The Cleveland Browns had every opportunity to put the Buffalo Bills on the ropes in Detroit, but they consistently got in their own way, made critical mistakes that allowed the Bills to regain their footing and take over the matchup. Dropped passes from tight ends, a botched snap fumble and continued struggles on special teams sunk the Browns before the Bills had a chance.
After marching right down the field for a touchdown on the opening drive, a touchdown pass from Brissett to Amari Cooper in traffic, the defense was able to hold off the Bills initial charge. In fact, the Bills didn't get a first down until the second quarter. Unfortunately, one of the stops the Browns got was already in field goal range after Nyheim Hines returned a punt 28 yards.
The Browns were able to mount successful drives on their next two possessions. Unfortunately, after cruising to midfield, Froholdt, in place of Ethan Pocic who left the game with an injury, wasn't able to get a snap up high enough allowing it to fall to the ground. The Bills pounced on the fumble. The Bills would capitalize with a field goal, one of six on the day from Tyler Bass.
The next drive, the Browns were able to drive into the Bills red zone. Attempting to relive the glory they had with Nick Chubb in the wildcat against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Browns motioned Brissett out wide only for Chubb to get taken down behind the line of scrimmage. That would have only been a minor issue had the next two plays resulted in drops from tight ends.
First, Harrison Bryant was wide open on a cross from right to left. Brissett fired the ball hot and high. Bryant wasn't able to get his hands up quickly enough to secure the ball inside the five-yard line with space in front of him.
Then, Brissett made a terrific throw, that navigated through a few Bills defenders hitting Pharaoh Brown in the hands. Perhaps an obstructed view contributed to him being unable to come up with the ball. The Browns settled for a field goal.
The Browns also found themselves in a 3rd-and-1 situation at the Buffalo 27 on their first offensive drive of the second half. They tried to sneak Brissett as they often do, but when he was stuffed., The Browns made the bewildering decision to do it again only to get held short once again.
Confusing given their limitations at center and then because of how stout the Bills defensive front is. Going for it once was fine, but the second time, pride got in the way. The Browns want to be a power team, but the Bills got the better of them in the middle for most of this game.
After the Bills second and final touchdown of the game, the Browns offense was able to drive down the field once again, this time to the Bills 16-yard line. Down 22-10, the Browns wasted an opportunity to get it down to a one-score game. Instead, they were hoping to make it 22-13. Unfortunately, they allowed the Bills to block their field goal in a series of plays that summed up the game as a whole.
All too often the case, the Browns start out hot on offense only to lose effectiveness as the game wears on. The opponent puts all of their effort into stopping Nick Chubb (19 yards on 14 carries) and while Brissett has done a fine job as the interim quarterback, he's just not good enough to win games against teams of this caliber.
Brissett had a great day statistically, throwing for 324 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, two of those touchdown passes came on a late charge that fell short.
The sheer amount of opportunities the offense and special teams caused a beleaguered Browns defense to regress to the mean over time. They started out well and fought, but the Bills were able to score 10 points between a drive at the end of the half and then the opening drive of the third quarter. The Bills only scored two touchdowns in the game, but the six field goals added up, including a pair of bombs, one of which was from 56 but would've been good from Buffalo.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen did not look himself for much of the game, off target on a number of his throws. Some could be ascribed to the lack of preparation due to the snowfall and illness which limited the Bills to one full practice on the week. He's still dealing with an elbow injury as well. The rest of it, the Browns defense was able to put some pressure on Allen and force some mistakes.
The Bills found most of their success with the ground game. Devin Singletary and James Cook each had 86 yards. The Browns were able to create stops, but too often in field goal territory, Bass did not miss.
On the game, the Browns ran more offensive plays (68 to 62), had more yards (396 to 357) and averaged the same amount per play (5.8) than the Bills. Both teams were forced to go away from their strengths, but the Browns made the mistakes the Bills didn't.
The Browns did score touchdowns on each of their final two drive, giving them a glimmer of hope. The Browns threw their way down the field with the exception of an 11-yard run from Kareem Hunt, setting up a 7-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper in the corner. The Browns tried to go for two but failed as Cooper caught a pass in the end zone but had stepped out of bounds on his own beforehand.
After giving up Bass's sixth field goal of the game, the Browns once again threw their way down the field. Donovan Peoples-Jones caught two passes including a 20-yard reception as well as the two-yard touchdown pass, the first of the season for DPJ. Since the game was moved to Detroit, he was able to do it front of approximately 100 friends and family.
Cooper had eight receptions for 113 yards for the game. DPJ chipped in 61 yards on five receptions along with the touchdown.
The Browns tried for the onside kick, getting the look they wanted and got a great kick from Cade York. Safety Ronnie Harrison Jr. had a shot to recover the kick but couldn't squeeze the bouncing ball, enabling the Bills to keep it and run out the block. Once again, the Browns fell short.