It feels good Cleveland Browns fans. Your beloved NFL franchise finally has a win on a Sunday and in the AFC North under head coach Hue Jackson. Despite the victory 12-9 in overtime over the Baltimore Ravens, there is still a lot of concerns in regards to this football team. There is also more reasons for optimism moving forward.
So what stood out in the week five battle along the lakefront? After taking a week off so I didn’t in trouble with my bosses for obscene writing and cursing on video, here is the week five edition of the Cleveland Browns, the good, bad and ugly.
Third overtime is the charm:
The Browns played their third overtime game in five weeks. After tallying a tie and a loss in the first two overtime games, the third overtime is the charm, a win. The three overtime games equal too Cleveland playing an extra half of football, five and a half games. Furthermore, it could take its toll later on in the season.
Cornerback Denzel Ward continues to make his case for defensive rookie of the year. His interception inside the five yard line took Ravens points off the board. In addition you can make the argument that the interception helped win the game despite it happening in the second quarter. Ward also blocked a Justin Tucker field goal to end the first half. Baltimore would have won the game if not for Ward’s block.
“Came off the edge,” Ward said. “He did not really get hands on me so I just tried to come off as fast as I could, and I got a hand on it.”
“He was everywhere,” Myles Garrett said. “He had a game just like he did in the first game of the season, where he was ball hawking and on top of guys at all times. We have seen this in practice, and we have seen his potential. Now, he is living up to his abilities.”
Not only did the former Ohio State Buckeye in the Browns secondary have a terrific game, so did the former Michigan Wolverine. Perhaps making the ‘wishy-washy’ comments about the Browns fans was a good thing for safety Jabrill Peppers. You could make the argument it was the best game Peppers played in a Browns uniform. Getting those comments off of his chest allowed him to just play football instead of thinking too much. Peppers finished with four tackles, three solo in addition to a pair of pass deflections. It is also nice to see Peppers hitting opposing players hard. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams expects that out of his players.
Speaking of of Williams, his defense played outstanding against their division rivals. It was quite a rebound performance following the disappointing game against the Oakland Raiders in week four. Two takeaways increase the their league leading total to 15 after five weeks. Keeping the Ravens out of the end zone is something to celebrate. Baltimore was one of the top scoring offenses entering Sunday’s game. In addition, Cleveland outplayed Baltimore’s defense which was number two in the NFL. The Browns have a legitimate chance to be a top five defense if they continue to play like they did on Sunday.
“Teams have struggled with our pressure,” Garrett said. “When they do, they start throwing different protections at us with people chipping on both sides or throwing us double teams, but you just have to be one step ahead.”
“There is zero question that we have a top-five defense in the league,” Baker Mayfield said. “They are holding people to very few points. You take out the exception of last week, and they are playing great ball.”
Speaking of Mayfield, he is now 2-0 in games he’s played at FirstEnergy Stadium. He is a winner in his first home start as the Browns quarterback. Baker did make one bad decision on the opening drive, a poor throw resulting in his only interception on day. Mayfield also got sacked five times. Other than that Mayfield was terrific in his first home start. 25 of 43 for 342-yards and a 19-yard touchdown pass to Rashard Higgins.
Mayfield had nothing but praise for rookie wide receiver Derrick Willies for stepping up after losing Higgins due to injury in the second half.
“Great mentality,” Mayfield said. “He is able to go in there and execute. He is a guy that I have seen play for a while. I have been able to trust him because of that. He is locked in. He is in there every morning getting the gameplan and just making sure that he is taking advantage of his opportunity.”
“It was a great feeling to be out there and make plays when the ball came my way,” Willies said. “It was awesome for me.”
Willies 39-yard reception on the game winning drive in overtime is the play of the game. Coming of a reverse that turned into a disaster, Cleveland was pinned deep in their own territory. The Willies’ catch and run resulted in much needed momentum late in overtime.
“The play broke down and Baker started scrambling,” Willies said. “I was open, he threw it to me and I was just looking to find some room to run. Baker’s scrambling is something special. If you can get open when he starts scrambling, he will probably get you the ball.”
Color Rush Uniforms:
It’s a shame the NFL limits how much a team can wear an alternate uniform in a season. The no fun league strikes again. The Browns are 2-0 in the color rush uniforms. A uniform change is expected to take place for the 2020 season. Perhaps the Browns should ask the league for this style of uniform be the permanent uniform starting in two years. All they do is win in them.
You can’t forget about the loyal fan base. The ‘dawg pound’ and the entire crowd at FirstEnergy Stadium did their part to spur their team to victory. So are the fans starting to believe that the franchise is turning the corner? It certainly appears that way.
For years now, FirstEnergy Stadium has been referred to as the ‘Factory of Sadness.’ In addition its been called the ‘Mistake on the Lake,’ and the dumpster fire. Well its time for a new nickname for the 20-year old home of the Browns, ‘The Bakery.’ Finally a name that screams positive vibes about the franchise. ‘The Bakery’ features the ‘Bake Show’ when it’s time to make the donuts. Let’s just hope the donuts refers to zeros in regards to points and victories going forward.
Double Digit Penalties:
Now its time to focus on something bad in Sunday’s game, penalties. Once again the officials had it out for the Browns. Ten penalties were called on the Browns. In contrast, the Ravens were only flagged four times.
I know what you are saying, why is the hero in the ugly category? Well let’s be honest, Greg Joseph’s game winning 37-yard field goal wasn’t pretty at all. It doesn’t have to be pretty going through the uprights as long as it’s pretty on the scoreboard and in the win column. Joseph did not have a great day overall. He missed an extra point in addition to a game winning field goal attempt in the final seconds of regulation.