Another win versus a NFC West team was not in the cards for the Cleveland Browns, as they were defeated by the Seattle Seahawks.
Dec 20, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Bryce Brown (36) is tackled by Cleveland Browns defensive lineman John Hughes III (93) during a game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Rapid Reaction: First Half
Say what you will about the talent of offense, but Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has been calling a pretty good set of games with Johnny Manziel as the quarterback. With a mobile quarterback like Manziel, the offense has been far more dynamic and has shown a broader playbook than earlier in the year with Josh McCown.
The type of misdirection and motion plays we saw in the first half helped compensate for the lack of talent on offense. When wide receivers Terrelle Pryor and Dwayne Bowe are seeing a lot of snaps, you have to get creative to get the ball in the end zone.
Browns head coach Mike Pettine spoke a little too soon about Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. Anyone watching the first half saw that Wilson is a complete NFL quarterback and is capable of carrying an offense. On the most run heavy team in the league, Wilson was down to his numbers five and six running backs. Derrick Coleman, a fullback by trade, started the game as the lead back.
All Wilson did was use his vision and arm strength to throw for two touchdowns and led another drive for a field goal. Seattle did not punt in the first half. 12/17 for 137 yards doesn’t scream “elite quarterback”, but role the tape and you’ll see it. 17 points in three drives is pretty darn good.
A player from each team hit a major milestone. Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin caught his 13th touchdown of the year to set a Seahawks single season record, while Gary Barnidge’s first quarter score tied him with Ozzie Newsome for the most by a tight end in Browns history.
It will be important to watch how guard Cameron Erving responds after being benched for offensive lineman Austin Pasztor. He entered the game on the third play of the day when right guard John Greco went down with a knee injury.
Speaking of the Seahawks backfield, you would never have guessed that the unit was decimated by injuries. The carries were split up between Coleman, Wilson, and running backs Christine Michael and Bryce Brown. Those four players combined to carry the ball 18 times for 85 yards, a 4.7 average per carry.
The only thing more frustrating than deep reserve running backs carving up a defense was Browns cornerback Tramon Williams‘ facemask penalty. That penalty set up the second Seattle field goal at the end of the half to make the score 20-10.
Next: Rapid Reaction: Second Half