Why the Browns lost to the Packers
GREEN BAY, Wisconsin – The Browns were fortunate enough to perform a Christmas miracle at Lambeau Field on Saturday night as they faced the Green Bay Packers, but three factors on the final disc resulted in a blue Christmas for Cleveland then they lost 24-22.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield returned from the Reserve / COVID-19 roster on Saturday morning after spending 10 days away from the squad. He flew to Green Bay separately on Saturday morning and took to the pitch with time for a tour and conversations with head coach Kevin Stefanski and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt.
Mayfield had participated in the virtual meetings throughout the week, but the online preparation did not bear fruit.
Throwing 21 for 36, Mayfield had 222 yards and two touchdowns, but it was the turnovers that proved too difficult to overcome.
Mayfield had four interceptions, the first on the second practice, killing the momentum after a near-perfect practice on the field in the end zone. Some unbalanced shots, short balls and sails ended up in the hands of the Packers’ defenders.
“I don’t think it was anything from a preparation standpoint, mentally it was just missed shots. It’s not characteristic,” Mayfield said after the game. “I hurt our team.
“With Baker I know he had four interceptions, but we win as a team, we lose as a team,” Stefanski said. He also said that no matter what some fans ask, Mayfield will remain their starter for the future.
“He’s our starting quarterback, yeah,” Stefanski said.
Blaming the referees is futile, but on Saturday a missed defensive pass interference call had a big influence on the outcome of final practice.
With 50 seconds left on the clock and the Browns looking to enter the range with just two points, two incomplete passes left the Browns in a 3rd and 10 situation on the 50-yard line.
Mayfield threw a pass intended for wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, but play culminated in his fourth interception and sealed a victory for the Packers.
But on the play, Peoples-Jones was held by Packers cornerback Rasul Douglas, who caught the pass. It looked like a clear defensive pass interference, but the referees held their flags.
“I think there was a bit of holding and tugging, I understand that the referees won’t get all the calls, but in great times like this it’s difficult,” Stefanski said.
The missed call was brutal, but there was another factor that perhaps hurt the Browns so much.
Do not run
On Saturday, the Browns’ game was on fire when used.
Nick Chubb carried the ball 17 times for 126 yards and one touchdown. Between Chubb, Ernest Johnson, Anthony Schwartz and the Mayfield goaltenders, the Browns averaged 8.76 yards per carry throughout the game.
But in the last practice, after Chubb moved the chains twice, he was sidelined and the Browns switched to the passing game. This resulted in two incomplete passes and the final interception.
Of course, Chubb is human and needs a rest every now and then. But with the three remaining timeouts, he might have been able to take a break and have the chance to get involved in another play.
Or maybe they could have given Johnson, who was the game’s captain, a chance with the ball on the ground to dump a bit of clockwork while pushing through the basket range. Instead, it was forwarded to.
Pulling away from the offensive force at the most crucial moment turned out to be the third factor in the Browns’ final training failure.
The Browns are now scorecard watchers as they await the results of rival division games that could make or break their playoff chances. Browns fans will be keeping their fingers crossed that fate can help the Browns more than they could help themselves in the dying seconds of Saturday’s game.
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