The Cleveland Browns are definitely showing signs of improvement but still managed to find a way to lose football games.
The Browns go to 2-8 for the year after yet another close loss in overtime to the Dallas Cowboys (5-5) on Sunday.
The Cowboys appeared lifeless and uninspired in the early stages of the game. Tony Romo and the Cowboys offense were completely ineffective in the first half and were soundly booed by the Dallas faithful as they hit the locker room at halftime.
The Browns jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter after a solid offensive drive on their second possession, capped by a 10-yard pass from quarterback Brandon Weeden to tight end Ben Watson.
In the second quarter Phil Dawson hit a pair of field goals from 51 and 37 yards to make the score 13-0 for the Browns at halftime.
In the second half the veteran Cowboys took control of the game and scored on their first three possessions of the third quarter.
The Cowboys finally took the lead 17-13 with 6:56 left in the fourth quarter.
On the ensuing drive Weeden fumbled when pressured as he was trying to pass, but Romo gave the ball right back when he fumbled while scrambling from Browns defenders three plays later.
Weeden then took the Browns to the one-yard line, but Trent Richardson was stopped on successive plays and Weeden threw incomplete in the end zone on fourth down. The Browns came away empty handed with 1:42 remaining on the game clock.
The Browns defense came up big and forced the Cowboys to punt the ball away. The Browns used all three of their time outs to save clock and got the ball back with 1:30 left in the game.
Weeden found Watson for another TD, and the Browns took the lead with 1:07 remaining on the clock for the Cowboys offense.
Throwing underneath the soft Cleveland defensive coverage, Romo moved his team down the field. A pass interference call gave Dallas the ball on the 17-yard line. Dan Bailey made the field goal for the Cowboys with :02 remaining. The game ended in a 20-20 tie.
The Cowboys failed to score on their first possession in the overtime period and Cleveland was forced to punt when they came up one yard short of a first down.
The rest is history.
Romo moved the team into field goal range and Bailey hit the winning field goal from 38 yards.
The Browns offense racked up a total of 311 yards of total offense. The offensive line gave Weeden good protection for most of the game.
Weeden was 20-of-35 and 192 yards passing. He was effective at finding receivers and made good choices distributing the ball.
The problem for the Browns this week was in the defensive secondary. The Browns cornerbacks were clearly outmanned and chose to commit pass interference penalties rather than allow the Dallas receivers to make big plays.
The Dallas scoring drive in the third quarter was basically all penalty yards that defensive backs committed against the Cowboys receivers.
Cleveland’s offensive and defensive lines out played Dallas. Trent Richardson had another solid game with 95 yards rushing on 28 carries. He also made a good outlet receiver when Weeden was under pressure.
Cleveland has been close in several games this year. Their youth and lack of experience hurts them late in games.
The Browns have not made the playoffs for several years and they won’t make them again this year, but this was the best game overall that I have seen a Cleveland Browns team play in a long, long time.
Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel.