Brock Purdy suffered his first loss as a starter, and the Niners had their regular season winning streak halted at 15 when rookie kicker Jake Moody missed a 41-yard field goal with six seconds left on the clock, giving the Browns a shocking 19-17 victory on Sunday.
“I don’t think we deserved to win," said 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa. "We didn’t underestimate them, but they did play better than us. We haven’t lost in a long time in the regular season, so it hurts a lot more.”
Dustin Hopkins kicked four field goals for the Browns, the last of which he kicked with 1:40 left on the clock, on a drive that was aided by a suspect at best unnecessary roughness call against San Francisco. More stunning than that, Cleveland pulled off this upset without quarterback Deshaun Watson, but rather XFL legend P.J. Walker.
Gotta Tip Your Cap
The 49ers (5-1) came in looking nearly unbeatable after slaying Dallas 42-10 at home last week and scoring at least 30 points in each of their first five games. However, Cleveland’s No. 1 ranked defense presented more challenges than the Niners expected. The 49ers were short-handed in the second half without playmakers Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel, both ruled out with separate injuries.
P. J. Walker came off Cleveland's practice squad and did what his team needed for a win. Walker played better than Brock Purdy, who threw his first interception this season and finished with just 125 yards. Purdy almost pulled off a wild comeback in the final moments before Moody's failed kick.
The Streak is Over
The 23-year-old Purdy had been flawless in his pro career, winning his first 10 regular-season starts and coming in with the highest passer rating (121.1) in league history for any quarterback through 10 games. The Browns stellar defense kept him off balance, and he completed just 12 of 27 passes (44%). This is well below his league-leading average (72.1%) coming into last Sunday's game.
“I didn’t play at the standard that I needed to,” Purdy said. "We feel like we failed our own expectations. I just have to be better and make the throws. Man, it’s the NFL. When you get opportunities, you’ve got to take care of them. There are plays that we didn’t make.”
Even though Purdy was without McCaffrey and Samuel, he made a couple of big completions on the 49ers' final drive and positioned the ball in the middle of the field for Moody, who pushed his field goal attempt to the right. “It’s on me,” said Moody, who missed a 54-yard in the first half. "I’ve got to make these kicks in these situations. That’s what I signed up for at my position. The team fought really hard to give me a chance. "It was a perfect snap, perfect hold. I just didn’t hit it the way I wanted to.” When the ball sailed wide of the uprights, the Browns' sideline erupted, and Browns fans danced in the aisles after finally seeing the home team score a huge win.
'"The truth is, we’re a good football team," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. “We’re not perfect, we know that. But we fought like crazy, and I’m just proud of so many guys.” The 49ers were heavy favorites at the start of the week, and their odds only increased once the Browns ruled out Watson on Friday. Turning to Walker, who was only signed in August, the 28-year-old showed promise on Cleveland’s final drive. He possibly got away with a questionable throw into the end zone that would set up Hopkins for the winning field goal.
Another break for the Browns occurred with a roughness call on 49ers safety TaShaun Gipson Jr. On 3rd and 10, Walker's throw for Elijah Moore was high, but Gipson, a former Brown, was called for a personal foul for leading with his helmet. “My view was his intent wasn't at all to do that,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It looked like the receiver was coming in there, jumping, too. It looked like they touched helmets from where I was. It didn't look that violent.”
Purdy didn't look quite like himself during most of the game, and things got even worse for the second-year QB when Samuel went out with a shoulder injury, and McCaffrey couldn’t push through an oblique issue injury. Tension was evident throughout the entire game. Tempers flared during warmups with a small fight on the 49ers sideline. There was also a lot of trash talk, and San Francisco left tackle Trent Williams shoved Elijah Moore from the side, knocking his helmet off in the process.
Helped by two personal fouls against the Browns, the 49ers scored on their first possession with Purdy shoveling a quick pass to McCaffrey, who went in untouched for the score. The rest of the game did not go as planned. This will be a good lesson for the Niners. With a humbling loss to the Browns without Watson, I have no doubt the Niners will be scraping and clawing their way into February.
Final Score: Cleveland Browns 19, San Francisco 49ers 17
Next Week's Matchups:
San Francisco 49ers: @Minnesota (Monday Night Football)
Cleveland Browns: @Indianapolis (Sunday, October 24, 1:00 EST)
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