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Game day blog: Browns vs. Atlanta Falcons (Week 5)

By Nate Ulrich Published: October 10, 2010

Final recap: Falcons 20, Browns 10 (click here for the box score)

With their top two quarterbacks hobbled with sprained right ankles, the Browns (1-4) simply couldn't generate enough firepower in their loss to the Atlanta Falcons (4-1) on Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium. They couldn't even rely on their bread and butter, finishing with only 20 carries for a measly 48 yards (2.4 average). Yes, running back Peyton Hillis (strained quadriceps) was playing hurt, too. Seneca Wallace started at quarterback for Cleveland for the fourth consecutive week, but he sprained his right ankle late in the first half after being hit and landed on by Falcons defensive end John Abraham. Jake Delhomme replaced Wallace , but his right high-ankle sprain that he suffered in the season opener was not fully healed, and it seemed to bother him more and more as the game progressed. Delhomme threw two interceptions, including one that was returned 31 yards by Falcons defensive end Kroy Biermann for a backbreaking touchdown with 4:01 left in the fourth quarter. His second interception that sailed into the hands of Falcons linebacker Stephen Nichols sealed Atlanta's fourth consecutive win. With an inept running attack -- the Browns ran wild in Weeks 3 and 4 as Hillis finished with more than 100 yards rushing in each game -- Cleveland made itself vulnerable to a full-force pass rush from the Falcons. Atlanta finished with three sacks and four quarterback hits. Abraham did most of the damage. He repeatedly beat Browns Pro Bowl offensive left tackle Joe Thomas around the edge, finishing with two sacks and three quarterback hits. In addition to forcing Wallace out of the game, Abraham applied pressure on Delhomme as he threw his final interception. The Browns lost the turnover battle 3-1. On defense, the Browns denied the Falcons a touchdown on their three trips to the red zone. They also forced a Atlanta's lone turnover when linebacker Scott Fujita sacked quarterback Matt Ryan, forcing a fumble that was recovered by defensive end Kenyon Coleman. But the defense also allowed Falcons running back Michael Turner to gain 140 yards on 19 carries, including a 55-yard run, and wide receiver Roddy White to break free past cornerback Sheldon Brown for a 45-yard touchdown reception from Ryan. Those big plays added insult to the Browns' injuries, and there were plenty of ailing players for the home team. Depending on the health of Delhomme and Wallace, the Browns might need to acquire a new quarterback before their Week 6 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Game action

End 1Q: Falcons 0, Browns 0 -- No scoring. Instant impressions -- 1. Browns running back Peyton Hillis fumbled on his second carry, and Falcons safety William Moore recovered. Cleveland simply can't afford to lose the turnover battle if it hopes to pull off an upset. 2. Hillis should thank Browns linebacker Marcus Benard, who sacked quarterback Matt Ryan to end the Falcons' drive on the ensuing series. 3. Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown nearly had an interception as he broke up a pass to end the Falcons' second offensive series. Through two series, the Browns' defensive backs have performed well. 4. Browns running back Jerome Harrison entered the game during the Browns' third series. Is Hillis being punished for fumbling? He doesn't appear to be hurt on the sideline. 5. Browns offensive left tackle was beaten while pass blocking defensive end John Abraham, who sacked Wallace. 6. Third-and-19 at their own 20, and the Browns called a running play for fullback Lawrence Vickers. Talk about conservative. Of course, the Browns didn't come close to gaining a first down with Vickers' run. 7. The Browns committed two stupid penalties on defense as the Falcons drove into the red zone before the end of the first quarter. Benard got called for roughing the pass, and defensive end Kenyon Coleman was called for a personal foul for throwing an offensive lineman down after the play had ended.

End 2Q: Browns 7, Falcons 6 -- 1. Matt Bryant made a 24-yard field goal to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead with 14:49 left in the second quarter. 2. On third-and-5, Seneca Wallace hit Hillis with a 19-yard touchdown pass. Hillis tipped the pass with his left hand, juggled it a bit and hauled it in. Phil Dawson made the extra-point kick to give the Browns a 7-3 lead. 3. Bryant made another field goal, this time a 30-yard attempt, to trim the Falcons' deficit to 7-6 with 5:00 left in the second quarter.  Instant impressions -- 1. Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi is finally making his presence felt. He's made a few nice catches and almost made another one in the back corner of the end zone. The replay indicated he couldn't get both feet inbounds. 2. Give Hillis style points for focusing and completing the catch on his touchdown. He still probably feels bad about fumbling, but at least he earned some redemption. 3. Ryan showed why he's a great quarterback. On third down, he completed a 16-yard pass to tight end Tony Gonzalez as he was crushed by Benard. 4. The Browns' cornerbacks continue to cover well in the red zone. Ryan had to throw the ball away again on a third-down play, and the Falcons had to settle for another field goal. Is this the week the defense makes a statement? 5. Browns tight end Benjamin Watson can't stop committing penalties week after week. His false start gave the Browns a third-and-7 instead of a third-and-2. Wallace's pass over the middle was broken up, and the Browns had to punt with about 3:40 left. 6. The Browns' defense finally gave up a big play, running back Michael Turner's 55-yard run. Cleveland safety Abram Elam should have tackled Turner before he rumbled into the red zone. 7. Wow. The Falcons were on the brink of taking the lead, but rookie safety T.J. Ward blocked Bryant's 30-yard field-goal attempt. 8. In a rare occurrence, Thomas was beaten again by Abraham. This time, though, it resulted in disaster. Abraham sacked Wallace, and Wallace injured his right ankle during the play. He used his left leg to hop off the field. Quarterback Jake Delhomme who has been sidelined for the past three weeks with high right-ankle sprain entered the  game with 25 seconds left in the first half. The Browns held onto a one-point lead at halftime, but their quarterback situation is in question. On fourth-and-13 from the 50-yard line, the Browns were in position to throw a Hail Mary, but they chose not to take a chance. Is Delhomme ready to go?

End 3Q: Falcons 13, Browns 10 -- 1. Phil Dawson made a 19-yard field goal to give the Browns a 10-6 lead with 9:57 left in the third quarter. With his 234th successful field-goal attempt, Dawson tied Hall of Famer Lou Groza for the franchise record for made field goals. 2. Falcons wide receiver Roddy White caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Ryan. Bryant made the PAT to give the Falcons a 13-10 lead with 7:57 left in the third quarter.  Instant impressions -- 1. Cleveland's Titus Brown keeps lighting people up on kickoff coverage. Nice hit on the opening kickoff of the second half. 2. Linebacker Scott Fujita and Coleman provided a flashback from last week. Fujita rushed off left tackle, sacked Ryan and forced a fumble. Coleman recovered. 3. The Browns couldn't capitalize with a touchdown after that turnover. Delhomme fumbled a snap near the goal line. The Browns recovered the fumble, but they had to settle for Dawson's record-tying field goal. 4. Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown was shaken up after tackling Gonzalez. Two plays later, Brown was burned by Falcons wide receiver Roddy White on a 45-yard touchdown pass. Elite wide receivers continue to haunt the Browns on big plays. 5. Delhomme is clearly not close to 100 percent. He has been limping, and getting hit and taking sacks isn't helping. The offensive  line must step up in the fourth quarter.  6. Hillis is also playing hurt, so things don't look bright for the offense heading into the fourth quarter.

End 4Q: Falcons 20, Browns 10 -- 1. Falcons defensive end Kroy Biermann rushed toward Delhomme, tipped Delhomme's pass and made a diving interception. Biermann then got up and ran 31 yards for a touchdown. The PAT was good, giving the Falcons a 20-10 lead with 4:01 left in the fourth quarter. Instant impressions -- 1. On his first pass of the fourth quarter, Delhomme looked terribly impeded by his right ankle. He keeps getting worse. Should he be playing at this point? 2. Linebacker Eric Barton has been playing well. He tackled running back Jason Snelling for no gain on third-and-1 from Cleveland's 43-yard line. 3. Biermann's interception and return for a touchdown was spectacular. You're going to have a hard time finding a better play by a defensive lineman. 4. Delhomme gave a valiant effort, but he simply didn't have enough left to lead the Browns to a touchdown on their final drive. His second interception of the day ended Cleveland's chances of a comeback.

Pregame notes

Top storylines: 1. Seneca Wallace will be the Browns' starting quarterback for the fourth week in a row. Jake Delhomme (high right-ankle sprain) is active, but he's listed as the team's backup. 2. Browns running back Peyton Hillis has carried the offense the past two weeks, but he suffered a thigh injury this past week in practice. Can he continue to produce while playing hurt? 3. Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff, a Barberton native and former scout for the Browns, returns to Northeast Ohio to show off the team he has built during the past two years. 4. The Browns will face perhaps the best offense they have encountered so far this season. Can they contain quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receiver Roddy White and tight end Tony Gonzalez? 5. Browns kicker Phil Dawson needs to make one more field goal to tie Lou Groza's franchise record with 234 successful attempts.

Inactive players: Browns -- Colt McCoy (third quarterback), RB James Davis, OL Shawn Lauvao, OL John St. Clair, DL Derreck Robinson, DL Jayme Mitchell, TE Alex Smith and WR Carlton Mitchell. Falcons -- John Parker Wilson (third quarterback), WR Michael Jenkins, CB Dominque Franks, RB Gartell Johnson III, OL Garrett Reynolds, OL Mike Johnson, DL Lawrence Sidbury and DL Trey Lewis.

Lineup changes: Browns -- Seneca Wallace will start in place of Jake Delhomme at quarterback; Tony Pashos will start in place of John St. Clair at right offensive tackle. Falcons -- William Moore will start in place of Erik Coleman at safety.

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