November 28, 2021

The Cleveland Browns hosted the undefeated Arizona Cardinals, which on paper seemed like an even matchup. The Browns did not have their starting running back in Nick Chubb or wide receiver Jarvis Landry due to injury. As for the Cardinals, they were without their head coach Kliff Kingsbury and two other coaches as they tested positive for COVID. The Cardinals’ defense started strong as they were able to give their offense the ball quickly causing a three and out. The Cardinals grabbed the momentum when Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray had the offense in shotgun formation and quickly handed the ball off to running back Chase Edmunds who sprinted up the gut and was finally taken down after running for 40 yards. A few plays later put the Cardinals in a 3rd and long situation, Kyler Murray was forced out of the pocket and whipped a pass to the left side of the end zone to wide receiver Christian Kirk, who dragged his feet in bounds before falling to the ground to complete the catch. It was a 21- yard touchdown pass, and Kirk’s third touchdown of the season that gave the Cardinals an early 7-0 lead.

The Browns were moving the ball as quarterback Baker Mayfield was connecting with wide receivers Donovan Peoples-Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. The Browns were near the end zone and decided to go for it on a 4th and three play. That decision turned to be a terrible decision, as Baker was sacked on the play. At such an early stage in the game, a team needs to come away with points on the board. Arizona was able to gain yards any which way they wanted, as the Browns defense was unable to make adjustments. The drive continued when Browns’s cornerback Denzel Ward was flagged for pass interference, which was a no-brainer as he had his back turned to the ball and pushed the receiver before the ball getting into the vicinity of the receiver.

At the start of the second quarter, Kyler Murray threw a short pass to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who juked two defenders and was tackled in the end zone for a 13- yard touchdown which padded the lead to 14-0 Cardinals. The Cardinals continued to give the Cleveland offensive line fits, as they did an excellent job of covering receivers and pressuring Mayfield to move out of the pocket. It was effective as they forced Baker to fumble the football and Arizona took over with excellent field position and a chance to push the lead even further.  The Browns continued to be undisciplined as they ran offsides on a field goal attempt which made it a 36-yard field goal attempt for Matt Prater.  Prater drained the kick and pushed the lead to 17-0 Arizona. The Browns offense continued to struggle as Baker Mayfield was not on the same page as his receiver and threw a pass high and behind wide receiver Rashard Higgins which turned into an interception. The interception eventually led to a 51-yard field goal which Matt Prater bent the kick through the uprights to make it a 20-0 lead. The Browns got into a groove with two carries from Kareem Hunt that kept moving the chains, as the Browns were going for a fast pace offense.

At the five minute mark in the red zone, Baker Mayfield threw a short pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones, who had peeled off to the right, caught the ball and knocked over a defensive back as if he were a bowling ball knocking over a pin and made it across the goal line. That trimmed the lead to 20-7. The Browns’ defense continued to be a mixed bag, as they gave up some long plays and then made some nice stops. Matt Prater nailed a 33-yard field goal to push the lead to 23-7. That left the Browns with only 43 seconds left, they were able to move the ball. It seemed as if there was no way they could get points on the board as they had plenty of ground to cover. Baker Mayfield scrambled away from defenders and then slipped out and heaved a hail mary pass. Several players jumped up for the ball and fortunately, Donovan Peoples-Jones went up for the jump ball and came down with the catch for a 57-yard touchdown pass. The game was now 23-14 Cardinals at the half. It was a shocking turn of events, given the direction in which this game was headed. This type of play can upstart a team that is slow out of the gate and give them confidence heading into the second half of the game.

The Browns started the second half with a sack by Myles Garrett and fortunately, the Browns were able to force the Cardinals to punt the ball away, both sides kept trading the ball back and forth. Baker continued his chemistry with Donovan Peoples-Jones, as he found him on multiple occasions. Unfortunately, Baker was trying to extend a play and was hit behind by the almighty JJ. Watt, who caused a turnover as Mayfield fumbled again. Kyler Murray had solid pass protection, as he dissected apart the Browns defense and ultimately found DeAndre Hopkins all alone in the end zone for an easy 9-yard touchdown pass. This pushed the lead to 30-14 Cardinals. Baker turned to Odell Beckham Jr. a handful of times in the 4th quarter which was effective as they were moving the ball down the field. The Browns were near the red zone and on a 4th and four play, Baker fired a pass to Beckham Jr which went through his hands and caused a loss of down and gave Arizona the ball.

The dagger to the Cleveland Browns was a touchdown pass from Kyler Murray to receiver A.J. Green, which put the game out of grasp. The lead was now 37-14 in favor of the Cardinals which was the final score of the game. Unfortunately, the Browns suffered another injury to a key player in running back Kareem Hunt, who was carted off the field with a calf injury. Without Chubb nor Hunt, this team has no running game and it stinks even more with Baker Mayfield injuring his shoulder and will have an MRI. The Browns have now dropped two games in a row, while fans are worried, they should not panic as the season is still early. It is not an excuse it is factual that the team is hampered by injuries though they need their offensive weapons to healthy in order to help out Mayfield as he can’t do it alone. Donovan Peoples-Jones had a solid game to progress in his development as he registered four catches, 101 yards and 2twotouchdown catches. Odell Beckham Jr, also did his part as he had five catches for 79 yards. Baker needs to be more aware and handle the ball better, the defense needs to be more disciplined as on 9 penalty plays they gave up 88 yards as opposed to the Cardinals having five penalty plays and giving up 45 yards. A team cannot expect to win if they give teams extra plays as that leads to extra yards. The Browns have to quickly flush this game out of their heads and rest up as they have a short week coming up. The play-calling needs to improve as there were some questionable plays that left fans scratching their heads. The coaching staff and players need to reset and re-group as they have a home game Thursday night against the Denver Broncos.

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