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3 things we learned about the Browns

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ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Rams’ blueprint for winning games came to life in the Edward Jones Dome Sunday.

St. Louis pulled away in the second half for a 24-6 victory over the Cleveland Browns behind running back Todd Gurley and a powerful defense.

Outrushing Cleveland 158-82, the Rams (3-3) also forced four turnovers and registered four sacks, eventually knocking out quarterback Josh McCown late in the fourth quarter with a right shoulder injury.

The Browns started nine of their 13 possessions at or inside their 20-yard line. St. Louis punter Johnny Hekker downed his first three attempts at the 8, 4 and 9, and playing a long field most of the day was too much for Cleveland to overcome.

“I think we played great,” free safety Rodney McLeod said. “Giving up six points, you can’t ask for much more than that.”

McLeod matched the Browns’ output with his first NFL touchdown, gobbling up a fumble by wide receiver Taylor Gabriel and scampering 17 yards with 11:59 left in the first quarter for the day’s first points.

Cleveland actually outgained St. Louis 364-308, but the Rams collected 17 points off turnovers.

“That’s a sure-fire formula for losing games in the NFL,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said.

St. Louis recorded seven quarterback hurries and flushed McCown on eight of his 32 passes.

McCown finished 26 of 32 for 270 yards, but lost two fumbles before departing late in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury that Pettine said would be further evaluated on Monday.

What we learned about the Browns:

1. Their offense met their match Sunday, and it consisted of the St. Louis front four and themselves. Holding the Rams’ defensive line out of the backfield was going to be tough in any case, but mix in four turnovers and 11 penalties, mostly on pre-snap fouls and holds, and that’s a recipe for losing. Few teams can win under those conditions, particularly this team.

2. Cleveland played a solid game on defense, except for giving up some killer big plays in the second half. It overcame Todd Gurley’s 48-yard run early in the third quarter, but coughed up a TD after pass plays of 20 and 41 yards on the next St. Louis possession, and gave up another TD after a 21-yard run in the fourth quarter. Give up big chunk yardage in the NFL and you will likely lose.

3. The Browns must do a better job of running the football over the last nine games. Their running backs combined for just 56 yards on 19 carries, a 2.9-yard average that won’t cut it against a good defense. Staying backed up against the chains contributed to the Rams’ pass rush that eventually knocked QB Josh McCown out late in the game.

Etc.:

–QB Josh McCown (shoulder) left Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter, and his status for next week’s home game with Arizona isn’t known. Coach Mike Pettine said he would know more about McCown’s status Monday. McCown hit 26 of 32 passes for 270 yards but lost two fumbles.

–WR Andrew Hawkins (concussion) left the game in the fourth quarter and it isn’t known if he’ll be able to play next week. Hawkins, who had two catches for 21 yards, will need to sail through concussion protocol before being cleared.

–TE Gary Barnidge (mouth) played the second half with stitches in his lip after losing a tooth just before the end of the first half. Barnidge finished with six catches for 101 yards, but didn’t notch a TD grab for the first time since a Week 2 win over Tennessee.


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