Both the Denver Broncos and the Cleveland Browns needed a win Sunday. The Broncos sat at 2-6-0 while the Browns were a disappointing 2-5-0. The winner had some semblance of maybe turning the season around and make a playoff run for a Wild Card spot. The loser, well…..miracles do happen.
The Browns had issues on offense scoring points whereas the defense had issues with costly penalties. The end result was a 24-19 loss, their fourth in a row. The only good news for Cleveland fans was that the Popeye’s wildly popular chicken sandwich debuted again on Sunday and was available on the ride back to the hotel.
An odd event occurred at halftime. The NFL uniform police sent word down to the Browns’ locker room with messages to Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, Jr. The issue was the pair’s cleats. Beckham wore white cleats with red and blue colors with a face outline while Landry adorned an orange more closer to Denver’s orange than Cleveland’s.
The uniform police are at every game and manned by former NFL players. The rules regarding cleats are as follows: “A player may wear shoes that are black, white or any constitutional team color, or any combination of a black, white and a constitutional team color.” Failure by either receiver to change their boots would have meant banishment from the field in the second half until the shoes were changed out.
Kicker Austin Seibert – The rookie is money inside the 40-yard line and made all four field goal attempts of 39, 27 and a duo of 30-yarders. Each kickoff was for minus yards with the exception of one which ascended to the goalline and became the only kickoff return. Had almost a bobo on an extra point, but overall a nice day.
Defensive end Myles Garrett – The star defensive end had a batted ball in the first quarter that would have been good yardage for Denver. His pass rush was consistent and gave Broncos tackle Ja’Wuan James all he could handle. On all three sacks, Garrett was about to be involved in the play and was the second man in.
Run Defense – For most of the game the Broncos could not gain any significant yardage on the ground and had to rely mostly on the passing game. Having said that, running back Phillip Lindsay’s 30-yard scamper into the end zone absolutely nobody laid a finger on him. Sheldon Richardson had stunted to the center while the play went off tackle to his pre-snap side. Garrett was blocked while linebacker Adarius Taylor came down but overran the play. Safety Jermaine Whitehead was pushed out of the way and Lindsay did the rest. Without that one run, Denver only gained 97 rushing yards.
Linebacker Mack Wilson – Every game he just gets better and learns how to read the run versus if the play becomes a passing down. Led the Browns in tackles this game plus a sack and two tackles for loss. Mack had great pass coverage in the second half.
Refusal of Points – Austin Seibert is a sure field goal kicker and nailed four in this game. With 3:19 to go in the game and down 24-19, head coach Freddie Kitchens went for a fourth-and-four at the Broncos 28-yard line after a very good drive stalled. But quarterback Baker Mayfield’s pass to Jarvis Landry was incomplete and the ball was turned over on downs. What is significant about that failed fourth down play, you ask? Back up to the other fourth down attempt Kitchens went for in the third quarter at the six yard line. An almost certain field goal should have been taken. Then when faced with the fourth-and-four situation later in a crucial juncture the score would have been 24-22 and Seibert would have been faced with a 35-yarder to propel Cleveland into the lead at 25-24. If the defense holds for the next three minutes, Cleveland wins this game.
Poor Tackling – The arm tackle or hand grab is pretty popular with the Browns’ defense with an emphasis on the secondary. Long gone are the days where you drive through the player or for heaven’s sake actually try to stop a player running by grabbing his legs. Denzel Ward had a bad day in this respect along with probably the worst tackler on the team - Jermaine Whitehead. Also needing some coaching are Taylor and Greedy Williams. On the Broncos’ highlight reel touchdown from quarterback Brandon Allen to tight end Noah Fant (6’,4”, 249 pounds) in the second quarter, the Browns had eight in the box and rushed four. Fant came off the right end and did a simple cross to which Taylor did not pick up and Fant caught what assumed was a 10-yard completion. Whitehead did a half-ass lean into Fant and grazes off the tight end. Then Greedy Williams offers both hands to Fant as if to whiff on grabbing his flag. Next, Taylor catches up and dives for Fant’s waist and of course stomachs don’t pump up and down like legs do and he misses. Lastly, as Taylor is thrown off the attempted tackle, he takes out the trailing Morgan Burnett who would have been the last man to have a chance at a stop. One play, 10-yard completion, 65-yards after the catch, Broncos extend lead to 14-3.
Offensive Red Zone Opportunities – While the Broncos were able to capitalize and score touchdowns, the Browns were busy with good drives that ended up in the Red Zone and culminated with multiple field goals. The first five attempts into the Red Zone were four Seibert field goals and a failed fourth down attempt. Finally, with just over five minutes left in the third stanza, Mayfield hit Landry for a nine-yard score. Final tally - Browns: 1, Red Zone 5.
Milk Bones – crunchy and chewy at the same time
Left tackle Greg Robinson – Was good in run blocking but had issues with defensive end Derek Wolfe. One of the two Denver sacks in the third quarter was Wolfe coming around the end. Pass protection for Robinson still remains his issue.
Right guard Wyatt Teller – Like Robinson, Teller filling in for Eric Kush was good in the running game but had protection problems with bigger players in the center. Bronco linebacker Justin Hollins was on a stunt and Teller failed to fill the gap which resulted in the other sack.
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry – In the first half, Landry was most of the offense for the Browns. His touchdown late was an excellent catch and run. He finished with 51 yards on six catches.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. – Basically the forgotten man for most of the contest until midway through the third quarter and then he began to light it up. What a sensational twisting catch he made in the third quarter over cornerback Chris Harris, Jr. and then slanted towards the center for added yardage with what would become 27-yards. He may have scored if he had decided to head upfield and split two defenders instead of taking it towards the middle. Then on Cleveland’s last drive Mayfield led him to which he cradled the ball just underneath the arms of Harris and became a sizable gain of 39-yards.