In their first game without Odell Beckham, the Cleveland Browns shined on both sides of the ball and came away with a huge victory.
After a week of distractions, the Cleveland Browns took the field on Sunday vs. the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals. Not only did the Browns pick up the win moving to 5-4 on the year, but they also dominated the game from start to finish in the first game without Odell Beckham Jr.
What was different about this game? Honestly, nothing on offense, but the defense played well. They gave up a lot of yards, but not a lot of points.
Baker Mayfield didn’t rock the world, he was 14-of-21 for 218 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. There were a few passes he missed, but in a couple of play-action situations with only one or two guys on routes, he was forced to just throw it away.
But even without the explosive OBJ, the Browns offense was more explosive than ever. A 60-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones, a 70-yard touchdown run from Nick Chubb, and five other plays that went for over 20 yards throughout the game.
Things don’t always make sense, but for some reason, Mayfield is a better quarterback, and the Browns are a better team without OBJ on the roster.
One group that did step up today, the defense. While they gave up 348 yards, they only gave up 16 points and got off the field a few times when it really mattered. The defense line made things tough for Joe Burrow all day, and the cornerbacks had great tight coverage.
I’ve been hard on Denzel Ward all year, but he played lights out today. Now, can he put together back-to-back performances and stay healthy. Production has never been the issue, but durability is the big question.
The big difference, three turnovers. Two great interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), and a fumble recovery. Remember, Burrow threw a third pick, but it was taken away by a very questionable pass interference call.
Game balls go to Chubb on offense who had 163 total yards and two touchdowns and Anthony Walker on defense who had a monster day with 14 tackles, one sack, and an additional tackle for loss.
The Browns now travel to New England to take on the Patriots in another extremely important game with a wild card contender.