The Cleveland Browns beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 26-18, to sweep the season series with their interstate rival. The Browns’ victory on Sunday was almost a carbon copy of the first game between these two teams. The Browns dominated the game, but the game grew closer than it should have after the Browns let off the gas in the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, Cleveland controlled the game and took home the victory.
The Browns made a lot of great plays versus the Bengals on Sunday, especially on offense. Quarterback Baker Mayfield led the offense to an offensive explosion, totaling 493 total yards. The Browns offense was able to do almost anything they wanted for much of the game.
In this week’s Browns film room, we will take a look at the top five offensive plays of the game for the Browns offense. We will count down the five offensive plays that were not only great plays, but also the most impactful plays in the game. I also threw in an extra play that may not have been a big play in terms of the game result, but it was an excellent play by the players involved. So with that, let’s roll the tape.
5. Q2 3:09 1st-and-10: Nick Chubb runs for 20 yards
This play was late in the second quarter and it helped jump-start a final drive at the end of the half, leading to a field goal. The Browns got the perfect look for this Nick Chubb run play to the left. Cleveland had a tight end lined up on left end of the line with two receivers bunched to the left of the tight end. The Bengals defensive line contributed to the success of this play. Before the snap, the defensive end on the left side moved outside to take a wide position on the line, leaving a gapping hole inside of him. Behind the line on the left side, the Bengals had just three secondary players with no linebackers to come fill in the hole aggressively. The three defenders were hesitant to attack the line. The Browns left side of the offensive line did their job of walling off the inside of the hole. Tight end Darren Fells did an excellent job to take care of the left defensive end and keep him outside. This left the three secondary players to make a stop on this run play. But, the two receivers were able to get down field and block, walling off two defenders from Chubb. Chubb takes the handoff and as he turns to enter the hole, he avoids a penetrating defender in the backfield. Once in the hole, Chubb follows his blocking well, cutting to the right to avoid the unblocked secondary defender. He is able to gallop down the field for a big gain because of good blocking, his vision and his athleticism.
4. Q2 7:18 2nd-and-1: Baker Mayfield to Darren Fells for one-yard touchdown
This play was an important touchdown, but the play by Baker Mayfield is what makes this just a great play. The Browns line up in an I-formation with two tight ends on the left end of the line and a tight end on the right end of the line. The Browns call a play action roll out with really just one option on the play, tight end Darren Fells. Fells breaks off his block attempt and rolls to the right sideline as Mayfield rolls out to the right sideline. At first, the linebacker underneath is in the passing lane for Mayfield to let it go. So, Mayfield has to continue to roll to the right. But, the linebacker covering Fells gets closer to him, leaving a small window to complete the pass. Mayfield waits until he is outside the edge defender and Fells gets into a sort of a box out position against the linebacker defending him. When these two things happen, Mayfield fires an absolute pinpoint dart to the outside of Fells, where only Fells could catch it. The tight end makes a great catch, bringing in the almost perfect pass from Mayfield. The play of Mayfield and Fells made this play successful.
3. Q2 8:45 1st-and-10: Jarvis Landry to Breshad Perriman for 63 yards
This exciting play set up the Browns’ second touchdown of the game. The play design has a familiar wrinkle that the Browns have used before and with success. It starts with a fake handoff to the motioning receiver and then a handoff to the receiver following right behind that other receiver that just crossed the formation. But, rather than that receiver taking the ball and running with it like the previous times the Browns ran this design, the receiver tosses the ball to wide receiver Jarvis Landry who is coming back to the left to get the ball. Landry might have had an open target on the left sideline, but Landry decides to go with wide receiver Breshad Perriman on the right sideline. Perriman was the first motioning receiver in the play. After he faked a handoff, he shot around the right edge and headed down field. Perriman was guarded one-on-one with just a deep safety over the top. Perriman got behind his man coverage and with the motion of the play moving to the left, the deep safety shaded a little too far to the left, leaving Perriman open for a pass. Landry fires a perfect pass that hit Perriman in stride before the safety could get over to him and before the corner could recover on Perriman. It was a beautiful pass by Landry.
2. Q3 4:59 3rd-and-4: Baker Mayfield to Rashard Higgins for 17-yard touchdown
This was a big play in the third quarter. The Browns were facing another possible missed opportunity to get a touchdown with this third down play. The Browns need to get a touchdown to extend the lead and to take real command of the game. Cleveland comes out in a shotgun with the key part being the three-man bunch set on the left side of the field. The play is pretty much a pick play. Wide receiver Rashard Higgins, the receiver furthest to left in the set, is set to come underneath the two pass catchers to the inside of him. Those two players head up field at the snap and just create traffic for the defenders to have to get through to get to Higgins. The off coverage by the Bengals was a perfect defense to exploit using this play. The two Browns pass catchers were able to get up field quite a bit and wall off the Bengals secondary defenders. The Bengals also blitzed their linebacker in the middle of the field, leaving it wide open. Mayfield sees that and hesitates just a bit more to let Higgins get inside to the middle of the field. The hesitation not only allows Higgins to get to the middle of the field, but also to help the two pass catchers get further up field to create the wall. Higgins catches the pass and uses his speed to get around the right edge of the secondary, diving into the endzone for a big touchdown.
1. Q4 2:01 2nd-and-4: Baker Mayfield to David Njoku for 66 yards
This was the clinching play for the Browns. Cleveland needed a first down and run the clock out to get the victory. This play did that. Two players, Baker Mayfield and David Njoku, make this play successful. When the ball is snapped, Browns left tackle Greg Robinson is confused by the blitz attack on the left edge, causing him to allow a free rusher to run free into the backfield. This causes Mayfield to have to escape out the right side of the pocket. Mayfield is able to escape and as he is running to the right, he sees tight end David Njoku sitting down in a stick route. As he is moving to the right, he fires a rocket to Njoku. He places the pass slightly inside to avoid the crashing defender from getting a hand on the ball. It is a perfect pass on the run. Njoku catches the contested pass and is able to withstand the contact to continue up field for more yards after the catch. Njoku is able to make a defender miss, leading to the tight end getting into the open field for a huge game-clinching play.
Q4 8:12 3rd-and-19: Baker Mayfield to Jarvis Landry for 14 yards
This is just an awesome play by Mayfield. In the beginning of the play, there are no open options for Mayfield to throw it, as the Bengals show tight coverage. After a few seconds, Mayfield feels pressure and has to escape out the left side of the pocket. He starts to head toward the left sideline when he sees wide receiver Jarvis Landry heading to the sideline with a little separation. Mayfield flings the pass, while he is still moving to the left. But, he somehow fires a perfect pass to Landry. He fits it low and to the sideline where the closing defender cannot reach it. It is was a crazy difficult pass that ended up as a perfect pass. It still ended up being fourth down, but that does not take away from the great play by Mayfield.
The highlight of the game versus the Cincinnati Bengals was wide receiver Rashard Higgins. Higgins had six catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. He was the second most targeted player for the Browns, receiving seven targets on the day. His could have been even bigger had it not been for a bad offensive pass interference call on him that wiped away a big play. Nonetheless, he was really good and showed that he can be the reliable receiver for Mayfield and the passing game.
The lowlight of the game versus the Cincinnati Bengals was the concussion to cornerback Denzel Ward. After coming back from a concussion, Ward left the game early with another concussion. It is troubling and scary to see a young player struggling with concussions like this. It is cutting short a really impressive rookie season for Ward. Hopefully, this offseason he can get right and not make this a common thing for his career.