OPINION: Missed field goals cost Browns big in Superdome

Jake Adams

After a disappointing tie in a monsoon last Sunday, the Browns did not have to worry about the weather. Enclosed in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the young Browns defense was tested by the Saints’ powerhouse offense.

The night before the game, the Browns announced the release of Josh Gordon — a sad end for a guy who struggled with substance abuse and addiction. The organization, however, felt it gave him too many chances. I hope to see him reach his potential elsewhere, but the Browns have enough on their plate to worry about.

They came out aggressive and stripped Michael Thomas on the Saints’ first possession; however, the offense could only get three points from that turnover — a problem that haunted the Browns against the Steelers.

The Browns’ “bend don’t break” defense was tested on the goaline, from a questionable pass interference call, but they did not break and held the Saints to a field goal.

It was a low-scoring first half, a disappointing sign for Browns fans who wanted to see improvement in the offense from their poor performance last week. This was exemplified when the Browns stripped Ted Ginn in good field position, but then failed to move the ball and turned it over on downs.

The defense once again bailed out the offense, and Wil Lutz missed a long field goal after a Browns’ sack pinned them deep. At this point, I began to feel déjà vu from last week’s performance, asking myself, “How long can the defense hold the Saints without movement from the offense?”

Tyrod Taylor and Jarvis Landry then connected multiple times to get into field goal range. It looked promising, but the Browns again walked away with only three points.

Cleveland entered halftime with a 6-3 lead. I’m sure defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was frustrated with the lackluster performance from the offense. Hue Jackson and Todd Haley would have to come up with an improved offensive plan if they wanted to add to the lead.

Defense came out and stopped the Saints, which set up a chance for Cleveland’s offense to redeem itself. Tyrod drove the team down to the one-yard line, and Carlos Hyde punched it into the end zone. A sigh of relief from fans, but the Browns never make things simple as they missed the extra point. The score extended their lead, 12-3.

The offense continued to thrive with Taylor’s passing and running efforts. Nick Chubb and Hyde also contributed on the ground, but once again gained nothing out of the drive after a missed field goal.

The Saints took advantage and marched down field to score on a short pass to Thomas, cutting the lead to two points. An interception gave the Saints the ball in great field position and put the defense in a tough spot. Thomas leapt over his former Ohio State teammate Denzel Ward and scored again. Alvin Kamara ran in for a two-point conversion, and the Saints took the lead.

Tyrod Taylor shocked the Saints with a 47 yard pass to rookie Antonio Callaway. However, it was too early to celebrate as another missed extra point left the score even at 18-18. Again, a typical Browns moment.

The Saints successfully marched down field and made a 44-yard field goal. The Browns responded with two completions, and Zane Gonzalez had a chance to redeem himself.

He did not, missing the 52-yard kick, wide right.

It is easy to blame the kicker in this scenario, but this goes deeper than just the extra points and field goals. Failure to capitalize off of turnovers and the defense breaking at the wrong moment have been the Browns’ problem the past two weeks.

They’ll have to forget this loss, because the Jets are coming to Cleveland on Thursday.

Jake Adams is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].