End of game: New starting quarterback Jason Campbell was solid and the defense stepped up in the second half, but the Kansas City Chiefs remain undefeated as they hung on to beat the Cleveland Browns.
Davone Bess' three dropped passes and fumbled punt return cost Cleveland a come-from-behind victory.
Kansas City's league-leading sack machine was held to just a single quarterback takedown behind scrimmage.
Credit a terrific mix of short passes and runs, especially in the two opening quarters, in the Chiefs winning their eighth game of the season.
|Cleveland Browns Grades|
|Positional Unit||First Half Grade||Final Grade|
|Week 8 vs. Chiefs|
Final Analysis for the Cleveland Browns
Pass Offense: Jason Campbell was steady this afternoon. He managed the game, didn’t turn the ball over, threw for two touchdowns and ended with a 104.9 quarterback rating. Give tons of credit to the offensive line and Campbell himself for only getting sacked once against the NFL’s sack leader.
Josh Gordon picked up his third 100-yard receiving game this season and is the first Browns receiver to do so since Braylon Edwards in 2008. It was nice to see Jordan Cameron being utilized as a target outside of garbage time. The tight end caught four balls, some of which were difficult receptions in the second half.
Davone Bess had three drops today, the most crucial one being on a 4th-and-7 pass that would have gone for a first down. Couple that with his punt-return fumble and it is not unreasonable to discuss benching Bess next Sunday.
Run Offense: Cleveland started angling their rushing lanes away from Kansas City’s dangerous middle run defense. Willis McGahee and Chris Ogbonnaya both busted loose for gains of over 10 yards, however, the rush was largely abandoned later in the final frame as the Browns were playing catch up. Campbell’s mobility was a nice little X-factor as he was able to keep drives alive with his legs.
Pass Defense: Phenomenal job by Cleveland’s front seven in the third quarter to pressure Alex Smith and hold the Chiefs scoreless.
Overall, the Browns sacked Smith on six occasions and held the Chiefs to three second-half points.
Run Defense: In the last two quarters Cleveland held the Chiefs to just 27 yards rushing after allowing 109 yards in the first half. Jamaal Charles finished with 74 yards and didn’t hurt the Browns inside the red zone.
Special Teams: There was a scary moment when Travis Benjamin needed help getting up after returning a third-quarter punt. The sophomore speedster injured his left knee, but the severity of his injury is not yet known. Punter Spencer Lanning had a solid afternoon by delivering terrific ball placement and distance on his kicks.
Davone Bess' slippery fingers managed to hurt the Browns on a punt return in the fourth quarter as he fumbled the ball in place of Benjamin. That would have given Cleveland possession at midfield, trailing by three points.
Coaching: On the opening third-quarter drive, coach Chudzinski’s 4th-and-1 gamble paid off. It moved the Browns into the red zone and resulted in a Fozzy Whittaker touchdown.
The Browns had a rough day on the penalty front from the officials. Nine penalties cost the team 70 yards.
Hindsight is 20/20, but it was a questionable decision to have Davone Bess attempt to return a punt when Fozzy Whittaker was available. That poor choice resulted in Bess fumbling the kick and the Browns losing what would have been tremendous field position.
First-Half Analysis for the Cleveland Browns
Pass Offense: On Cleveland’s opening drive, Jason Campbell overthrew Josh Gordon on a 3rd-and-7. It looked like Gordon was jogging while the ball was still in the air, so it was definitely a questionable effort. However, Gordon redeemed himself by running a beautiful route and catching Campbell’s bomb via flea flicker. Drops continue to haunt Davone Bess as he let his sixth pass of the season slip through his fingers, killing Cleveland’s second series.
Kudos to Campbell for making quick decisions and not turning the ball over to an aggressive Chiefs defense.
Run Offense: What run offense? Inexplicably the Browns ran right up the middle into Kansas City’s dominant defensive line and did not go for the edge where there is some weakness. Cleveland totaled negative one rushing yards on three carries.
Pass Defense: Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith masterfully avoided the Browns’ pass rush for most of the half except for when Paul Kruger collected a sack that forced the Chiefs to kick their second field goal. Smith’s dink and dunk passing strategy worked effectively to move the sticks, eat up clock and score a pair of touchdowns.
Run Defense: The Browns defense gradually broke down as Jamaal Charles kept busting through to the second level. Combined with the short passes, Kansas City seemed to be able to do pretty much anything they wanted to on offense. Alex Smith was one of the more effective rushers as he escaped Cleveland’s pass rush and racked up 33 yards. The home team totaled 109 total yards on the ground.
Special Teams: Travis Benjamin and Fozzy Whittaker shared kickoff return duties and were somewhat effective as they ran back a combined three kicks for 76 yards. Cleveland’s coverage units did a good job of preventing big plays.
Coaching: Cleveland only had the ball for 7:14 in the entire first half and converted on just three third downs. The Browns had no creativity in the running attack as they ran right up the middle. A tip of the cap to offensive coordinator Norv Turner for the flea-flicker call that resulted in a Josh Gordon second-quarter touchdown. Something needs to change with the defensive play–calling, as the team's third-down struggles continue. They gave up nine third-down conversions on 12 tries and let the Chiefs stay on the field for an astounding 22:46.
Andy McNamara is an international sports broadcaster and journalist.
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