CLEVELAND (AP) — Myles Garrett’s car crash sparked another week of distraction for the Browns, leading to a familiar upset finish Sunday.

They are their own worst enemy.

Cleveland’s inability to score in the red zone and a costly defensive breakdown — a problem in the first two games — with Garrett and two other starters out of the unit contributed to a 23-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Also, there were some questionable decisions made by coach Kevin Stefanski, who was maestro with his call to get the Browns to the edge of the goal line before dropping the baton.

Cleveland drove to Atlanta’s 2-yard line twice in the first half, but scored only three points. To make matters worse, the Browns played 11 times to Atlanta’s 11 before halftime and gained 3 yards.

On Monday, Stefanski offered a little insight into his reasoning behind some of his red-zone calls — he was called first, second and third for not making a field goal on the start of a botched 4th-and-3 — but do not abdicate responsibility.

“We have a lot of coaches up there. In all these decisions, I make the decision 100 percent,” he said. “I get input from our coaches and from our staff in the booth and on the sideline, and ultimately you have to own it.

“If they don’t work, you’re disappointed, but that’s my decision.”

On the defensive end, it hurt to be without Garrett, Cleveland’s All-Pro linebacker, after his car accident a week ago. Garrett is recovering from injuries to his left shoulder and right bicep, as well as the emotional impact of the close call for him and a female passenger.

It is not known when he will return.

Minus Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, who missed his second straight game with an ankle injury, Cleveland didn’t get enough pressure on Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota and had trouble establishing an edge to stop running plays.

However, the game was tied at 20 in the fourth quarter when the Browns left Falcons receiver Olamide Zacchaeus wide open for a 42-yard reception that set up Atlanta for a field goal with 2:28 left.

Stefanski blamed the error on a “technique” problem.

It’s the little mistakes that cost Cleveland so much.

The Browns (2-2) reached the unofficial quarterfinals of the season as a .500 team. That’s not bad, as they wait for quarterback Deshaun Watson to return from an 11-game suspension for alleged sexual misconduct. But it could have been better considering this was supposed to be the easiest part of the schedule.

In Week 2, the Browns blew a 13-point lead in the final 1:55 in a heartbreaking loss to the New York Jets. On Sunday, similar fevers came back to bite them – and could come back to haunt them later.

“It’s never good when we beat ourselves as a team,” said tight end David Nyoku, who had a costly first-quarter layup. “We’ll just go back to the drawing board and get back to work and fix the mistakes.

“I feel like our mistakes on both sides of the ball, it’s inches. There is very little margin for error in the NFL. I feel like we’re here.”


Nick Chubb had another strong game during his homecoming for Georgia. He rushed for 118 yards, averaged 6.2 yards per carry and scored on a 28-yarder to shock his family, friends and his hometown high school football team.

Chubb leads the AFC with 459 yards.


In the second half, Atlanta ran the ball down Cleveland’s throat and finished with 202 yards rushing — doing to the Browns what they usually do to opponents.

On the positive side, some of the young defensemen have gained valuable experience that will help if Garrett and Clowney are out for extended periods of time.


Donovan Peoples-Jones caught a season-high five passes for 71 yards. Peeples-Jones battled the sun and the quarterback on a beautiful 42-yard pass from Jacoby Brissett.


Amari Cooper was blocked by the Falcons, who paid special attention to Cleveland’s No. 1 receiver. Cooper was held to one catch on four targets for 9 yards.


Garrett’s sprained left shoulder could bother him for several more weeks. Stefanski said he’ll get a better feel for Garrett’s status on Wednesday.

The Browns also did not start defensive end Taven Bryan because of a hamstring injury. Stefanski had no update on rookie Jerome Ford, who suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter and did not return.


25: Career 100-yard rushing game in four-plus seasons for Chubb. Only Hall of Famers Leroy Kelly (27) and Jim Brown (58) have more in Cleveland history.


Another tough test for the defense at home against Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers, who won the series 47-42 against the Browns last year.