Monday Night Football on ESPN featured two rookie head coaches squaring off in their second preseason game. Jay Gruden’s Washington Redskins matched up against Mike Pettine’s Cleveland Browns at Fed Ex Field Monday night. It was an ugly game featuring a boat load of penalties for both teams as well as six turnovers. The big storyline was the Browns’ quarterback situation and the nation received their first taste of “Manziel Mania”.
Brian Hoyer started the game but Manziel recieved just as many reps with the first team as Hoyer. Neither quarterback looked sharp; in fact the Browns offense looked stagnant and unable to move the ball all game. Credit goes to the Washington defense that looked tough every snap. Defensive end Ryan Kerrigan finished the first play from scrimmage with a sack on Hoyer. He added another sack on the Browns’ next drive. Washington was forcing three and outs all night and the first team defense only allowed 84 yds in the first half.
Robert Griffin III wished his offense would’ve had the same success as the defense. Unfortunately, the first team offense underachieved throughout the game. On the first drive, after two nice passes from Griffin, Alfred Morris fumbles his first touch of the game and Cleveland recovers. On the next drive, Griffin tried to throw an out route to DeSean Jackson but the highest paid cornerback in the league, Joe Haden, stepped in front of the weak throw to intercept the pass. To make things worse, the Redskins had a first and goal situation but handed the ball off to Morris on four straight plays. The four runs up the middle resulted in a Cleveland goal line stand.
The game was a defensive struggle all night and it wasn’t until the second teamers came in that there was a touchdown scored. Evan Royster was able to score a two yard run in the closing seconds of the first half to give the Redskins a 7-3 halftime lead.
Kirk Cousins looked good coming in for Griffin, even though he threw an interception of his own before the first half ended. Cousins came out with a vengeance in the second half to make up for his mistake. He went 5 for 5 on the first drive of the third quarter and capped it off with a 14 yard touchdown pass to rookie Ryan Grant out of Tulane.
The Redskins had a 14-3 lead to start the fourth quarter until Manziel gave the Browns their first touchdown with an 8 yard pass to Dion Lewis. Third string QB Colt McCoy came in for the Redskins, only to throw a ‘pick 6’ on his third pass to Jim Leonhard. The interception return for a touchdown swung the lead in the Browns favor at 17-14.
McCoy had a short memory and came out on the following drive with a 43 yard pass on his next throw. The big pass play put the Redskins in field goal range and Kai Forbath converted to tie the game at 17. McCoy came back on his next drive to throw a 30 yard touchdown pass to Nick Williams.
The touchdown should’ve been the game winning score but Cleveland’s fourth string QB Connor Shaw had other plans. He threw a hail mary touchdown as time expired to give the Browns a chance at victory. Cleveland went for the two-point conversion and the win but they were unsuccessful. The Washington Redskins came out of the preseason battle with a 24-23 victory. The big question remains, who will start for the Browns week one? Hoyer or Manziel. Mike Pettine still has a tough decision to make since nether quarterback shined on the national stage of Monday Night Football.