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Defeat shows Browns still vulnerable

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Posted Dec. 14, 2010 @ 5:40 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

The Browns' 13-6 loss at Buffalo Sunday snapped a two-game winning streak for Cleveland, leaving the Browns in need of three straight wins to finish .500 and ranking as perhaps the club's most disappointing effort of the season. Cleveland committed three turnovers, was outgained 323-187 and lost to a Bills team that had won all of two games previously.

On Monday, when asked if he believed the Browns, who had won four of their previous six games, had moved past playing games like that, head coach Eric Mangini said: "I believe that we're in that phase of trying to win consistently ... and it is a part of growth of any organization. It's the game-day component of it, and it's the day-in and day-out component of it and we all need to do that better in this phase."

The PFW spin

This defeat, as well as the nature of the loss, were humbling for 5-8 Cleveland, which had shown such improvement in prior weeks.

The poor play from the offense was especially glaring. Facing one of the NFL's worst defenses, the Browns racked up just nine first downs and converted just 2-of-10 third downs. After racking up 54 yards on their first drive, the Browns accumulated 133 yards on 37 plays the rest of the game.

Cleveland's passing game sputtered. Cleveland had just one passing play of longer than 15 yards. QB Jake Delhomme threw for just 86 yards and committed two of Cleveland's three turnovers. The Bills did a very good job forcing Delhomme to check down to receivers who were left to try to create after the catch as the Buffalo defense closed in.

The Browns' running game was better than the passing game, and RB Peyton Hillis was again the Browns' best offensive player (21 carries, 108 yards). However, he fumbled three times, running his season total to eight (five lost).

The Browns' defense allowed a respectable 4.8 yards per play in defeat but faltered at some key moments. Cleveland surrendered 192 yards rushing and could not stop RB Fred Jackson (29 carries, 112 yards) late in the game with the Bills in run-first mode while protecting their seven-point lead. The Browns also gave up 49 yards on four carries to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Overall, it was an underwhelming performance for a Browns club that had raised expectations with its recent play. The lesson? At their best, the Browns can play with the NFL's best; at their worst, they are vulnerable against anyone.

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