CLEVELAND — It was a rough late-afternoon kickoff and finish for the Browns against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Cleveland has now dropped two in a row for the first time under Kevin Stefanski, lost its first game at home this season, and falls to .500 at 3-3. As for the Cardinals, it looks like they're very much for real, as they go to 6-0 even without their head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Kingsbury and a lot of Arizona's top defensive linemen were out with COVID, but it did not deter Kyler Murray and the offense. But let's deal with our team right now.
The Browns went into the game without their top two offensive tackles, and that was a problem. James Hudson III and Blake Hance went in on the right and left sides, respectively, J.J. Watt had his best game so far this season, and Baker Mayfield was under stress in the pocket for much of the afternoon.
Mayfield got belted around a number of times, which led to him injuring his shoulder after a fumble late in the game. He had to come out and go to the tent, but came back in before handing the ball to Case Keenum with the game well out of touch.
The Browns also lost Kareem Hunt, who played hard in Nick Chubb's absence. He got hurt late in the fourth quarter with Cleveland down at the Arizona 7-yard line and trying to convert a fourth down, and it looks like he could be lost for some time. He was taken off the field in a golf cart and was really upset and emotional, signifying he knew the injury was pretty significant.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah also had to be taken to the locker room with an ankle injury. Remember, the Browns come back and play on Thursday night against the Denver Broncos, and the injuries just keep piling up.
The other issue that hit the Browns last week as well as today was the defense. A ton of money and a lot of draft capital were spent to build that defense back, but it has been torched the last two games. Murray threw four touchdown passes, and the very fact that guys are running wide open against the secondary is a real problem.
It could be third-down-and-whatever and the teams playing against the Browns end up with huge plays that keep drives going if not score all the way. Defensively, they're just not getting it, and unless they can turn that around, there are going to be a lot of long Sundays.
You could try to run the ball against the Browns, but why? Just throw the ball on them and you're going to have a great deal of success. Really, the defense has been a huge disappointment, and certainly in the last two weeks.
Finally, you look at the Browns' offense once again and you wonder where it is going. Baker Mayfield is taking a beating because the offensive line is beaten up and injured, missing its top two tackles in Jedrick Wills Jr. and Jack Conklin. Are they going to be able to operate that way? Will they have a running game on Thursday night? On that note, if Chubb misses again and Hunt is out, that's going to be a huge issue, for its what the Browns built this whole thing on.
The passing was a problem for Mayfield during the game, except for a Hail Mary heave on the last play of the first half. Donovan Peoples-Jones made a miraculous 57-yard touchdown catch to get the Browns within nine (one of two scores for him on the day), but they could get no closer than that.
A disappointing afternoon. The Browns lose at home, they're .500, they're hurt, and they don't have a whole lot of time to get better.
Listen to Jimmy's top calls from today's game in the player below: