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Monday breakdown: The Cleveland Browns play hard but fall short in the opener

Jackson's interception return for a touchdown highlighted an impressive performance by the Browns' defense. Unfortunately, the offense couldn't follow suit.
Jackson's interception return for a touchdown highlighted an impressive performance by the Browns' defense. Unfortunately, the offense couldn't follow suit. Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns took it to the Philadelphia Eagles by knocking Michael Vick off of his rhythm and forcing him to throw four interceptions. However, a late fourth quarter drive by Vick was just enough to help the Eagles prevail 17-16.

What worked for the Browns: The defense had a good game. Without their effort, it wouldn’t have been close. The defensive line in particular did a stellar job applying pressure on Vick and the back seven came up with several big plays including linebacker D’Qwell Jackson’s 27-yard interception return for a touchdown. Sadly, this was the lone touchdown for the Browns.

What didn’t work for the Browns: The offense showed its age at the skill positions. Quarterback Brandon Weeden didn’t appear at all ready for the game, as he threw four interceptions, including one that quelled a comeback drive late in the game. His quarterback rating was 5.1. However, his receivers didn’t do him any favors. There were too many drops including one that lead to an interception in the red zone. Furthermore, the offensive line failed to generate much push up front. If you take away Travis Benjamin’s 35-yard scamper they only averaged two yards a rush.

By the numbers: The Eagles made the most of their opportunities in the red zone, as they scored on both attempts. Meanwhile, the Browns had two trips to the red zone that resulted in no points. Additionally, one cause as to why Cleveland’s defense broke down late could be due to the Eagles running 88 offensive plays to the Browns’ 59. While fatigue isn’t an excuse, neither is leaving your defense out to dry.

What’s next for the Browns: Cleveland has a crucial instate showdown with the Bengals on Sunday. Considering they have consecutive games with the New York Giants and the Baltimore Ravens looming, this is an important week for them to establish momentum before a tough stretch.

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