With 1:55 remaining in the third quarter, the Cleveland Browns, already facing a 23-point deficit (and devastated hearts), have third and 12 from their own 18-yard line. Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel takes the snap and has a rare moment of serenity in a pocket that was defined by chaos. Manziel stepped into the pocket and targeted wide receiver Josh Gordon, who found a broken gap inside Paul Guenther's defensive zone. Gordon caught the football and spun around the defender to gain 32 yards on the play.
It wasn't just the longest play that Cincinnati's defense allowed on Sunday... it was 29.9 percent of Cleveland's entire offense and it was the only reception that cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick allowed (at least that's according to Pro Football Focus). It does appear that Cincinnati was playing zone with Kirkpatrick assigned an area underneath where the reception occurred -- eventually Kirkpatrick pedaled backwards into that area as Gordon caught the football. Either way, based on when it happened and the circumstances of where the game was at that moment, it was irrelevant.
With Terence Newman out and Adam Jones playing through last week's chest injury, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick played 37 snaps on Sunday (41 per Pro Football Focus). He only missed four defensive plays on Sunday and generated an opposing passer rating of 56.3.
Kirkpatrick's biggest moment (of the season) occurred with 11:30 remaining in the second quarter, when the third-year defensive back picked off Johnny Manziel's pass at Cleveland's 35-yard line. Kirkpatrick shadowed Andrew Hawkins off the line of scrimmage and trailed the receiver's crossing route.
"They pretty much were running boot out of the tight split, so I just kind of slow-played it," said Kirkpatrick after the game via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I knew he probably wouldn't have seen me, because most of the time we were just letting the safeties take it (on that play) and I didn't call the safety to take me off. I made a break on the ball."
Cincinnati brought four (aka, no blitz) as the quarterback took forever to get the football to Hawkins. Kirkpatrick jumped the route and returned the football to Cleveland's 33-yard line. It was his first interception of the season.
The turnover allowed Mike Nugent to convert a 44-yard field goal to expand Cincinnati's lead to 20 points by the 10:24 mark in the second quarter.
Kirkpatrick, stuck behind Leon Hall, Newman and Jones on the team's depth chart, he realizes that he has to apply patience.
"It's not like we're going against guys our age that's playing in front of us - those guys have earned their keep; those guys are great," he said via the Enquirer. "We just have to be patient and continue to learn the small details that those guys give us. It paid off in an interception today."