3 Big Takeaways: Self-inflicted errors lead to another costly loss
The Browns lost 31-23 to the Bills on Sunday,, which marked their sixth loss to an AFC opponent this season and brought their record to 3-7.
Here are three takeaways from Detroit, where the game was played after the league relocated the matchup due to the snowstorm that struck Buffalo this weekend:
1. Too many errors in too many big moments
Much like some of their other losses to AFC opponents this season, the Browns were once again their own worst enemy and couldn't overcome several self-inflicted miscues early in the game.
A botched snap and fumble that led to a Bills field goal, dropped passes in the red zone and special teams errors were among the errors that cost the Browns in big ways against the Bills, who started slow and offered Cleveland a chance to build a sizable early lead.
After a touchdown on the opening drive, the Browns had all the momentum on offense and appeared to have something going against the Bills' defense, but that all came to a halt on the third drive of the game. Cleveland reached Buffalo's 8-yard line, but then lost six yards on a direct snap play to Nick Chubb and failed to complete two pass attempts to Harrison Bryant and Pharaoh Brown.
Both passes hit both of the tight ends' hands and would've been touchdowns had they been caught.
"They would tell you (they should catch them)," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "That's obvious. Whatever we do and whatever play we get called — run or pass — we have to come away with seven points there versus a good football team. We can't do that."
On the next drive, the Browns gained 42 yards on eight plays and were again driving into Bills' territory, but the momentum came to another abrupt end when Brissett mishandled a snap while he was under center. The Bills recovered at their own 48 and used the great field position to tack on their second field goal of the game, which triggered the start of 25 unanswered points.
Brissett said the mishandling was on him and not Hjalte Froholdt, who replaced Ethan Pocic at center after Pocic exited with a knee injury on the first drive of the game.
"I just have to be better in a couple of those key moments," he said.
The Browns entered the red zone again four drives later, but the sequence stalled due to a delay of game penalty on second down and incomplete pass on third down. The Browns still had a chance to come away with three points — and close the deficit from 12 points to nine — but Cade York's 34-yard field goal was blocked.
The block highlighted an especially poor day from special teams, which allowed 37 yards via two punt returns and 76 yards on three kickoff returns.
The full scope of the loss, however, was due to errors on all sides of the ball — including the defense, which allowed the Bills to score points on the seven consecutive drives leading up to their kneel-down drive to end the game.
"I think we win and lose as a team, and that is the truth," Stefanski said.
2. Offense can't build on early momentum
Hopes were high for the Browns after they opened the game with a touchdown, but it took them nearly 50 minutes to find the end zone again.
In those 50 minutes, the Browns struggled to find any sort of success in their run game or end drives with field goals to stay close with the Bills. RB Nick Chubb was limited to a season-low 19 yards on 14 carries, which set the Browns up for just an 80-yard output on the ground.
Brissett said the rough day wasn't because of anything special the Bills did on defense, but rather a lack of execution on Cleveland's end.
"You look at it on the sideline," he said. "We're looking at the pictures, and it's us. It's not them; it's us. That's what I mean shooting ourselves in the foot. Obviously, they're a good defense. Hats off to them. They came out and won. A lot of it was self-imposed."
The Browns did find success through the air in the fourth quarter, as Brissett found WRs Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones for touchdowns that prevented the score from appearing as a blowout.
Those plays, however, were needed much sooner in the game before the Bills began to slowly drain the Browns' odds of coming from behind.
"Especially when you get down in the red zone, we have to score touchdowns, especially versus a good team like that," Brissett said. "We got down there a few times. One time, we settled for a field goal or two. We just have to be better in those situations, and we have to find a way to execute better and finish better."
3. Playoff hopes take another big hit
At 3-7, the Browns' playoff hopes are fading, and Myles Garrett didn't hesitate to admit that at the podium after the game.
The season is still far from over — plenty can happen in favor of the Browns in the final seven games — but the margin for error is about as thin as possible.
"Things like this move our destiny out of our hands, but we just have to keep on fighting, keep on going forward and try to get in that win column," Garrett said. "We're not out of it. If we do what we're supposed to and get rolling, then we still have a way to make it. We just have to keep that in mind and keep that in the forefront."
The Browns remain last in the AFC North and would be tied for that spot with the Steelers if they lose their game Sunday to the Bengals. Cleveland has a few positives to look forward to in December with the return of Pro Bowl QB Deshaun Watson and some possibly favorable matchups against the Texans (1-8-1), Saints (4-7), Steelers (3-6) and Commanders (6-5).
Those games, of course, will only matter if the Browns can find a way to win games against Buccaneers (5-5), Ravens (7-3) and Bengals (5-4).
And for any of those games to be winnable, the Browns first have to stop beating themselves with preventable mistakes.
"We're too good of a team to have this record that we have right now," Garrett said. "We just have to be better. It's frustrating."
Cavs Win Big Over the Heat on Sunday Night
After flirting with disaster on Friday – losing a big lead before pulling away in double-overtime – the Cavaliers left nothing to chance two nights later, jumping on Miami early and never letting up.
Miami dressed seven men in its own overtime loss on Friday night, and after a tight first quarter on Sunday, the Cavaliers clamped down on the shorthanded Heat midway through the second, taking a double-digit lead that they extended to 17 at intermission and not looking back from there – coasting to the 113-87 win at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Over the course of a recent five-game slide – and even in Friday’s win – the Cavaliers struggled to maintain a late lead. But that was never the case as Cleveland wins its second straight to start their four-game homestand. The one-sided victory also allowed J.B. Bickerstaff to avoid burning out his squad with a big matchup against Atlanta on tap for Monday night.
The Cavaliers got solid contributions up and down the lineup on Sunday – including a big night from their bench, and namely Cedi Osman. That second unit was playing without Kevin Love, out with a finger injury, and essentially Caris LeVert, who left the game after turning his ankle after 14 minutes of action.
Osman led all reserves with a season-high 20 points and led both teams with 12 rebounds, going 8-for-17 from the floor, adding three assists, a steal and a block while posting a +39 +/- number in 37 minutes of work.
Darius Garland led both teams with 25 points on an efficient 7-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-7 from deep and 7-of-7 from the stripe, handing out a game-high seven assists in the win.
Evan Mobley doubled-up in his second straight game, and third time in his last five outings, finishing with 15 points and 10 boards, also going 7-of-12 from the field, adding five assists and a steal.
Donovan Mitchell pitched in with 13 points, five boards and a pair of steals and Isaac Okoro added 13 points of his own, all in the first half, going 4-of-8 from the floor overall, adding four boards and a pair of assists.
Lamar Stevens was solid in his second straight start, finishing with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, adding four boards in 22 minutes of action.
The Heat got center Bam Adebayo back from a two-game absence, and he led Miami with 21 points, but he was only three players to notch double-figures as Eric Spoelstra’s squad shot just 39 percent from the floor, including 19 percent from long-range in the loss.
Rising Star Bronny James in a New Commercial with Dad LeBron
LeBron James Jr., a/k/a “Bronny,” the son of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, is rising too fast. He has not even finished high school (he is a senior guard at Sierra Canyon in a Los Angeles suburb), but he is already going places and making his money.
Young Bronny recently signed an endorsement deal with Nike, and the ink has hardly dried on the papers. But there is already more coming.
Fortunately, California rules allow him to profit off his name, image, and likeness.
His dad has said he hopes to play with his son someday in the NBA. But as they await that, they are already playing in a commercial.
Indeed, having a legend for a father is no mean feat, and companies know how to make good use of it as a commercial commodity. It also helps that he is a college prospect.
Anyway, an advert shared on Monday has the father and the son playing one-on-one to their own music. Titled “The Chosen One vs. The Chosen Son,” the ad is for Beats by Dre headphones. In the ad, the dad plays classical, and the junior opts for hip-hop. They can be seen trading moves and makes. His Mom then phones to ask what they want for dinner.