Cleveland had a great opening drive to the 2019 season. It was all downhill after that, snowballing in embarrassing fashion. The penalties by the team were the most since 1951. Players were throwing punches or kicking players, the latter of which got our starting left tackle ejected. The team was down to just five offensive linemen by halftime. And when the Browns had a glimmer of hope near the end of the third quarter, the Titans responded with three touchdowns within about five minutes to annihilate the Browns like they should have earlier.
Let’s get to how things started.
The Browns got the ball first to open the game, and the only misstep was on the first play in which QB Baker Mayfield was nearly intercepted. After that, the Browns picked up first down after first down, utilizing all their weapons. Even a questionable 15-yard penalty on LT Greg Robinson for a blindside block didn’t stop Mayfield, who responded with a 35-yard dart to WR Rashard Higgins, down to the 4-yard line. One play later, RB Dontrell Hilliard punched it in from four yards out to give Cleveland a 6-0 lead. Rookie K Austin Seibert missed the extra point.
The Titans started their drive backed up in their own territory, but S Jermaine Whitehead roughed the passer on the first play, and then QB Marcus Mariota found WR A.J. Brown for a 47-yard pass after he had beaten CB Denzel Ward. Titans RB Dion Lewis dropped a third-down screen pass, forcing K Cairo Santos to kick a 37-yard field goal to make it a 6-3 game.
The Browns’ second drive didn’t go as well. TE David Njoku couldn’t catch a bullet pass over the middle, and then on third down, Mayfield was sacked back to his own 1 yard line. Cleveland got out of it thanks to a nice punt by P Jamie Gillan. On Cleveland’s next drive, facing a third down to begin the second quarter, Mayfield’s pass to Hilliard in the flat was at his feet, forcing a punt.
Tennessee’s next drive was full of penalties on the Browns’ defensive line, along with a third down defensive holding penalty on S Damarious Randall. Those penalties kept extending the drive, and RB Derrick Henry capped the 87-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Titans a 10-7 lead with under ten minutes to go in the second quarter.
Cleveland’s next offensive drive began with a 9-yard run by RB Nick Chubb. But then TE Demetrius Harris dropped a pass on second down, and then on 3rd-and-1, Mayfield looked deep for WR Jarvis Landry down the sideline, but he was out of bounds. The game continued getting worse for Cleveland offensively on their next drive, as Robinson was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, and then ejected upon further review for kicking a player; backup OT Kendall Lamm came in to replace him.
A sack by DE Myles Garrett stopped the Titans on their next drive, who punted to set Cleveland up with a two-minute drill; unfortunately, it was a 70-yard punt to put the ball at the 3 yard line. And then, DE Cameron Wake beat RT Chris Hubbard around the edge to log a safety, giving the Titans a 12-6 lead and now a chance for their own two-minute drive. The defense held to force a punt, but with Cleveland backed up again and only a minute to go. They could only get to midfield before the clock hit all zeroes.
The Titans received the ball first to begin the second half, and they hit a 51-yard pass (catch-and-run) to Brown right away. A sack by DT Larry Ogunjobi took the Titans right to the edge of field goal range, and the Titans brought in Santos for a 53-yard attempt, which he drilled down the middle to give Tennessee a two-score lead at 15-6.
The Browns got to midfield again on their next drive before having to punt again; but Gillan did pin the Titans back to the 6 yard line. The defense forced a quick three-and-out half-way through the third quarter, but P Brett Kern delivered another good one, and a holding penalty made sure Cleveland only got the ball at their own 39 yard line. After a few more penalties seemed like the drive was going to die again, Landry came to the rescue -- first with a 23-yard catch on third down, followed by a 34-yard contested catch to the 3 yard line.
Mayfield ➡️ Landry moves the ⛓ pic.twitter.com/PGNuUn1G8R— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 8, 2019
One play later, Mayfield threw his first touchdown pass of the season, a quick-hitter to Njoku over the middle to make it a 15-13 game with 2:10 to go in the third quarter. Unfortunately, the Titans responded immediately with a 75-yard screen pass to Henry, putting the Titans back up by two scores again at 22-13 with 1:57 to go in the third quarter.
To start the fourth quarter, Mayfield let a ball get away from him and was picked by S Kevin Byard, as the Titans took over in field goal range.
Mariota scrambled on third down to get near the goal line, and then one play later, he lobbed the ball open to TE Delaine Walker for an 11-yard touchdown, practically putting the game out of reach at 29-13 despite there being 12:32 to go in the game. Things got even dire, though, as Mayfield was picked off again to end the next series, this time on an out cut as Mayfield tried to hit Landry with CB Logan Ryan in coverage. The Browns’ defense lost any ability to stop the Titans, eventually allowing another touchdown via a wide open playaction pass to Walker from 7 yards out to make it a 36-13 game with 9:03 to go.
With three minutes to go, Cleveland had just gotten the ball back, and Mayfield threw his third interception of the quarter, this time with CB Malcolm Butler taking it back for a 38-yard pick six to make it a 43-13 game.
- QB Baker Mayfield: 25-of-38 for 285 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT.
- RB Nick Chubb: 16 carries, 74 yards. 3 catches, 10 yards.
- WR Odell Beckham Jr: 7 catches, 71 yards (11 targets).
- The Browns committed 18 penalties for 182 yards.
- DE Myles Garrett: 2 sacks
- The Browns allowed five sacks.