The Cleveland Browns cruised past the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, beating the Bengals 35-20. The Browns offense was the star of the game, especially in the first half. Cincinnati had no answer for the Cleveland offense in the first half with no punts and four of the five offensive series ending with touchdowns. There were many reasons for the success of the offense, but one of the main reasons was the play of quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield had an excellent game, completing 19 of 26 passes for 258 yards and four touchdowns. Mayfield picked apart the Bengals defense, especially in the first half of the game. He was able to spread the wealth and get eight different players to catch a reception. It was one of the best games of his rookie season.
In today’s Browns film room, I will look at the top five plays Mayfield had on Sunday versus the Bengals. I will rank the plays and illustrate what transpired and how Mayfield affected the success of the play. So with that, let’s get to the film!
5. Q3 13:02 2nd-and-6- Mayfield to TE Darren Fells for a six-yard touchdown
This redzone play shows off the patience and field vision of Mayfield. The Browns line up in an offset I-formation with two receivers out wide and a tight end on the left end of the line. The ball is snapped and Mayfield immediately looks to his left where he looks at two routes. One is the fullback out of the backfield running an angle route. But, the two inside linebackers are in zone and settle right on top of the route, covering the fullback tightly. The other option was the running back who was running a swing route. However, Mayfield sees the corner on the left side of the field covering the left flat, making the back not available for a pass. With those options covered, Mayfield escapes out of the right side of the pocket. When he moves to the right, he sees tight end Darren Fells slipping free in the back of the endzone. Mayfield throws a touch pass to Fells over the defender underneath for a touchdown. The play showed off Mayfield’s patience, field vision and ability to go through his progressions.
4. Q1 11:38 2nd-and-7- Mayfield to RB Duke Johnson for 23 yards
This play shows off Mayfield’s ability to read the defense and his eyes. For the play, the Browns shift running back Duke Johnson to the left slot. The key routes are Johnson, who is running a deep corner route, wide receiver Breshad Perriman, who is running a streak route down the left sideline, and running back Dontrell Hilliard, who is running out to the left flat. Mayfield reads the defense and sees that the Bengals are in a zone defense with man coverage on Perriman and one deep safety over top. This makes Johnson a quality option, but Mayfield has to do a few things to make it work. When the ball is snapped, Mayfield looks to the left flat where Hilliard is running his route. With his eyes on the flat, the Bengals linebackers covering the intermediate zone drop lower to be in position to react on a throw to the flat. But, this opens the area behind the linebackers for Johnson to fill. Perriman’s streak route causes the safety to be able to bite on Johnson early. So, Mayfield quickly turns his attention to Johnson and fires a pass almost immediately when Johnson makes the break to the left. The pass is completed for a big gain. It was a great play call and execution by the Browns and Mayfield.
3. Q1 2:16 1st-and-10- Mayfield to WR Rashard Higgins for 24 yards
This play shows off Mayfield’s touch, vision and ability to throw under pressure and on the run. For the play, the Browns go with a shotgun formation with an empty backfield and five out wide. The Bengals go with man coverage on four of the five receivers with wide receiver Rashard Higgins in the right slot being the only one not covered in man coverage. The Bengals have zone coverage in the middle of the field by their two inside linebackers and a deep safety watching over top. The ball is snapped and Mayfield immediately looks at wide receiver Antonio Callaway on the left running a ten-yard stick route. But, the coverage is tight, giving Mayfield no throwing lane to get it to Callaway. While looking for options, Mayfield is pressured by rushers on both sides of the pocket, so he moves up in the pocket and out the front of the pocket where he continues to look for open options. When Mayfield scrambles, Higgins runs a scramble drill and darts behind the coverage to the left. Mayfield sees this and throws a perfect touch pass over two defenders to the open zone where Higgins was entering. The pass was perfect. Higgins did a great job in getting open for Mayfield and Mayfield showed off his ability to throw on the move and under pressure.
2. Q2 10:57 3rd-and-1- Mayfield to TE David Njoku for 24 yards
This play shows Mayfield’s attention to detail and his ability to do the little things. The Browns call a play action pass out of the I-formation. The success of the play is all on Mayfield and the run play fake. The Browns blocking scheme performed their duty like it was going to be a run play with a pulling guard and a lead blocker going to the right where run fake was going. But, Mayfield finishes off the fake perfectly. After he fakes the handoff to the running back, Mayfield hides the ball behind his back hip. He does this well, shielding it away from the eyes of the linebackers. The linebackers bit hard on the run play, thinking the back had the ball. This allowed tight end David Njoku to slip across the formation to the left where he is uncovered. Mayfield lifts the ball up and quickly fires the pass before the defense can recover, allowing Njoku to pick up a big gain after the catch. Mayfield didn’t treat the fake as unimportant. He knew it was important to do this detail and helped sell the play to make it successful. Mayfield doing the little things made this play.
1. Q2 12:50 3rd-and-11- Mayfield to WR Antonio Callaway for 21 yards
This is the top play of the game for Mayfield, in my opinion. The Browns are facing a long 3rd-and-11 situation. When the ball is snapped, the Bengals bring a blitzer up the middle of the formation. This blitzer is unblocked and has a free lane to Mayfield. So, Mayfield has to immediately scramble out of the pocket. He is able to elude the bltizer and to escape out the right side of the pocket. Rather than running for a gain, Mayfield keeps his eyes down field. He sees wide receiver Antonio Callaway running an out route to the right sideline. Callaway has a little separation, so Mayfield decides to fire it to the receiver. The pass is a laser to Callaway right on the sideline where only Callaway can get it. The catch is made with Callaway showing nice footwork to get his feet in. This play shows numerous things from Mayfield. It showed his strong pocket presence and movement, while also showing his arm talent and ability to throw under pressure and on the move. It was a remarkable pass in a situation where the Browns needed to get a first down.
Highlight of the Game
The highlight of the game versus the Cincinnati Bengals was Myles Garrett. Garrett has one tackle, one tackle for loss, one quarterback hit and one sack. But, the statistics don’t represent how impactful Garrett was. According to Pro Football Focus, the edge rusher had 12 quarterback pressures in the game. He was in the backfield all game and made the Bengals quarterbacks uncomfortable all game.
Lowlight of the Game
The lowlight of the game versus the Cincinnati Bengals was the second half. The Browns had 296 total yards in the first half, but only had 46 total yards in the second half. Cleveland was outscored 13-7 in the second half, too. The play calling became too conservative, especially on the offensive side of the ball.