Late turnovers kill the Browns
Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden (3) is helped up after being knocked down by the Buffalo Bills defense in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s NFL game in Cleveland. The Browns were plagued by penalties, dropped passes, an inability to stop the run and turnovers, including two interceptions in the final four minutes as Weeden was trying to rally his team. The Browns fell 24-14.
Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson looked into the stands and saw thousands of jubilant faces.
As the fans celebrated, Jackson’s skin crawled.
Cleveland’s stadium looked like it belonged in Buffalo.
“I’ve been here for a long time and I’ve never experienced that,” Jackson said after the Browns were beaten 24-14 by the Bills on Sunday. “It’s frustrating and embarrassing. It’s a shame we weren’t able to put out a better effort than we did.”
In the final minutes, players on Buffalo’s bench led thousands of Bills fans in celebration. By then, disgusted Browns fans had headed home following the team’s ninth straight loss. The only partying was being done by the New Yorkers, who hung around and shared hugs and high-fives with some Bills who greeted them before leaving the field.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three touchdown passes and the better-than-advertised Bills (2-1) overcame the loss of running back C.J. Spiller to a shoulder injury to beat the Browns and snap an eight-game road losing streak.
Fitzpatrick, doing just enough to keep Buffalo’s offense moving, finished 22 of 35 for 208 yards as the Bills turned to their passing game after Spiller, who has been filling in for Fred Jackson, went down in the first quarter with an injury that will likely sideline him a few weeks.
The Bills won outside Buffalo for the first time since the 2011 opener at Kansas City.
“We got the monkey off our back,” Fitzpatrick said. “We always felt confident. This is a new year, a new team, but it was a good team win on the road. These are the most satisfying wins.”
For the Browns (0-3), the losing continues.
“We just didn’t get it done,” said coach Pat Shurmur, who dropped to 4-15 in two seasons. “There are no magical answers, other than we just didn’t get it done.”
It’s the same old story for Cleveland, which won’t have much time to reflect on the loss. The Browns visit Baltimore on Thursday night.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” said rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden, who is convinced the Browns can weather the storm. “This locker room has got a lot of level-headed, good, solid guys and we’re going to stick together. That’s what you’ve got to do. None of us want to lose. We’ve got to continue to fight.”
Before he went out, Spiller, who came in leading the league with 292 rushing yards, scored on a 32-yard screen pass from Fitzpatrick, who also threw a 9-yard TD to T.J. Graham in the first quarter and hooked up with Stevie Johnson from 9 in the fourth to close the scoring.
Bills coach Chan Gailey does not expect Spiller to be back for next week’s home game against New England — and possibly longer.
“I don’t believe it’s long, long-term,” Gailey said. “If he missed a week that’s long for me. He’s going to be out for sure this week and then we’ll see.”
The Browns were again plagued by costly penalties, dropped passes and an inability to stop the run. Weeden went 27 of 43 for 237 yards and a TD pass to fellow rookie Travis Benjamin. However, he was intercepted twice in the final 4:21 as he tried to rally the Browns.
Buffalo’s defense limited Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson to just 27 yards on 12 carries. After rushing for 109 yards last week in Cincinnati, Richardson’s longest gain was a 6-yard TD in the second quarter.