CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns moved the ball well against the Denver Broncos at Empower Stadium in Denver Sunday, but their problem came with finishing off drives in the end zone rather than field goal attempts.
The Browns went just one for five in red-zone appearances, meaning they scored just one touchdown in five trips inside Denver’s 20-yard line on the way to a 24-19 loss to the Broncos.
“Anytime you go one for five in the red zone, it’s about execution,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. “You’ve got to first be able to continue to run the ball down there, and then, when you decide to throw the ball, you’ve got to execute.”
On the Browns’ first three trips inside the red zone, they settled for field goals of 39, 30 and 27 yards from rookie kicker Austin Seibert, who extended his consecutive successful attempts streak to 14 straight by going four for four on Sunday.
The Browns turned over the ball on downs on their fourth red-zone appearance when quarterback Baker Mayfield got a less-than-favorable spot on a sneak on fourth-and-one. The Broncos responded to the stop by engineering a 95-yard touchdown drive with 1:06 remaining in the third quarter.
“You’ve got to block who you’re supposed to block, you’re supposed to run the right route, you’re supposed to throw the ball in the right place,” Kitchens said. “I’m not saying any of those happened. I’m just saying that’s how you execute in the red zone.
“The field tightens, you have to be more precise. We completed one out of the back of the end zone, wide open and had a challenge for another ball in the end zone the next drive down there. We’ve just got to execute better down there.”
After back-to-back losses on the road to the New England Patriots and Broncos, the Browns are set to return to FirstEnergy Stadium for consecutive home games for the first time this season.
The Browns host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, November 10, and then, just four days later, welcome the Pittsburgh Steelers to the North Coast for a “Thursday Night Football” matchup between the AFC North Division rivals.
In order for the Browns to make any red-zone trips count against Buffalo and Pittsburgh, Kitchens is focused on making practices even more crisp so problems like overthrows, missed assignments, penalties and turnovers do not impede the chances of winning over the second half of the season.
“We’ve got to be precise on our route-running,” Kitchens said. “We’ve got to be precise on our throws. We’ve got to be precise on our blocks. It goes back to you’ve got to be able to run the ball down there. You’ve got to be precise.
“Precision is of the utmost of importance when you get into the red zone because the windows are so small. Earlier in the year, you saw we were a little bit off with our windows and they’re batted balls and they’re picks. You have to be extremely precise with your landmarks, angles and things like that down there. I think we can always get better at that kind of stuff, but then, you’ve got to be able to run the ball when you get down there.”