So much for the Falcons’ season-saving win streak.
The Falcons came out flat and got steamrolled by the lowly Browns 28-16 before a raucous and faithful fan base of 62,144 on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“We just came out flat today,” said rookie linebacker Foye Oluokun, who was about the only player to openly admit what happened.
» Michael Cunningham: Falcons looked inept, confused in loss
While the offense was out of sync, the defense was left exposed by Cleveland rookies -- quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Nick Chubb.
“It was disappointing,” quarterback Matt Ryan said.
The Falcons, who had won three in a row, dropped to 4-5. The Browns, who had dropped four in a row, improved to 3-6-1 with the upset.
“We took a step back today,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “That’s tough to see and tough to say.”
Chubb rushed 20 times for 176 yards and one touchdown. He also had three catches for 33 yards and a 13-yard touchdown reception. Mayfield completed 17 of 20 passes for 216 yards and threw three touchdowns.
Chubb’s 92-yard rushing touchdown was the longest in Cleveland Browns’ history.
Here are the five things we learned from the loss:
1. Fourth-and-Saubert: Down 28-10 on a fourth-and-goal from the Browns’ 1-yard line with 11:29 to play, the Falcons tried to pass to third-string tight end Eric Saubert in the back of the end zone.
The pass was incomplete.
The Falcons needed a score to start a rally, but failed.
» Photos: An ugly loss in Cleveland
The Falcons added a Ryan to Austin Hooper touchdown with 4:24 to play, but the two-point conversion was foiled.
“We expect a lot more out of ourselves,” left tackle Jake Matthews said. “We have to learn from it. We are a really a good team. We just have got to bounce back.”
“It started with the turnover (in the third quarter) and kind of went worse from there,” Quinn said.
In last week’s win over the Redskins, the Falcons scored right before the half and opened the third quarter with a touchdown drive.
Against the Browns, they failed to score right before halftime after Cleveland took a 14-10 lead with 55 seconds left in the second quarter. Ryan was sacked by Emmanuel Ogbah and Larry Ogunjobi to end the last drive of the second quarter.
Sanu unwisely stuck the ball out while he was 14 yards short of a first down. He fumbled and the Browns recovered.
“You saw it,” Sanu said when asked about the fumble. “I reached it out and he knocked it out. It was simple.”
But why reach the ball out so far away from the first down marker?
“I was falling forward,” said Sanu, who was heard mumbling “stupid question” while walking off.
The Browns added a touchdown after the turnover when Mayfield tossed a 13-yard pass to Chubb. Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell was fooled by misdirection on the play.
3. Run into the record books: Chubb, of Cedartown and Georgia, had a historic 92-yard touchdown run.
The score put the Browns up 28-10 with 8:45 to play in the third quarter.
The touchdown was the longest rushing touchdown in Cleveland franchise history.
After starring for the Bulldogs, Chubb was selected in the second round (35th overall) of the 2018 NFL draft.
“It was definitely very special to be in this place with so much history and so many other great running backs and to be a part of it and breaking records, it’s a great feeling,” Chubb said.
The Falcons’ run defense was stout as they held the Redskins’ Adrian Peterson to 17 yards on nine carries in the previous game.
But Chubb, who ran with speed and power, was too tough for the Falcons.
“We have to get back to getting energized and getting to the ball,” Oluokun said. “We have to get everybody to the ball.”
4. Mayfield on fire: Led by two touchdown passes from Mayfield, the Browns lead the Falcons 14-10 at halftime.
Mayfield tossed 28-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rashard Higgins and the 13-yard touchdown pass to Chubb in the first half.
The Browns have dominated the series with the Falcons, winning 12 of 15 meetings, including four of the past five.
Mayfield joins Brian Hoyer, Charlie Frye and Tim Couch/Kelly Holcomb as winning Browns quarterbacks over the Falcons since 2002.
5. Record book: Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones caught a 30-yard pass against the Browns in the second quarter to go over the 10,000-yard receiving mark in his career.
“I was out here trying to get the win today,” Jones said. “I’ve been playing okay, but that’s not anything that’s in my head right now. We’ve got to find a way to win ball games.”
Over 102 career games, Jones entered the game with 9,987 yards. He reached the 10,000-yard mark in his 103rd career game, which made him the fastest player in NFL history to reach that mark – by a large margin – in the league’s modern passing era.
Detroit’s Calvin Johnson crossed the 10,000-yard mark in his 115th game.
Johnson retired from the NFL after the 2015 season with 11,619 receiving yards, which are 30th all-time among NFL receivers, and 83 touchdowns, which ties him for 22nd all-time.
Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown reached the 10,000-yard mark in 116 games.
Before Johnson set the mark in 2014, Torry Holt held the record of reaching 10,000 receiving yards the fastest, accomplishing that in 2006 in 116 games.
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