Cleveland Browns defensive line grade: A
Obviously, this positional room starts and ends with Myles Garrett. The All-Pro edge rusher made his presence felt on several occasions against the AFC North rival. Garrett finished with 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hits, and a tackle for loss.
But Garrett wasn't alone in the constant pursuit of Lamar Jackson on Sunday. Za’Darius Smith was bringing constant pressure on his ex-teammate. At times Smith looked to be possessed in pursuit of Jackson. Smith finished the game with half a sack, four total tackles, and two quarterback hits.
Ogbo Okoronkwo was not able to notch a sack, but he was the catalyst for the Browns biggest defensive play of that afternoon. The Browns had just pulled to within one score and the defense needed to get a stop. They did one better.
On second down, Okoronkwo couldn’t get home on Jackson, so he did the next best thing…he disrupted the passing lane. Okoronkwo pushed the pocket and was able to elevate and deflect Jackson’s pass attempt into the air, and it landed in Greg Newsome’s hands. Newsome did the rest, but that play does not happen without Okoronkwo’s displaying elite situational awareness.
Okoronkwo’s play personified one of the most impressive attributes the Browns edge rushers displayed on Sunday…. patience. When playing a dynamic escape artist like Lamar Jackson, the most important thing a pass rusher can do is remain patient. Jackson is perhaps the best quarterback the league has ever seen at using a pass rusher’s aggressiveness against them. The Browns defensive line was well aware of the assignment, and they aced the test.