There will be no 0-20 this year! The first preseason game for the Cleveland Browns saw them take out the New Orleans Saints by a final score of 20-14.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best start for QB Brock Osweiler, who in four drives was not able to produce any points and his first three series were three-and-outs. The downfield throws that he was hitting left-and-right over his last two practices weren’t there against the Saints. It also didn’t help that Cameron Erving, making the start for a perfectly-fine Joe Thomas at left tackle, was a highlight-reel of mistakes from the get-go.
Defensively, the Browns got some bad news on the second play of the game when SS Ibraheim Campbell suffered a concussion. The Saints should have had a touchdown on their second drive of the game, but WR Ted Ginn dropped a wide open look in the middle of the end zone, forcing them to settle for a 22-yard field goal to make it a 3-0 game mid-way through the first quarter.
Cleveland finally got a first down to begin the second quarter. Osweiler had a shot at hitting TE Seth DeValve for about a 30-yard touchdown over the middle, but he overthrew it just beyond the leap of DeValve. A little later in the drive, Osweiler made a nice throw to WR Kenny Britt on what should have been a touchdown, but Britt did a terrible job in not dragging his second foot. Britt’s rough drive continued when he couldn’t haul in a fourth-down slant at the goal line, letting the defensive back out-work him to the ball.
Garrett Grayson then took over at quarterback for the Saints, and it wasn’t long before DT Trevon Coley got a pass rush and then stripped Grayson from behind. DE Carl Nassib recovered, giving the Browns great field position.
QB Cody Kessler was the benefactor of the great field position, and several plays later, rookie RB Matthew Dayes punched it in from one yard out. Fellow rookie K Zane Gonzalez kicked the extra point to make it a 7-3 game. The Saints tacked on a field goal before the end of the half to make it 7-6.
QB DeShone Kizer took over in the third quarter but couldn’t materialize much during his first couple of series. The story ended up being Gregg Williams’ defense, which had a great goal line stand, including a fourth-down stuff by CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun on an end-around to preserve the lead.
The Saints’ offense persisted, though, and on their next drive, Cleveland couldn’t muster up another goal line stand as QB Ryan Nassib found WR Tommylee Lewis for a 2-yard touchdown, making it a 12-7 game. The two-point conversion initially failed, but Cleveland was flagged for being offsides. RB Daniel Lasco carried for the two-point conversion after that, making it 14-7 with nearly the entire fourth quarter to go.
The best throw of the game came on Kizer's next series. After taking a 10-yard sack on second down, the Browns faced a 3rd-and-15 from their own 47 yard line. Kizer side-stepped a rusher and then delivered a perfect 52-yard strike to WR Richard Mullaney, who was tackled at the 1 yard line.
One play later, RB Terrence Magee punched it in to make it a 14-13 game. Even though 12 minutes were left in the game, head coach Hue Jackson was not content to tie the game. He went for two, but the bubble screen pass to RB Matthew Dayes was blown up.
The defense got the ball back for Kizer, who had the team rolling down to the 47 yard line. Then, the team had back-to-back holding penalties to put them in a 3rd-and-24 hole just before the two-minute warning. Kizer found WR Rannell Hall over the middle for a 22-yard gain, setting up a 4th-and-2 from midfield at the two-minute warning. The protection held against the blitz, and Kizer stood tall and delivered a strike to WR Jordan Payton for a 45-yard touchdown! The extra point by Gonzalez made it a 20-14 game with 1:52 to go.
Then, the defense let Nassib walk down the field for wide open gains of 10, 13, 15, and 12 yards. When I say wide open, I’m not kidding -- it was easy pickings. But the defense tightened up near the red zone, forcing a 4th-and-6 from the 21 yard line...and Cleveland got the strip and recovery to seal the victory! LB Ladell Fleming and DE Tyrone Holmes were in on the play.
- QB Brock Osweiler: 6-of-14 for 42 yards.
- QB Cody Kessler: 5-of-10 for 47 yards.
- QB DeShone Kizer: 11-of-18 for 184 yards, 1 TD.
- DE Myles Garrett looked the part while he was in the game. He had a couple of good plays against the run, and his best pass-rush came on the following third-down play:
Myles Garrett from a wide alignment. pic.twitter.com/aqWjvLyp63— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 11, 2017
- Not a good play here by MLB Tank Carder, allowing the running back to bounce it to the outside for a big gain. MLB Joe Schobert had an impressive day with the backups.
Alvin Kamara runs into a wall, then bounces it outside. pic.twitter.com/7o4VW2IoAG— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 11, 2017
- Gregg Williams’ defense came to play from a physicality perspective, finishing the game with four sacks and two forced fumbles.
- Cleveland had 12 penalties for 72 yards, which made things pretty ugly at times.
- Bubble Players With Good Games: WR Richard Mullaney, DE Nate Orchard, DT Trevon Coley, MLB Joe Schobert, CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun.