Browns: Two Games, Two Bad Halves, And a Season Defined?

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Nov 1, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) talks with Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) following their game at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Browns 34-20. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

First Of Two Games, Halves, And Losses

To say that the 2015 Browns are competitive would be a true statement. In all but the New York Jets loss (31-10) early in the season, and the St. Louis Rams loss two weeks ago (24-6), the Browns have found themselves with chances to win every game they’ve lost. Against the Oakland Raiders, the Browns lost 27-20 only after a fourth quarter comeback rally fell short.

McCown was intercepted by Raiders CB Charles Woodson on a drive that had the team moving down the field. In the San Diego Chargers game, McCown threw the ball for a 356 yards, RB Duke Johnson emerged as a pass catching threat with 85 yards on nine receptions, but a late offsides penalty by CB Tramon Williams gave San Diego a second try at a missed field goal attempt and the Chargers escaped with a 30-27 win.

Then came this past Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals and Thursday Night’s game against the Bengals. Two games defined by great first half efforts, only to be squandered in the second half.

In Sunday’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals, the Browns mounted a commanding 20-10 lead going into halftime. For a game not many picked the Browns to win, it looked like Browns HC Mike Pettine had rallied the troops, came up with a great gameplan to contain Cardinals RB Chris Johnson, and stifle QB Carson Palmer as his passes were sailing high over his wide receivers.

For the Browns, McCown had three, yes three touchdowns before halftime, and the only blunder came right before the half as kicker Travis Coons missed the extra point.

It seemed like Browns fans were in for a treat, a rout, and a potential season altering win. Then like a linebacker breaking through the offensive line unblocked, came the second half.

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians challenged his players at halftime saying “We’re either pretenders or contenders. And it’s up to you to show who you are in the second half,” according to WR Larry Fitzgerald. His players responded to his challenge, and the Cardinals came out of halftime a whole new team.

Gone were the overthrown passes, back were the long completions, the running game, and not soon after halftime the Browns lead was gone. A 20-10 lead at halftime quickly turned to a 34-20 loss.

What Pettine said to his players at halftime isn’t as well-known, but apparently it wasn’t as motivating as Arians’ speech. His team came out flat after halftime and for every positive thing that happened before halftime, it was negated after halftime.

Next: Second Of Two Games, Halves, And Losses