Despite a furious late-game comeback effort, turnovers, three-and-outs, chunk plays and multiple penalties doomed the Cleveland Browns in their inter-division matchup against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday.
The Browns (0-3) committed three turnovers, had four three-and-outs and were flagged 10 times for 113 yards, all of which combined with the explosive plays from quarterback Jacoby Brissett and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, and the Colts (1-2) rode that momentum to a 31-28 victory in front of their home fans.
Cleveland Browns battle Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium
Plagued by dropped passes from his wide receivers, Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer completed 22 of his 47 attempts for 242 yards and two touchdowns, but committed three turnovers, throwing two interceptions to Colts defensive back Rashaan Melvin and a third that spoiled the comeback attempt late in the fourth quarter.
Conversely, Brissett settled into a rhythm after just three weeks of work with the Colts following a trade from the New England Patriots, rushed for two touchdowns and completed 17 of his 24 throws for 259 yards and one touchdown, the first passing score of his NFL career.
Seven of Brissett’s completions went to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who accounted for 153 yards and one score in a winning effort.
After trading punts with the Browns over the first five drives of the game, the Colts mounted a scoring drive that Brissett punctuated with a five-yard touchdown run, which gave Indianapolis a 7-0 lead over the Browns with 24 seconds to play in the first quarter.
The Colts converted three third-down plays on the way to their first touchdown of the game.
The final third-down conversion came on the touchdown, when Brissett stepped his way out of a heavy rush from the Browns for the third consecutive play and scampered into the end zone untouched for the score.
The Colts answered the Browns’ quick scoring drive with one of their own early in the second quarter.
Facing a heavy rush from the Browns on third-and-two, Brissett stepped up in the pocket, spun away from a second wave of defenders, reversed his course from the right hash mark back toward the left side of the formation and sprinted into the end zone untouched.
Brissett’s second rushing touchdown of the game gave the Colts a 14-7 lead over the Browns with 10:06 to play in the first half.
Then, on their next possession, the Colts were backed up against their own goal line and nearly registered a safety on the first snap of the drive, but after that initial issue, all things went well for the home team in front of the home fans.
On third-and-six from his own 39-yard line, Brissett threw a short pass to Hilton on the right side of the formation, and instead of letting the Browns’ defense usher him into the sideline, he cut back, got away from rookie safety Jabrill Peppers and raced to the end zone for a 61-yard touchdown.
Brissett’s first career passing touchdown in the NFL gave the Colts a 21-7 lead over the Browns with 5:14 to play in the first half.
Earlier in the drive, the Colts had a second-and-12 from their own one-yard line, but Brissett took the shotgun snap and lobbed a pass down the left sideline for wide receiver Donte Moncrief. Moncrief cut off his route and won the jump ball against Browns defensive back Jason McCourty.
After forcing a Browns three-and-out, the Colts mounted their fourth straight touchdown drive of the first half and built a 28-7 lead when running back Frank Gore scored on a four-yard run up the middle with 2:41 to play in the second quarter.
The Colts got 20 free yards from the Browns before taking their first snap of the drive as Cleveland was flagged for a false start before the punt, and then, on the return, linebacker James Burgess was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness.
Two plays later, Peppers was flagged for pass interference against Hilton, and that penalty gave the Colts 34 more yards and moved Indianapolis to the Cleveland 11-yard line.