The Falcons entered Sunday’s game with a 4-6 record this season yet sit in first place in the NFC South after edging out Carolina in Week 11. Cleveland arrived with a 6-4 record after their 3-game winning streak was snapped by the Houston Texans
The game started off very slow, neither team could find their offensive rhythm. It took the Falcons to 5:53 left in the 1st Quarter to finally register points. Matt Ryan connected with Julio Jones for their first touchdown of the game.
Once the Browns got into the red-zone they gave the ball to Isaiah Crowell who powered it in from about 10 yards out. The Browns-D stepped up as well, after the Falcons received the ball Joe Haden intercepted Matt Ryan’s pass to put them on the Falcon’s 29-yd line. They couldn’t make the most of their position and settled for a Billy Cundiff field goal.
With 9 minutes left to play in the 2nd Quarter, Billy Cundiff’s services were needed again; this time for a 37-yd FG. At this time the score was 13-7, Browns.
When the Browns were gaining momentum and putting together another drive, Brian Hoyer threw an interception to Kemal Ishmael. With 1:00 left in the 1st Half the Falcons were able to respond when Matt Ryan was able to connect with Jacquizz Rodgers for an 8-yd touchdown. The score was 14-13 at halftime with the Falcons holding a narrow 1-point lead.
The Browns came out in the 2nd Half with all the momentum, mounting an 11 play, 66 yard drive which led to a FG by Billy Cundiff.
After another 3-and-out by the Falcons, the Browns took over at their own 30-yd line. They let their running game do the work for them as Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West shared the load on the ground. It took less than 5 minutes for the Browns’ Isaiah Crowell to breakaway for a 26-yd touchdown to make the game 23-14 for the Browns.
Just when it looked like all hope was lost as Cleveland was marching downfield with ease, Desmond Trufant made a leaping interception in the corner of the end-zone for a touchback. With under 5 minutes left to play in the game, the Falcons needed at least a FG to take the lead and win the game. But the offense, which had been struggling all game, failed to even pick up a frist down (and Matt Ryan took a big hit on every down).
The Falcons-D was able to hold the Brown’s offense just long enough for Dezmen Southward to make another key interception. The Falcons’ offense just crossed the 50-yd mark and met a wall soon after, failing to gain yardage. This forced a 53-yd FG attempt by Matt Bryant which was made to a loud applause by home fans.
With the Falcons up 24-23 with under a minute left in the game, nerves were high for the Browns as they started their possession at their own 20-yd line. But as confident as they’ve been all game, they marched down the field with a combination of Crowell runs and Gordon catches. In the final seconds, they brought in Billy Cundiff for a short 38-yd FG try which was successful as time ran out.
Cleveland’s Quarterback Brian Hoyer threw for 322-yds and 3 interceptions while Crowell and West combined for 150-yds rushing. Josh Gordon made a triumphant return to the team. He was target 16 times, double what the second highest receiver was targeted (8). He averaged 15-yds per catch and racked up 120 receiving yards.
Falcon’s Wide Receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones combined for 164-yds receiving and a touchdown. Matt Ryan threw for 273-yds, 2 touchdowns, and an interception.
The final score was Cleveland 26, Atlanta 24. The Browns take away a great road win and improve to 7-4, while the Falcons woes continue at 4-7.