Yep, the Titans lost and the Browns won. And the Browns didn’t just win. They set a record for the biggest road comeback in NFL history! Seriously, the Browns set an NFL record! And not for something crappy like going through head coaches like toothpicks, but for something good! So this week, Brian Hoyer and Travis Benjamin can go visit their game jerseys in the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Pretty freaking awesome!
But not as awesome as watching the Browns come back to beat the Titans last Sunday. Because that was truly remarkable.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Because before the game was remarkable, it was truly awful. I spent the vast majority of the first half screaming things at my television that I can’t repeat here. Loudly. Why, you ask?
Mostly, the defense. Yes, the defense was truly horrible in the first half, giving up 14 points to Jake Locker and another inexplicable 14 points to the Titans backup QB Charlie Whitehurst. As a result, the Browns were down 28-3 with just under 3 minutes left in the first half.
And there wasn’t just one guy to blame for the defense’s problems. No, there were plenty of defensive struggles to go around. Here are the highlights:
On the Titans’ 1st TD drive both Chris Kirksey and Paul Kruger missed an easy sack, and that play ended in a pass interference call on Joe Haden. Then, Phil Taylor, Barkevious Mingo, Kruger, and K’Waun Williams all missed tackles. The missed tackle by Williams was by far the most painful, though, because it allowed the Titans to score.
On the Titans’ 2nd TD drive, Armonty Bryant and Kirksey added missed tackles of their own. Then, the Browns, playing decent pass coverage and mistakenly thinking that was enough, allowed Jake Locker to tuck the ball away and run it into the end zone all by himself.
The next time the Titans offense took possession, Locker was injured when Buster Skrine tried to block a pass, and Browns fans mistakenly breathed a sigh of relief. Because two plays later backup Titans QB Whitehurst launched a pass downfield. Haden let the receiver get behind him, and Skrine couldn’t get over to help fast enough aaaaaaaaaand touchdown Titans.
And just when we all thought it couldn’t get worse, on the Titans’ very next offensive play, Whitehurst again launched a pass downfield. This time, Skrine let the Titans receiver get behind him and inside. Another touchdown for the Titans.
To be fair, the defense would play much better in the second half. But I don’t feel like being fair. Because the defense needs to freaking show up for a whole game. Hopefully they do today against the Steelers.
Enter the Browns unlikely hometown hero. From the last offensive series of the first half until the whistle blew at the end of the game, Brian Hoyer did everything within his power to give the Browns a win. And he had help from a wide array of offensive players.
Ben Tate showed up big time, rushing for a career high 123 yards. Any rumblings about him losing his starting spot during his injury were quickly put to rest. And his great day wouldn’t have been possible without great blocking, especially by rookie fullback, Ray Agnew.
Travis Benjamin also came through. After muffing a punt (again!) earlier in the game, he came up big twice in the end zone. Cameron caught a few perfectly placed passes across the middle. (He also dropped a few, but we’ll let that slide, all things considered.). And when Cameron was covered, Hoyer just threw it to his other tight end, Jim Dray, who also recorded a TD. (Time for those Belichick-inspired 2 TE sets!!!). Gabriel and Austin also contributed. It was a team effort, but the Brownies came back and beat those Titans, going on a 19-0 run in the second half.
Yes, the second half was truly a thing of beauty. A huge comeback by a team that doesn’t make huge comebacks. But listen. I would really like to avoid the need for big comebacks going forward. Because if the new Kardiac Kids keep this up, I’m going to need a cardiologist. At 30. So here’s to the Browns blowing out the Steelers today and giving my ticker a break.
Or, you know, just winning. ‘Cause that’d be fine too.