CLEVELAND — It looked as though it might be a moment to remember for the Browns and quarterback Brandon Weeden. But in the end, it was just another Sunday to forget for both of them.
Cleveland had Baltimore down, but the Browns couldn’t put the Ravens away, with an inconsistent Weeden playing a large part in his team’s 10th consecutive loss — 25-15 — to their AFC North Division rivals.
The rookie QB wasn’t terrible, completing 20 of 37 passes for 176 yards. But he tossed two interceptions, managed just a 44.4 rating and failed to lead his team on a single touchdown drive. Weeden, who said his injured groin was not a factor, made some quality throws, but not nearly enough to reverse the outcome.
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“Some good, some bad,” Weeden said of his overall performance. “I felt like I made a few plays at times. Obviously, I missed some throws I’d like to have back. That’s going to happen.
“I got in (rhythm) there for a while. When I started out, I wasn’t in rhythm. I missed a couple throws early that were kind of uncharacteristic, but I felt like I got in a rhythm in the second and third quarter. It didn’t start the way I wanted it to, and obviously, it didn’t finish the way I wanted it to.”
Weeden was 1-for-4 for 9 yards in the opening quarter, going 14-for-22 for 134 yards in the second and third. He capped the inconsistent day by completing 5 of 11 passes for 33 yards in the final quarter.
“I think Brandon is going to watch the film and see that there were some things he’d like to have back,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “He battled just like the rest of the guys, but I don’t think any position played enough throughout the game.”
The fourth quarter has been a problem for Weeden, who entered the game ranked 30th among NFL quarterbacks in final-quarter production. Nothing changed in Cleveland’s seventh loss in nine games, with Weeden misfiring on his biggest throw of the game at the end.
After veteran Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco marched his team 81 yards in 4:22 to score the go-ahead touchdown on a 19-yard pass to Torrey Smith, Weeden had a chance to lead a game-tying drive.
The Browns took possession with 4:26 left in the game and moved just 8 yards in three plays before they were faced with a fourth-and-2 situation deep in their own territory.
Weeden tried to hit wide receiver Greg Little on a slant route, but the ball sailed over the head of Little, who said he was open, but had two Baltimore defenders in the vicinity.
“I was trying to hit (Little) in the second window,” Weeden said. “I liked the matchup with Greg on the nickel (back). (Ravens strong safety Bernard) Pollard came down underneath it so I knew I couldn’t have the first one, so I tried to wait for the second window and just kind of put it up where he could go get it. He had inside leverage. It was just a little too high.”
Even when Weeden did throw a touchdown pass, it didn’t count. He connected with Josh Gordon on an 18-yard strike on Cleveland’s first possession of the fourth quarter, but it was nullified on an illegal formation penalty, as the Browns had to settle for Phil Dawson’s fifth field goal.
“Brandon did everything he could,” said fellow rookie, running back Trent Richardson, who eclipsed the 100-yard rushing plateau for the second straight week. “We can’t say that it was him not being composed or him not trusting his leg.”
Weeden and the Browns have experienced little success during the quarterback’s debut season, but he’s not jumping ship yet.
“We still have basically half the season left,” he said. “There’s still plenty to play for. You never know what’s going to happen in the division. You never know what’s going to happen across the league.
We take care of business and get better and find a way to win some games here late, you never know. That’s the approach you have to take.”