
After stopping the Giants on their second possession, Weeden hit Josh Gordon in stride for a 62-yard touchdown and a quick 14-0 lead with 10:14 to play in the first quarter.
Manning countered by going after Browns corner Buster Skrine on the next drive, a 92-yarder, which was capped by a 3-yard TD to Victor Cruz to cut the Browns’ lead in half at 14-7.
Manning threw for 259 yards and 3 touchdowns – all to Cruz – and an interception in the victory.
Phil Dawson hit his 9th field goal in as many attempts – a 32-yarder to extend the lead back to double digits at 17-7 early in the second quarter.
After driving to the Browns’ 11, Manning misfired on 3 straight passes, including Skrine dropping a would be interception in the end zone, before Tynes hit a 29-yard field goal to cut Cleveland’s lead to 7 with 6:49 left in the half.
Down 10, Shurmur felt a sense of urgency to start the second half.
After being stopped short by inches on their opening drive, Shurmur went for it on 4th down from his own 36. Weeden’s quarterback sneak extended the drive which eventually resulted in a punt.
Cruz beat Trevin Wade for a 28-yard TD, his third of the game to extend The Giants’ lead to 34-17 capping the 27-0 run.
Giants running back David Wilson drove home the final nail with a 40 yard touchdown untouched with 5:41 to play to extend to 41-20.
Gordon caught his second TD of the game, a 20-yard throw from Weeden with 4:03 to play to close out the scoring.
The Browns were depleted on both sides of the ball due to injuries. Cleveland entered the game shorthanded at receiver with just 4 active – yet Greg Little was targeted just twice.
Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson was knocked out of the game in the second quarter with a concussion.
Cornerback Dimitri Patterson was carted to the locker room in the 3rd with an ankle injury. Late in the 4th quarter Ahtyba Rubin sustained an injury to his right leg and limped off.
The Browns will try to avoid setting a new franchise record for consecutive losses, when they host the Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday.