When the Browns jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, there couldn’t have been many people writing off the chances of a Giants comeback.
Given past history, they probably would have bet on an Eli Manning winner in the fourth quarter. Thanks to three big mistakes by the Browns late in the second quarter, we don’t have to wait that long.
The Giants lead 27-17 after scoring 17 points in the final 2:52 of the half as the Browns sharp start faded in the face of a Brandon Weeden interception, Josh Cribbs fumble and Buster Skrine penalty. Weeden’s pick came on third-and-one from the Giants’ 25-yard line as he fired high and behind Josh Gordon in the face of pressure. Stevie Brown, playing in place of Kenny Phillips, picked it off, returned it into Cleveland territory and Ahmad Bradshaw ran the ball in two plays later.
Cribbs coughed the ball up on a Will Hill hit on the ensuing kickoff. Brown hurt his namesakes by recovering the fumble to put Manning and company in business again. A completion to Martellus Bennett set up Victor Cruz’s second touchdown of the game to put the Giants back on top.
It’s been a strong half for the Giants offense outside of Bradshaw’s fumble. They’ve rolled up 244 yards and scored on their last four possessions to grab the lead. Bradshaw’s rebounded well, giving the Giants 80 rushing yards on a rainy, gloomy day in Jersey. Then, after the Browns had to punt with 24 seconds left, Skrine was flagged for interfering with Rueben Randle (who has quieted critics of his readiness with five catches for 78 yards) to set up a Lawrence Tynes 40-yard field goal as time ran out on the half.
Weeden’s interception mars what’s been a strong half for him as well. He hit Josh Gordon, who was “covered” by linebacker Chase Blackburn, for a 62-yard touchdown and put the team in scoring position just before the pick on a nicely designed screen pass to Chris Ogbonnaya. He finished the half 8-of-13 for 161 yards and led the Browns to scores the first three times they had the ball. The pick was a killer momentum swing, though, and Weeden has to throw that ball away so his team can get some points out of the possession.
With the Browns offense moving the ball well — Trent Richardson has 89 total yards and is finding the candy he was invited to find — things may remain close in the second half. The Browns may have let their best shot at winning slip through their fingers, though.