The Cleveland Browns needed four straight scoring drives to erase a deficit and build a three-point lead over Washington early in the second half, but three consecutive turnovers led to two touchdowns and a 31-20 loss at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, this afternoon.
Although the Browns responded defensively and forced a punt after one of their two lost fumbles in the second half, the two Washington touchdowns off of another fumble and interception proved to be too much for Cleveland to recover from on the road.
In the losing effort, rookie quarterback Cody Kessler completed 28 of his 40 attempts for 223 yards with one touchdown, but also, the interception on a potential go-ahead drive for the Browns late in the fourth quarter.
Additionally, running back Isaiah Crowell accounted for 112 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries, as well as 22 yards on three receptions in the loss.
Conversely, Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 21 of his 27 attempts for 183 yards and three touchdowns against one interception. Running back Matt Jones gave Cousins plenty of support as he rushed for 117 yards and one score on 22 carries.
Following four straight scoring drives from the Browns, Washington responded with a 91-yard touchdown drive that running back Chris Thompson capped off with a five-yard touchdown catch from Cousins with 10:39 to play in the fourth quarter.
After starting the drive with an incompletion, Cousins completed back-to-back passes for 15 and 16 yards respectively to wide receiver Jamison Crowder and Jones that moved the ball to Washington’s 40-yard line.
Later in the drive, Cousins threw another incompletion down the right side of the field to wide receiver DeSean Jackson, but that attempt drew a pass-interference penalty on two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden that gave Washington 21 yards.
Following three straight runs that moved the ball 30 yards, Cousins found Thompson for the touchdown.
Washington’s scoring drive was set up by a fumble from Browns fullback Malcolm Johnson as Cleveland was nearing the end zone.
Washington cornerback Josh Norman had some plays he would like to have back in the first half, but made up for it with an interception of Kessler midway through the fourth quarter.
Norman’s first interception with Washington set up a drive that Jones turned into a one-yard touchdown and a 31-20 lead over the Browns with 4:25 to play in the regulation.
Facing a second-and-two from his own 10-yard line, Kessler was looking for a pass down the left hash mark when Norman jumped the route and corralled the interception. Despite Norman drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for a bow-and-arrow celebration following the forced turnover, Washington started the drive on Cleveland’s side of midfield.
After a 23-yard pass from Cousins to wide receiver Pierre Garcon, Jones got the ball down to the one-yard line with a 16-yard gallop around left end. One play later, he scooted across the goal line for the lead-extending touchdown.