Browns kick last second FG to beat Falcons

When Falcons kicker Matt Bryant has a chance to kick game-winning field goal, he hits it with no problem. And that was the case against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon at the Georgia Dome when he hit a 53-yarder to give the Falcons the 24-23 lead with 44 seconds left.

But the Browns had all three of their timeouts and were able to move the ball to the Falcons 19-yard line. That led to a Billy Cundiff 37-yard field goal to give the Browns the 26-24 win.

“We knew they were playing for a field goal,” Falcons head coach Mike Smith said. “We wanted to keep them out of field goal range, and it’s something we did not do.”

Before the Browns game-winning-drive and right before the Bryant 53-yard field goal, the Falcons had the ball at the Browns 35-yard line and it was third and two. Before that, the Falcons called timeout to stop the clock with 55 seconds left and instead of running the football, Matt Ryan threw a deep pass to Devin Hester which went incomplete.

“In that situation we wanted to make sure we had the right call,” Ryan said who went 27-of-43 with 273 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. As a player, it comes down to execution. You have to go out there and you have to make the play, and I didn’t do that.”

When the Falcons took the lead with 55 seconds left in the game, they had the momentum. The defense came up with two interceptions. The first was from Desmond Trufant who picked off Brian Hoyer in the end zone, which would have given the Browns a nine-point lead. The other came late in the quarter from Dezmen Southward when the Browns were trying to run out the clock, and that turnover also gave Bryant the chance to kick the 53-yard field goal.

But when the defense needed to stop them at the end of the game, they came up short.

“As a defense, we got to get that stop,” Trufant said. “We got to get that stop, point blank.”

The Falcons led 14-13 at the half and they had the momentum then because Ryan threw a 8-yard touchdown pass to Jacquizz Rodgers to give them the lead. The scoring drive was possible because Kemal Ishmael picked off Hoyer on the previous drive to give the Falcons a short field with three minutes left in the half.

But the third quarter was all Cleveland, scoring 10 unanswered points. And the reason for the surge was the running of former UGA standout Isaiah Crowell. He ran for 44 yards on four carries in the third quarter including a 26-yard touchdown run to give the Browns the 23-14 lead. Crowell finished with 88 yards on 12 carries with two scores.

“That is frustrating, especially on that Crowell touchdown run, where numerous guys had a chance at him,” Falcons linebacker Paul Worrilow said. “You have to get him down and make them play the next down.”

The Falcons got on the board first when Ryan found Julio Jones for a 24-yard touchdown pass. The drive was 10-plays, 57 yards and lasted nearly four and a half minutes. But on the ensuing drive, the Browns tied things up when Crowell scored on an 11-yard run.

The Browns took the lead early in the second quarter when Cundiff kicked a 33-yard field goal. Cundiff kicked another field goal later in the quarter (37 yards) to add three more points to their lead.

Both scoring drives for the Browns in the second quarter came off of turnovers by Ryan. The first turnover came on the first play in the second quarter when Ryan threw an interception to Joe Hayden. The second was a fumble by Ryan when he was getting sacked. Paul Kruger sacked Ryan, forced the fumble and it was recovered by Desmond Bryant.

With the loss, the Falcons are 4-7 and are half a game out of the first place lead in the NFC South which is now held by the New Orleans Saints. The loss snaps a two game losing streak and the Falcons are now 0-7 on the year against non-divisional teams. Inconsistency has been the reason the Falcons lack of success and it’s something Smith wants to fix.

“It’s very frustrating when you don’t play consistent football,” Smith said. You train all week; these guys work extremely hard. We were an inconsistent football team on both sides of the ball. When you’re not consistent, you’re not going to make the plays when you need to. That was case and point today.

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