On paper, the Cleveland Browns were a heavy underdog to the San Francisco 49ers, but luckily the game isn't played on paper, and the Browns were able to survive like the protagonist in a slasher film.
The Browns stole a narrow win over the previously unbeaten 49ers in a game that could heavily influence the rest of this season.
San Fran was getting bailed out by the announcers due to the multitude of injuries they suffered this week, but Cleveland came into this game without their former All-Pro quarterback, running back, and right guard, so spare me with the excuses.
Deshaun Watson missed his second game in a row with a shoulder injury. PJ Walker was named the starter, and it was not two and a half hours before the game started.
Walker just had to be a game manager, and though he had a couple of flaws in his game, he did what was needed in order for the Browns to secure a victory. Prior to the game, he called a former Browns legend Jacoby Brissett, who started the first 11 games of the 2022 season while Watson was serving his suspension, to get advice.
While the statistics weren't pretty, Walker did enough, finishing 18/34 for 192 yards and two picks. He made some big-time throws into traffic, and nearly cost the team the game with an errant throw late in the fourth quarter, but luckily for him, the pass that he shouldn't have ever thrown was incomplete.
Receiving corps helped Walker out
Of the 18 passes Walker completed, he was able to connect with seven different targets. Amari Cooper led the way with 108 yards on four catches, with a couple of razzle-dazzle plays.
On one catch, Cooper shook his defender out of his shoes with a beautiful stutter step move that led to a 58-yard reception. On another catch, Cooper skied up and pinpointed the ball at its highest point and got both feet inbounds for an impressive 26-yard catch.
He continues to prove why he is a No. 1 wide receiver on this team and around the league. It's just what he does and has done for the majority of his career.
Elijah Moore also had four catches but for only 19 yards. He was open a lot, but often times Walker missed the mark. David Njoku, who continues to show he is a superhero playing through burn injuries caught three passes for 24 yards and would have had a touchdown had it not been for a penalty.
Kevin Stefanski deserves a lot of credit for scheming guys open throughout the afternoon. Once Watson is able to return, you can expect this offense to hit another gear, especially if the receivers continue to get open.
The rushing attack led the way for the offense
It has been rough sailing for the Browns' rushing attack since losing Nick Chubb to a knee injury back in Week 2. Jerome Ford has struggled as the starter and Kareem Hunt hadn't yet found his legs.
That changed on Sunday against a tough 49ers defense that is typically good against the run. Cleveland was able to rush for 160 yards on 34 carries and help alleviate pressure from Walker.
Ford had one of his better games of the season, rushing for 84 yards on 17 carries. He had a couple of explosive runs late in the game when the Browns were marching down the field en route to the go-ahead field goal.
Kareem Hunt started to look like the Hunt of old, as he rushed 12 times for 47 yards, and a touchdown, while catching three passes for 24 yards. When he dashed into the endzone, the sun began to shine through the stadium as it had a rainy atmosphere prior to that.
Again, All-Pro right guard Joel Bitonio did not play, which makes this game even more impressive for Ford and Hunt. Speaking of offensive linemen, Jedrick Wills Jr., who many Browns fans are tired of, was aggressive and on a mission to spring his guys free. Shoutout to him.
Overall, this offense did enough to come out with a win to advance to 3-2 on the season. The game was ugly and downright weird throughout the game and there were more flags on the ground than teenagers at summer camp after Jason Vorhees returns.
It wasn't always pretty, but the rushing attack looked like the one we are accustomed to seeing from this team, and the receivers were constantly open. Once Watson returns, look out.
Overall Grade: B