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Game day blog: Browns at Cardinals (Week 15)

By Nate Ulrich Published: December 18, 2011

Final score: Cardinals 20, Browns 17, OT (game story; notebook; box score)

Game action

End 1Q: Browns 7, Cardinals 0 -- The Browns and running back Peyton Hillis came out swinging during their opening drive. Hillis had runs of 18 and 12 yards to help set up his 1-yard rushing touchdown with 11:33 left in the first quarter. The Browns had first-and-goal at the Cardinals’ 4-yard line after quarterback Seneca Wallace connected with wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi for a 29-yard completion on a fade route along the sideline. Hillis then had consecutive rushes of 3 and 1 yards to reach the end zone. It was the second time this season the Browns have scored a touchdown on their opening drive. Hillis finished the first quarter with nine carries for 51 yards (5.7 average).

End 2Q: Browns 10, Cardinals 7 -- The Browns extended their lead to 10-0 when Phil Dawson made a 44-yard field goal with 11:33 left in the second quarter, capping a 15-play, 54-yard drive that lasted 7 minutes, 19 seconds. Browns tight end Alex Smith suffered a shoulder injury during the march, but he returned midway through the second quarter. The Browns settled for Dawson’s field goal after Wallace completed a pass to wide receiver Jordan Norwood for an 8-yard gain on a slant route. The gain set up fourth-and-2 at the Cardinals’ 27. On third-and-4 at the Browns’ 48, rookie defensive end Jabaal Sheard sacked Cardinals quarterback John Skelton for a loss of 8 yards. The Cardinals then punted for the third time. Sheard leads the team with 6.5 sacks this season and has passed Michael Dean Perry (six sacks in 1988) for the second-most sacks by a Browns rookie. The Cardinals gained possession at their own 35 with 1:49 left in the first half. They produced a nine-play, 65-yard touchdown drive, trimming their deficit to 10-7 at halftime. Skelton threw a 9-yard touchdown pass over the reach of free safety Mike Adams and into the hands of wide receiver Andre Roberts in the back corner of the end zone with 19 seconds left in the second quarter.

End 3Q: Browns 17, Cardinals 7 -- The Browns had a first down negated on their first drive of the third quarter. On third-and-1 at the Browns’ 37, Wallace escaped pressure by rolling to his left, then completed a pass over the middle to Hillis for what would have been a first down. But the officials penalized tight end Alex Smith for blocking down the field as Wallace scrambled, and the Browns’ first down was wiped out. One play later, Wallace completed a pass to rookie wide receiver Greg Little, who fell inches short of gaining the 11 yards the Browns needed for a first down. The Cardinals, though, couldn’t capitalize after the Browns punted. Strongside linebacker Chris Gocong sacked Skelton on second-and-6 at the Browns’ 45. Skelton’s subsequent pass to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was low and resulted in an incompletion despite Fitzgerald’s sliding attempt. During the ensuing drive, Wallace rolled to his right to escape pressure on third-and-8 at the Browns’ 24. He then connected with Little, who outran linebacker Daryl Washington along the sideline to score a 76-yard touchdown with 3:01 left in the third quarter. Little leaped and slammed the ball over the crossbar, then folded his arms and looked at the crowd. Dawson’s extra point gave the Browns a 17-7 lead. With 1:04 left in the third quarter, Browns rookie cornerback Buster Skrine recorded his first career interception at the Browns’ 24. The ball bounced off Cardinals wide receiver Early Doucet’s chest, and Skrine caught it off the deflection.

End 4Q: Browns 17, Cardinals 17 -- The Cardinals trimmed their deficit to 17-14 after running back Beanie Wells capped an 11-play, 87-yard drive by rushing for a 1-yard touchdown with 8:33 left in the fourth quarter. The Browns were penalized for defensive holding on second-and-3 at their own 7, giving the Cardinals a first down at the 1. Two plays later, Wells scored. During the Browns’ next possession, Cardinals linebacker O’Brien Schofield sacked Wallace on consecutive plays. After a challenge from the Cardinals, the officials ruled that Wallace fumbled at the Browns’ 5 as he was sacked the second time, and the Cardinals recovered. The Browns’ defense responded by forcing the Cardinals to lose 10 yards. Rookie defensive end Jabaal Sheard recorded his second sack of the game to aid the effort. Still, the Cardinals tied the score 17-17 when Jay Feely made a 33-yard field goal with 5:40 left in the fourth quarter.

End OT: Cardinals 20, Browns 17 -- The Browns won the coin toss and elected to receive to start overtime, but they didn’t get the job done during their only drive after regulation. They gained one first down and punted to rookie Patrick Peterson, who returned the punt 32 yards to the Browns’ 40-yard line. Three plays later, Cardinals quarterback John Skelton completed a 32-yard pass to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, setting up Jay Feely’s game-winning, 22-yard field goal with 10:56 left in overtime.

Pregame notes

Inactives: Browns -- QB Colt McCoy (concussion), FB Owen Marecic (concussion), SS T.J. Ward (sprained right foot), CB James Dockery, OL Steve Vallos, DL Kiante Tripp and OL Oniel Cousins. Cardinals -- QB Kevin Kolb (concussion), WR Stephen Williams, S Sean Considine (foot), LB Joey Porter (knee), T D'Anthony Batiste, WR Jaymar Johnson and WR DeMarco Sampson (ribs).

Lineup changes: Browns -- Seneca Wallace will start at quarterback in place of McCoy; Usama Young will start at strong safety in place of Ward. Cardinals -- John Skelton will start at quarterback in place of Kolb; Sam Acho will start at outside linebacker in place of Porter; Rashad Johnson will start at free safety in place of Kerry Rhodes.

Storylines -- 1. Browns backup quarterback Seneca Wallace will step into a starting role today for the first time this season. Meanwhile, starting quarterback Colt McCoy continues to recover from the concussion he suffered as a result of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison’s controversial, helmet-to-face-mask hit. Wallace has a deep knowledge of the West Coast offense, but will it pay off against the Arizona Cardinals, whose defense is on a roll? 2. The Cardinals also could be without the services of their starting quarterback, Kevin Kolb. He suffered a concussion last week against the San Francisco 49ers and was limited in practice this past week. Backup quarterback John Skelton has struggled along with the entire offense this season. Still, Skelton has a record of 3-1 as a starter this year. 3. After following their season-opening win with six consecutive losses, the Cardinals (6-7) have become one of the hottest teams in the NFL by prevailing in five of their past six games. On the other hand, the Browns (4-9) have lost six of their past seven games. They started the season with a record of 2-1. 4. Browns running back Peyton Hillis said his strained left hip bothered him Dec. 8 against the Steelers. But Hillis said he believes he’s becoming healthy for the first time in months, and coach Pat Shurmur said he’s looking forward to Hillis “playing quite a bit” against the Cardinals. With Hillis’ contract set to expire after the season, will he be able to make a push in the final three games? 5. Browns-Cardinals connections: Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt was a special teams coordinator for the Browns (1999). ... Browns linebackers coach Bill Davis coached for the Cardinals for four seasons and was their defensive coordinator during the past two years. ... Browns offensive line coach George Warhop had the same job with the Cardinals (1998-2002). ... Browns wide receivers coach Mike Wilson coached tight ends (2004) and wide receivers (2005-06) for the Cardinals. ... Defensive tackle Nick Eason (2004-06), offensive lineman Rex Hadnot (2008-09), wide receiver Chansi Stuckey (2009-10) and punter Dave Zastudil (2006-10) played for the Browns and are now with the Cardinals. Northeast Ohio connections: Cardinals running back Beanie Wells is an Akron native who went to Garfield High School and Ohio State. ... Cardinals scout Don Corzine is a North Canton native. … Zastudil is from Bay Village.

Preview stories via 1. The Browns are aiming to take Cardinals rookie Patrick Peterson, who has four punt returns for touchdowns this season, out of the equation. 2. Matchup of the week: The Browns vow to use all their resources in an attempt to limit Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. 3. Keys to the game. 4. Storylines. 5. Numbers to watch. 6. Quote of the week. 7. Injury report. 8. Predictions.


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