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There is nothing more frustrating to a team or to its fans than when that team makes huge, costly mistakes that effectively result in their beating themselves.
In both losses the Browns have suffered this season, they made just such mistakes and essentially gave away a possible win, and they nearly did it in their narrow win over Miami as well.
This suicide play seems to manifest in two different forms: penalties and giving up big plays.
Penalties were a huge problem in their loss to Cincinnati. You can make the argument that if the Browns hadn't been penalized so often and at such critical points in the game, they might have started the season 3-0. And while we didn't see too many costly penalties in the loss to Tennessee, we certainly saw a number of them against Miami, and they nearly cost the Browns that game as well.
Then there's the issue of giving up big plays. This happened against both Cincinnati and Tennessee, and in the Titans game especially, these plays had devastating consequences.
The Browns gave up two touchdowns on huge plays—one on offense and one on defense. Each play took less than a minute, and together they cost the Browns 14 points. So in two minutes, the Browns put the game too far out of reach to make up for in the other 58 minutes they had on the field.
Granted, great teams can certainly make up a 14-point deficit. But for a team still in the early stages of gelling into a cohesive whole, two touchdowns can easily be the nail in the coffin.
And of course, the demoralization from those two big plays caused the Browns to shut down and barely even try to come back, which of course resulted in more points for the opponent and an inability to mount a comeback that was effective at all, even if they ultimately still fell short on the scoreboard.
Upon occasion, big plays happen to everyone. Even the best quarterbacks throw interceptions that wind up returned for touchdowns, and even the best defenses occasionally let a receiver slip through for an 80-plus yard score. But the Browns have struggled with ceding big plays regularly. Even those that didn't result in an immediate score still hurt when they set one up later in a drive or resulted in a turnover that led to a scoring play.
These issues of frequent and ill-timed penalties and giving up big plays have really hurt the Browns so far, but they're also issues that (especially in the case of the penalties) are correctable. These are things the Browns could make major improvements on just over one bye week. If they do, it will make a huge difference for them going forward.