Browns Fight Through Enormous Challenges, But Fall Short to Chiefs

After getting down early, the Cleveland Browns responded in the second half and gave themselves a chance to win the game, only to fall short to the Kansas City Chiefs, who advance to the AFC Championship.
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The Cleveland Browns were counted out before the game started and many of their fans had given up on them at multiple points in the game, but led by Baker Mayfield and playing with an relenting determination, the Browns fought back, gave themselves a chance to win the game, but lost 22-17.

After initially appearing completely outmatched to start the game, the Browns found themselves down 16-3. Mayfield, who played remarkably well all game, found Rashard Higgins down the right sideline, who then stretched the ball out attempting to get it across the goal line. 

Daniel Sorenson, leading with the crown of his helmet, which wasn't called, managed to hit Higgins, knocking the ball loose just inside the field of play, which took an unfortunate bounce out of the back of the end zone, resulting in a touchback and turning the ball over to the Chiefs.

Many pronounced the Browns dead at this point, but they persisted.

The Chiefs would add three more points before the half, making it 19-3. Coming out of the half, Mayfield made his one mistake trying to find Jarvis Landry settling down in space on a play that had broken down only to be undercut by Tyrone Mathieu on an interception. Kendall Lamm was also injured on the play in a game where rookie Jedrick Wills was already out with an ankle injury.

Once again, the Browns were defeated, despite it being early in the third quarter. They persisted, even with Blake Hance at left tackle. The same Blake Hance that had to come in and play left guard last week having just met his teammates before the game started.

The Chiefs were unable to capitalize as the Browns got a stop and would go onto miss a field goal attempt.

The Browns came back and went to Nick Chubb, who had struggled early with critical drops, took a run for 23 yards and followed it up with another 18 yards. After a short run from Kareem Hunt, Mayfield found on a beautiful throw to Higgins on a post. The drive was capped with another terrific throw to the right to Jarvis Landry into the end zone from 5 yards away.

The game changed on the proceeding possession. As the Chiefs were driving down the field, on a critical 3rd-and-1 play, Mahomes, despite already dealing with an injured toe, was used on an option to the right where he was tackled by Mack Wilson, hitting his head on the ground. He got up, but was woozy and almost fell down at which point he was taken to the locker room, which would be confirmed a concussion.

Chade Henne came into the game and was able to do enough to get the Chiefs another field goal, making the game 22-10.

The Browns would respond with an 18-play drive that would cover 75 yards, taking 8:17 of game clock to complete.

It would include a 17-yard reception to Higgins and the best catch of Austin Hooper's season, going completely horizontal on a diving 5-yard catch to move the chains. Kareem Hunt had a couple tough runs including the carry that would get into the end zone and make the game 22-17.

The Chiefs moved the ball once again, but Chad Henne made a reckless mistake, chucking the ball down field trying to win the game, only to find Browns safety Karl Joseph fielding his errant pass like a punt in the end zone.

Despite a 14-3 run, the Browns were unable to capitalize on the mistake. They were unable to mount a drive and after an impotent three plays, they were forced to punt and never got the ball back.

Myles Garrett was able to get a sack that made it 3rd-and-long, but the Browns were unable to stop a Henne scramble that set them up for 4th-and-inches. They would then complete a quick pass to the right to Tyreek Hill to secure the victory, 22-17.

The Browns were down early, but were able to get themselves back into the game to make a meaningful push and had their chance to win. Early mistakes, including the turnovers proved too big a hurdle for the Browns. They proved they were good enough to play with the Chiefs while also showcasing the issues they still have to address in the offseason.