ReFo: Browns @ Falcons, Week 12
The Browns and Falcons entered Sunday’s game having been in first place of their respective divisions within the last two weeks as they compete for playoff spots. Poor quarterback play by both teams and questionable time management highlighted the game as the Falcons took a last-minute lead only to squander it in the final seconds.
Cleveland’s win keeps pace with the rest of the AFC North as they stay in the playoff hunt. Meanwhile, a loss by the Saints on Monday Night Football would, incredibly, allow the 4-7 Falcons to stay atop the NFC South standings.
Here are a few performances that stood out on each team.
Cleveland Browns — Performances of Note
Josh Gordon, WR: +2.1 Receiving Grade
Breakdown: Gordon made quite the impact on the Browns’ passing game in his much-anticipated return from suspension. There were some obvious miscommunication issues between him and Brian Hoyer, which is understandable considering the limited amount of time the two have practiced together. Once they iron out those issues, it looks like Gordon will pick up where he left off last year.
Signature Stat: Gordon was targeted 15 times on just 34 routes run. He averaged 3.53 Yards Per Route Run, fifth-highest of the week among wide receivers.
Isaiah Crowell, HB: +1.3
Breakdown: Crowell was clearly the more effective rusher in the Cleveland backfield on Sunday. Crowell out-rushed teammate Terrance West by 25 yards on two fewer carries, and forced four missed tackles on his 12 attempts.
Signature Stat: Crowell averaged 11.1 yards per carry on runs outside the tackles, compared to two yards per carry between the tackles.
Nick McDonald, C: -3.9
Breakdown: It was another below average performance for Alex Mack’s replacement. He was decent in pass protection where he allowed just one hurry, but continues to struggle in the Browns’ zone-blocking scheme.
Signature Stat: With his fifth negative grade in as many games, McDonald now holds the lowest grade at his position this season despite playing fewer snaps than 30 other centers.
Atlanta Falcons — Performances of Note
Matt Ryan, QB: -3.6
Breakdown: Ryan was the better quarterback in this game, but that is not saying much given Hoyer’s performance. Ryan forced multiple throws throughout the game and seemed to have a poor pass for every good one he threw. Donte Whitner dropped a likely pick-six early in the game as Ryan should have had at least one more interception than the one that was caught.
Signature Play: (Q3 6:52) On 3rd-and-3, Ryan does a good job to avoid pressure by Paul Kruger, only to inexplicably scramble right back to Kruger for a drive-ending sack.
Desmond Trufant, CB: -0.2
Breakdown: Trufant had one of the best interceptions you will see this year, but the rest of his play did not necessarily hold up as well. He allowed six catches for 89 yards on the other 10 times he was targeted. Four receptions went for first downs, three of which came in the fourth quarter along with his defensive holding penalty.
Signature Play: With just under five minutes to go, Trufant makes a stellar interception by high-pointing a jump ball from Hoyer and getting both feet down in the back of the end zone to keep the Falcons within one score.
Robert McClain, CB: -3.6
Breakdown: It was a rough day all-around for McClain. He missed two tackles in run defense, one in coverage, and another when rushing the quarterback. All three receptions allowed went for first downs, and was beat a couple other times in coverage that resulted in incompletions due to either off-target throws or drops.
Signature Play: (Q2 4:36) McClain allows a short catch past the first down markers on 3rd-and-3, and then misses the tackle on Andrew Hawkins who picks up another 12 yards.
PFF Game Ball
Unsure of what to expect from Josh Gordon in his first game, he came out and immediately played to the level we saw from him for most of last season.
Follow Matt on twitter: @PFF_MattC