The Browns fell to the Philadelphia Eagles tonight in the third preseason game of the year for both teams. Coach Pat Shurmur played his starters for the majority of the first half (there were a few plays in which defensive backups entered the mix before halftime), and they repeatedly failed to respond to big momentum swings caused by turnovers and penalties.
Quarterback Colt McCoy said the ugly performances by the starters, save for a few bright spots like defensive tackle Phil Taylor, could actually be a good thing. He's hoping the loss will serve as a wake-up call for a young team that still has a ton of work to do before its regular-season opener on Sept. 11.
End 1Q: Eagles 7, Browns 0 -- The Browns won the coin toss and elected to receive, but their opening drive stalled after they gained one first down. After the Eagles took control, Browns rookie defensive tackle Phil Taylor sacked quarterback Michael Vick on third down and forced him to fumble. Browns defensive end Jayme Mitchell recovered the fumble at the Eagles' 18-yard line. The Browns, though, couldn't capitalize because cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie blocked kicker Phil Dawson's 33-yard field-goal attempt. The Browns eventually stopped the Eagles on the ensuing drive, but they couldn't cleanly field the Eagles' punt. Browns return man Jordan Norwood was tripped by teammate Sheldon Brown and the ball hit Norwood as he fell. Jon Dorenbos recovered for the Eagles at their 13-yard line. Two plays later, Ronnie Brown ran for a 13-yard touchdown. Alex Henery made the extra-point kick to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead with 4:53 left in the opening quarter. The Browns threatened to score late in the first quarter, but wide receiver Brian Robiskie was called for offensive pass interference while battling Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. The penalty negated Robiskie's 43-yard reception from quarterback Colt McCoy that would have placed the Browns at the Eagles' 5.
End 2Q: Eagles 17, Browns 0 -- Browns quarterback Colt McCoy started the second quarter by throwing an interception. Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel cut in front of Norwood to pick off McCoy's pass. The Eagles capitalized and extended their lead to 10-0 with 11:57 left in the second quarter when Henery made a 37-yard field goal. Later in the second quarter, Browns middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson appeared to make an excellent play by hitting Vick as he threw a pass that was picked off by free safety Mike Adams. However, Jackson was penalized for roughing the passer because the officials ruled that he made illegal contact with Vick's helmet. Adams' interception was wiped out, the Eagles' march continued and Vick eventually capped it by running for an 8-yard touchdown with 4:52 left before halftime. Henery's successful PAT gave the Eagles a 17-0 advantage.
End 3Q: Eagles 24, Browns 0 -- Three plays after the Browns muffed another punt, Eagles quarterback Vince Young ran for 10-yard touchdown with 4:06 left in the third quarter. Henery made the PAT. Undrafted rookie James Dockery couldn't haul in the punt.
End 4Q: Eagles 24, Browns 14 -- The Browns tacked on two touchdowns in the final quarter to make the score respectable, but they can't erase the memory of an ugly first half by the starters. Quarterback Seneca Wallace's pass ricocheted into the hands of tight end Alex Smith for a touchdown with 14:16 left in the final quarter. Quarterback Jarrett Brown completed a nine-play 71-yard drive by connecting with undrafted rookie wide receiver Chris Matthews with 1:57 left in the fourth quarter. Before scoring their final touchdown, the Browns gained possession when defensive end Auston English forced a fumble and defensive tackle Travis Ivey recovered it.
Preview stories via Ohio.com: 1. Browns running back Montario Hardesty is expected to make his 2011 preseason debut. 2. Scouting report for Browns vs. Eagles.
Top storylines -- 1. Hardesty is expected to play in his first game since he tore the ACL in his left knee on Sept. 2, 2010, in an exhibition game against the Chicago Bears. It will be interesting to see if the wet weather in Philadelphia (the forecast calls for rain during the game) affects coach Pat Shurmur's plans to use Hardesty tonight. A sloppy field certainly would not be an ideal surface for Hardesty. 2. The third preseason game of the year is traditionally known as the "dress rehearsal," but injuries will keep several Browns players out of the action. The following projected starters are among the Browns' inactives: wide receivers Josh Cribbs (hamstring) and Mohamed Massaquoi (left foot), left guard Eric Steinbach (back), strong safety T.J. Ward (hamstring), free safety Usama Young (hamstring) and weakside linebacker Chris Gocong (pinched nerve). 3. Browns quarterback Colt McCoy will be tested against a strong secondary, which is headlined by standout cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel. Shurmur said he's aiming to play his starters for at least a half, so McCoy should receive extensive playing time. 4. The Browns' defense also will be challenged. Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and the rest of the offensive starters were shut out in their most recent preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Vick and Co. will look to get back on track tonight. 5. The Browns and Eagles have a seemingly countless number of ties, so plenty of familiar faces will reunite tonight. Eagles coach Andy Reid is a disciple of Browns President Mike Holmgren. The two won Super Bowl XXXI together during their days as coaches for the Green Bay Packers. Shurmur has Reid to thank for his start in the NFL. He spent 10 years as an assistant coach in Philadelphia. Browns General Manager Tom Heckert worked in the Eagles’ personnel department from 2001-09. He has brought several former Eagles, including cornerbacks Sheldon Brown and Dimitri Patterson and linebacker Chris Gocong, to Cleveland. Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron coached the Eagles' defensive backs last season.
Inactive players -- Browns: Cribbs, Massaquoi, Steinbach, Ward, Young, Gocong, cornerback Dimitri Patterson (ankle), running back Brandon Jackson (toe), wide receiver Carlton Mitchell (finger surgery), linebacker Steven Octavien (unspecified), strong safety Eric Hagg (left knee surgery) and defensive end Jabari Fletcher (right knee). Eagles: wide receivers Jeremy Maclin (illness) and Steve Smith (knee), safety Marlin Jackson (groin), defensive ends Brandon Graham (knee) and Juqua Parker (calf), defensive tackle Antonio Dixon (back), offensive linemen Winston Justice (knee) and Ryan Harris (back).
Lineup changes -- Browns: rookie Jason Pinkston will start at left guard in place of Steinbach; rookie Greg Little will start at wide receiver in place of Cribbs; Kaluka Maiava will start at weakside linebacker in place of Gocong; Mike Adams will start at free safety in place of Young; Ray Ventrone will start at strong safety in place of Ward. Eagles: Riley Cooper will start at wide receiver in place of Maclin; Jason Babin will start at defensive end in place of Parker; Jason Kelce will start at center in place of Jamaal Jackson; Jarrad Page will start at strong safety in place of Nate Allen; Cullen Jenkins will start at defensive tackle in place of Antonio Dixon.