The opponent is irrelevant as the outcome is the only thing that matters, and the Cleveland Browns dominated the lowly Arizona Cardinals 27-0, giving the team a shutout for the first time since 2008.
Before this piece moves further, the defense gets an A++++ for their efforts against the Cardinals. That should go without question if you watched this unit perform on Sunday afternoon.
A week prior, the defensive side folded in the game's waning moments against Seattle. This clearly did not sit well with anyone, so the defense decided to have an all-time performance.
Not only did Cleveland shut out Arizona, but they only surrendered 58 yards of offense. To put that into perspective, the Cardinals ran 48 offensive plays and could only come up with 58 yards, which is 1.2 yards per play. Amari Cooper had 139 yards on just five receptions.
Rookie quarterback Clayton Tune made his first-career NFL start after being taken one pick ahead of Browns' rookie QB, Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Tune wishes the tune would have changed in this matchup.
The defensive line absolutely feasted on the rook, combining for seven sacks, led by offseason acquisition, Dalvin Tomlinson who had 2.5, one of which was a strip-sack recovered by Myles Garrett. Tomlinson also finished with four tackles, two for a loss.
Joining Tomlinson on the sack brigade were Garrett, Shelby Harris, Za'Darius Smith, Jordan Elliott, and Grant Delpit, who was credited with the other half-sack with Tomlinson. Speaking of Mr. Delpit, he finished with a team-leading 10 tackles, eight of which were of the solo variety.
The strip sack by Tomlinson was one of three turnovers forced by the Cleveland defense. The other two came via interceptions with Sione Takitaki coming up with one, and Denzel Ward making one hell of a catch for the other.
The Browns secondary was yet again shining bright as they had eight pass deflections. It's a pick-your-poison with Ward on one side and Martin Emerson on the other. And that doesn't even highlight the rest of the secondary who helps keep this defense energized.
The eight deflections and 11 tackles for loss were already insane stats, but here is another one for you; Arizona did not run a single play inside the Cleveland 40-yard line. That is not a common feat in the NFL.
After the game, Cardinals' head coach Jonathan Gannon said, " We couldn't run the ball, we couldn't protect, we couldn't throw it." That is quite the statement when you think of what this Browns defense truly accomplished.
Regardless of who the team or quarterback was, this past Sunday's defensive performance is one for the ages and will likely never be duplicated.
The team, more so the defense, rebounded well after the stunning loss to the Seahawks in Week 8 and handled business. Now, it's onto Baltimore.