The Browns lost to the Indianapolis Colts 27-6 in the third preseason game for both teams tonight at Lucas Oil Stadium. Below is our game day blog.
End 4Q: Colts 27, Browns 6
Backup quarterback Jason Campbell led the Browns on a solid drive (13-play, 65 yards) but was sacked and hit multiple times on the final play. He slowly walked off the field and did not return. Graham hit a 44-yard field goal. Cordell Roberson then had an interesting five minutes. First, he recovered an onside kick and on the next play let Brian Hoyer’s first pass of the night bounce off his hands. It was picked off by Larry Asante and returned for a touchdown. On his next attempt, Hoyer found him open in the middle of the field and with room to run, and he dropped it as well. Campbell finished 8-of-14 for 112 yards.
End 3Q: Colts 20, Browns 3
Most of the offensive starters came out for two drives in the third quarter (Trent Richardson was done at halftime). The only bright spots in the Browns’ first two drives were Josh Cooper, who caught two passes on third downs that moved the chains, and kicker Shayne Graham, who got the Browns on the board with a 50-yard field goal with 7:16 left in the quarter. Josh Gordon dropped a would-be first-down catch on a slant in the first drive. Punter Spencer Lanning had another boomer of a punt, crushing his fourth attempt 60 yards. Brandon Weeden finished the game 12-25 for 105 yards and a quarterback rating of only 59.6. Weeden’s counterpart, Luck, is 16-25 for 164 yards, two touchdowns and an interception (QB rating of 92.8). Browns tight end quarter found himself wide open twice in the quarter and was twice missed on throws, first by Weeden and then by Jason Campbell. Brandon Jackson was later stopped short on a fourth-and-1.
End 2Q: Colts 10, Browns 0
The Colts took a 10-0 lead on an eight-play, 66-yard drive in which Luck picked apart the Browns secondary, particularly third-round rookie cornerback Leon McFadden. Luck completed passes of 13, 14, 15, 7 and 3 yards and added two 6-yard rushes as well. The Colts found the end zone on Luck’s 3-yard pass to Stanley Havili with 8:13 left in the quarter. It’s the first touchdown the Browns first-team defense has allowed this preseason. The Browns didn’t do much of anything offensively in the quarter. Greg Little made a nice catch along the sidelines and then dealt out some punishment of his own, but later in that same drive caught another pass but then fumbled the ball. The Colts recovered and on top of it, second-year tackle Mitchell Schwartz tacked on 15 yards with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after he jumped on the pile after the play. The Colts drove down the field quickly again but didn’t come away with any points. On 2nd and goal from the 4-yard line, Luck’s pass went off of Havili’s hands. Free safety Tashaun Gipson corralled the pass for an interception. Punter Spencer Lanning had two misses before an absolute bomb. His first two punts went for 60 yards total before he booted his third attempt 65 yards. Weeden finished the half 8-of-15 for 66 yards. Richardson has seven carries for 31 yards and one reception for 10 yards. Little has three catches for 28 yards.
End 1Q: Colts 3, Browns 0
The Browns have gotten some pressure on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, highlighted by Paul Kruger's sack on the first drive of the game. Billy Winn also brought Luck down just past the line of scrimmage later in the quarter. Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri ended that drive with a 32-yard field goal with 8:52 to go. The Browns had a Trent Richardson-heavy first drive—he carried the ball three times for 22 yards and had a catch for 10 yards which included a great juke move near the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Brandon Weeded was 4-4 for 22 yards but the drive was stalled on Joe Thomas' holding penalty that put the Browns in a 2nd-and-18.
Top storylines: 1. Promising start: The Browns will try to keep their momentum alive in their "dress rehearsal" against the Colts. The Browns prevailed in their first two preseason games against the St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions, and the starters outscored their counterparts 34-3. The Browns are hoping to start the preseason with a record of 3-0 for the first time since 1994, when Cleveland went 3-1 in exhibition games and 11-5 in the regular season to earn a playoff berth. Coach Rob Chudzinski said most of his starters will play the entire first half and one series in the third quarter. 2. Staying hot: Brandon Weeden, who was named the Browns’ starting quarterback Tuesday, will look to build on his hot start. So far, Weeden has completed 18-of-25 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions and a rating of 139.8. He’ll be a in quarterback duel with Andrew Luck, whom the Colts draft No. 1 overall last year. Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft, won his head-to-head matchup with Luck, a Stanford product, to cap his college career at Oklahoma State. 3. Serious challenge: The Browns’ starting defense has tallied four three-and-outs and a turnover in its seven series this preseason. Luck and Co. should provide a good test in extended playing time. Starting right outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard is expected to sit out with an injured knee, meaning Quentin Groves will move in to the starting lineup. Starting right defensive end Desmond Bryant will sit out with back spasms, and Billy Winn will replace him. 4. Auditions in spotlight: The Browns will put several position battles under a microscope tonight. Chudzinski listed right cornerback, right guard, kicker and punter as unsettled positions. Buster Skrine and Chris Owens, who’s hobbled by a strained foot, are fighting for the starting job opposite cornerback Joe Haden. Veteran backup tackle Oniel Cousins will start tonight at right guard, but rookie Garrett Gilkey will also expected to receive playing time with the first-team offense, Chudzinski said. Shayne Graham is set to handle all of the kicking duties as Brandon Bogotay sits out with a strained groin, and Spencer Lanning aims to show he can be a reliable punter after the team waived his competition, T.J. Conley, this week. 5. Debut to watch: Rookie cornerback Leon McFadden will make his NFL preseason debut after missing the first two exhibition games with a strained groin. McFadden, a third-round pick in this year’s draft, will play with the first-team defense when it employs its nickel package, Chudzinski said.
Inactives: Browns – kicker Brandon Bogotay (strained groin), wide receiver Jordan Norwood (hamstring), wide receiver David Nelson (bone bruise in knee), wide receiver Davone Bess (tendinitis in knee), running back Montario Hardesty (arthroscopic knee surgery), cornerback Chris Owens (strained foot arch), cornerback Trevin Wade (sprained AC joint in shoulder), running back Dion Lewis (surgery on fractured fibula), outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo (bruised lung), offensive tackle Ryan Miller (concussion), guard Jason Pinkston (high ankle sprain), guard Shawn Lauvao (high ankle sprain and arthroscopic surgery), offensive lineman Chris Faulk (arthroscopic knee surgery), tight end Gary Barnidge (sprained AC join in shoulder), wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt (hamstring), defensive end Desmond Bryant (back spasms) and outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard (knee). Colts -- wide receivers Maurice Williams and LaVon Brazill, cornerback Teddy Williams, safeties Joe Lefeged and John Boyett, running back Ahmad Bradshaw, linebackers Josh McNary and Kelvin Sheppard, center/guard Khaled Holmes, outside linebacker Lawrence Sidbury, guard/center Mike McGlynn, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen and defensive end Fili Moala.
Lineup changes: Browns – Oniel Cousins will start at right guard in place of Pinkston and Lauvao; Billy Winn will start at right defensive end in place of Bryant; Quentin Groves will start at right outside linebacker in place of Sheard; and Skrine will start at right cornerback with Owens out.
Preview stories via Ohio.com: 1. Key position battles to watch when the Browns face the Colts. 2. Notebook: Chris Ogbonnaya takes pride in versatility and wants to prove he can juggle roles for Browns. 3. Notebook: Several Browns players won’t face the Colts.