Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns bounced back in a big way yesterday. Mayfield led the Browns to an exciting comeback win over the Cincinnati Bengals 37-34. Let’s dive right into the win.
Mayfield started this game heading into the ugly category in the first quarter. He was 0-5 and threw an interception on his very first pass of the game. On top of all that, star wideout Odell Beckham Jr. went down with a knee injury trying to tackle the corner after the interception. Every media outlet out there was ready to take it to Baker or already was as he looked awful. Then the rest of the game happened.
Starting in the second quarter, Mayfield took control of this game on offense. Mayfield would go 5/5 and a touchdown on the first drive in the second quarter. He would complete 21 passes in a row, throwing three more touchdowns before clocking the ball on the game’s last drive. All he would do after clocking the ball would launch a 24-yard touchdown to rookie wideout Donovan Peoples-Jones. Baker used the whole field and looked confident in his throws.
Chemistry means something. With OBJ going down, Rashard Higgins got his chance, and he took full advantage. Higgins caught six balls for 110 yards and had two huge catches at the end.
First, he caught a low ball from Baker and had the wherewithal to get out of bounds stopping the clock. He then went up high to haul in a 30-yard laser from Mayfield to set up the game-ending touchdown throw to Peoples-Jones. Earlier this year, Higgins was being scratched healthy but has persevered, staying positive and ready. It paid off big for him and the Browns in Cincy.
What more is there to say when it comes to Garrett? All he has done is to make game-changing plays all year. Garrett added another strip-sack to his total and two more overall. The Browns defense would be in big trouble if it weren’t for their all-world edge defender.
Per Pro Football Reference, Garrett now has 21 pressures, 13 quarterback hits, nine sacks, five tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles. Some players would like those numbers for a full season.
Harrison Bryant/Donovan Peoples-Jones
With Austin Hooper out because of an appendectomy, rookie tight end Harrison Bryant came up big. Bryant ended the day with four catches for 56 yards and two touchdowns. The fourth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic now has 12 catches and three touchdowns on the year.
Peoples-Jones was thrust into more playing time when OBJ went down and responded well. He ended the game with three catches for 56 yards and the game-winning touchdown. The former Michigan product showed some signs of the skills that made him a top recruit in college.
Joe Woods’s Defense
Ok, so not the entire defense. Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward showed up and made big plays. The rest of this defense was not good. You cannot let a rookie do to you what Joe Burrow did. It does not matter how advanced that rookie is.
Cincinnati came in with a quick-strike offense that moved the ball on mostly short passes from play one. The Browns never found an answer, and it looked as though they never tried.
Sitting on the couch and watching, it never looked as though any adjustment was made. That is on coach Woods, regardless of the personnel. At least try to adjust and take something away or disguise the secondary a bit. Woods did dial up some nice blitzes, but the middle of the defense was exposed again, and unless the pressure hit home, the Bengals won every matchup on the field.
Burrow’s line against the Browns’ secondary this season is 72/108 for 722 yards, six touchdowns, and one interception. He has also fumbled twice, but that falls more on an awful line than Burrow at this point. Woods and Stefanski must find a way to clean up this defense, or it could cost them as we close out the first half of the season against the Raiders and head down the home stretch.
Well, that says it all right there. Losing OBJ for the season hurts, period. The only way for Mayfield and him to grow and get better is on the field. The Browns will need all of their young wideouts to step it up and make some big plays. Landry slides to number one on the depth chart, and then it is every man for himself after that. Higgins and DPJ certainly made a case for themselves Sunday.
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