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Redskins vs. Browns, Week 15: Cleveland eliminated from playoff race

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The Cleveland Browns were knocked out of AFC playoff contention on Sunday after a 17-point loss to the Washington Redskins.

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Despite holding a 14-10 lead at half, the Cleveland Browns couldn't quite keep things together on Sunday in a frustrating loss to a Kirk Cousins-led Washington Redskins squad.

The Browns picked up a pair of touchdown runs from star rookie Trent Richardson in the opening 30 minutes, but a pair of costly third quarter interceptions by quarterback Brandon Weeden allowed the Redskins to shift the momentum. While Weeden did manage to toss a 69-yard touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin to give the team a glimmer of hope in the fourth, it was too little too late. As far as Chris Pokorny at SB Nation's Cleveland Browns blog Dawgs By Nature is concerned, Weeden's timing and comfort level simply weren't there in Week 15:

This is a hard loss to take, given the recent optimism for Browns fans. You almost wish you could chalk this up to just an "off day" for the Browns, just like the Giants and Buccaneers were completely dismantled by teams like the Falcons and Saints. Digging deeper, though, Weeden clearly never had it. He wasn't comfortable throwing against a poorly-ranked pass defense. Even when Cleveland had some opportunities in the second half, he threw two interceptions that gave all of the momentum to Washington.

Weeden's play was starting to visibly improve over his team's prior three-game winning streak, though Sunday's performance clearly represented a setback in his season. The 29-year-old rookie now has 3, 281 passing yards and 14 touchdown passes with a pair of games remaining, and may need to avoid further regression down the stretch to keep a strong hold on Cleveland's starting gig heading into 2013.