CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – The Titans would probably prefer to not remember the time they played the Browns Sunday afternoon.
Myles Garrett had 3.5 sacks and Deshaun Watson threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns while Jerome Ford scored twice in the Browns dominating 27-3 win over Tennessee Sunday.
Here’s our top Brownie Bites after the Browns trashed the Titans by the lake.
This game had everything. Watson tripped over Ford on the first play. Watson later threw a ball 16 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The Titans at one point had more points than yards. The officials erroneously called Amari Cooper out of bounds and prematurely blew the play dead which cost the Browns a touchdown and affected the margin of victory. And Myles Garrett treated Ryan Tannehill like a rag doll to push the Browns to 2-1.
Watson started to look like the player the Browns expected to get for six picks and $230 million on Sunday. “He'll do whatever it takes to win,” Stefanski said. “We knew that this was going to be a game where we felt confident in spreading the ball around to different guys. I thought he took completions, obviously took the shots when they were there, made plays with his feet. So I thought he was outstanding today.” Following six days of scathing criticism from the media, Watson responded with a mostly brilliant performance. He threw a beautiful 19-yard touchdown pass to Ford in the second quarter and 43-yard TD to Cooper in the fourth. He shook off pressure from Tennessee to complete 27-of-33 passes for 289 yards with two touchdowns and a rating of 123.4 while also rushing for 16 yards on four carries. “It comes with the territory, but to much is given, much is required,” Watson said of the criticism that followed Monday night’s 26-22 loss to the Steelers. “I’ve always lived by that on and off the field, and being able to come out here, I knew the fans were going to come and support us. That’s what the Cleveland Browns are. All the stuff that’s online and outside noise, that stuff is minimal compared to what is really the foundation of this organization, for this city, for this town, especially for this team.” Watson tripped over Ford on the opening snap and later inexplicably threw the ball 16 yards behind the line that Ford thankfully was there to cover up in the first quarter. “We practiced that. He was supposed to,” Stefanski said. When you win, you can laugh at and shrug off those mistakes. “It was actually a play that we worked on,” Watson said. “Just try to get the defense to go to one side and D-lineman try to break off and then at the last second, pitch it back. It just didn’t go our way.” For Watson it came down to controlling his emotions. Monday night he was unable to but Sunday he relaxed and just let it rip. “I just let everything just come to me,” Watson said. “Don’t try to press the issue, don’t try to force the issue. Just control my emotions, my energy, and really just channel that. Just cherish each and every moment, cherish each and every play and just have fun doing it. This game is so hard. It’s a blessing to be in the shoes that I’m in. It’s a blessing to be on that field. So enjoy the moment, don’t get caught up in all the extra stuff and just go out there, have fun and execute.”
Garrett beat Tannehill to a pulp Sunday afternoon. “Teams come in here and they say, don't let 95 wreck the game,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said. “And he continues to do it.” Garrett’s strip sack of Tannehill ended the first quarter, and he sacked the Titans QB to end the first half to prevent Tennessee from heading into the locker room with more than just three points. “I wanted to force the ball out on that last one,” Garrett said. “I was reaching for it, but he bobbled a little bit and kept it. But at the end of the day, got them off the field without any points and that's what really feels good.” Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah should’ve scooped up the strip sack and ran it the other way, but he wasn’t aggressive which allowed Derrick Henry to fall on the ball to preserve the possession. Garrett almost had Tannehill for a safety early in the fourth quarter. “The moves I felt were really going to work didn't work and then some of the moves I'm just like, oh to hell with it, I'm just going to burn them off the edge, and those worked,” Garrett said. “I was like, sometimes you've just got to keep on attacking.” When the dust settled: 3.5 sacks, five QB hits, three tackles for loss and a forced fumble for Garrett. “He’s the best player in the world,” Watson said.
It was another defensive virtuoso for Jim Schwartz’s bunch. “I mean our defense is playing lights out,” Stefanski said. The only time Tennessee had a chance to score came after Elijah Moore’s fumble late in the first quarter. Garrett ended the second threat before halftime. “At the end of the half there, they don't come away with any points, was incredible,” Stefanski said. “Our defense, you run out of things to say, stopping the run, playing great in the pass game, hitting the quarterback.” The Titans lost 9 yards and kicked a 44-yard field goal for their only points of the afternoon. Tennessee was held to 94 total yards of offense and just six first downs. “It says we have the opportunity to be special, but you got to keep on earning it, keep on putting it out on paper, doing it on the field day in and day out It doesn't just happen on Sundays,” Garrett said. “It happens throughout the week, how you prepare, how you work day in and day out, how you take care of your body, those things, those all equate to what happens on Sunday and guys are really keyed in to getting the most out of each other.” The Browns, who haven’t allowed a point in the red zone this season, limited Tennessee to 2-for-12 on third down and opponents are 8-of-41 through three games. Cleveland racked up five sacks, eight QB hits, nine tackles for loss, four pass breakups, and a forced fumble. “Guys were just committed to continue attacking and that really made the difference because we just kept on wearing 'em, wearing 'em down and we were able to keep on getting consistent pressure, especially in the second half,” Garrett said.
Cooper, who got robbed of one score when an official said he stepped out of bounds, finished with seven catches for 116 yards and drew three defensive penalties. “I mean, it happens. What are you going to do,” Stefanski said of the blown call. “I thought Amari was unbelievable today. Drawing penalties, one on one was difficult matchup for them. We know what type of player he is. He played really well.” Instead of a 65-yard Cooper touchdown, the Browns went on to kick a 52-yard field goal. Luckily the blowen call wasn’t costly when it came to the outcome. “Coach Kev said that the ref came and apologized,” Cooper said. “It was just weird because in those situations I think he should kind of let it play out first, especially if I was clearly in. That means that if he thought I was out, I should have been barely out. You see what I'm saying? So I think he should have just let it keep going.” Cooper got frustrated on the next play after being interfered with but no call on another deep route before finally getting in the end zone on the strike from Watson from 43 yards away that ended all doubt with just under seven minutes to play. “It felt great because I feel like I should have had a couple [touchdowns],” Cooper said. “I really should have had a couple, so it just wouldn't have felt right to leave the game without scoring a touchdown when I had so many opportunities.”
Ford didn’t put up huge numbers Sunday in place of Nick Chubb, but he scored points. The 2022 fifth rounder hauled in Watson’s first touchdown of the afternoon in the second quarter, then dove for the pylon on a three-yard run in the third quarter that gave the Browns a commanding 20-3 lead. The run game as a whole saw seven players carry the ball and Cleveland out-rush the Titans.
Kareem Hunt had the equipment staff whip up a Nick Chubb No. 24 t-shirt for him to wear under his uniform after wearing a No. 24 shirzy into the stadium. “We did it for him,” Hunt said. “Nick is a brother. Everybody wanted to win this for him, too, and we definitely miss him out there, the person and the teammate, the player he is. But we got to keep finding a way to win games.” Hunt ran five times for 13 yards and caught two passes for 22 yards, including the return of his patented hurdle to convert a third-and-long. “I knew we had to get a first down so I was trying to find a way,” Hunt said, “and the guy happened to dive low, because I wanted to start running actually, but it was seeing the first down, just jump, instincts pretty much.”
Tight end Harrison Bryant is the new Jacoby Brissett. Bryant handled two sneaks on third-and-short to convert.
Kicker Dustin Hopkins sliced right down the middle from 48 for a 3-0 lead midway through the opening quarter. He was perfect from 52 into the Dawg Pound too.
Former Cav Daniel “Boobie” Gipson was the Dawg Pound captain/guitar smasher for kickoff. Safety Grant Delpit served as the game captain for the coin toss.