What a wild ride with this Dallas game. First off, only one of five DBN writers had any faith that the Browns could actually defeat the high-flying pass happy Cowboys. Not only is Rufio better looking than any of us, but he did correctly predict a Cleveland win. Our hats are off to you my friend.
No doubt about it: the Dallas Cowboys passing attack is lethal. Blessed with four very good wide receivers and a manchild running back, Dallas lives and dies by the passing game. QB Dak Prescott widened his lead as the league’s passing leader, but in the end the Cowboys fell 49-38.
We learned several things because of this game. For one, the Cowboys know how to challenge a huge lead. Secondly, the Browns know how to allow their opponent to get back into a game despite a big lead. Thirdly, if an extra point is blocked, and then lands in the end zone, the kicking team can pounce on it and receive two points. Who knew?
Until today, Cleveland had been 1-18 in the past three seasons played in the month of October. This game also marked the first time that the Browns have scored 30+ points in three consecutive games.
And suddenly, the 2020 Cleveland Browns are 3-1-0.
So, which players played well? Which had better games?
Three quarters of DE Myles Garrett - The Arlington, Texas native is cementing his status as one of the league’s best defensive ends. If he wasn’t near the tackle or making it, his disruption in the offensive backfield was a constant. The two sacks could just as easily been 4-5 - for three quarters. His lack of playing in the fourth stanza allowed the Cowboys to roar back and almost tie the game. His forced fumble changed the outcome of the first half.
Running attack - 307 rushing yards. Yes, really. When Nick Chubb went down with a right knee injury in the second quarter, Kareem Hunt and third-string back D’Ernest Johnson filled the void nicely. 164 first half rushing yards. Johnson led all rushers with 95 yards and had huge chunks of yardage at opportune moments. OBJ had 73 yards rushing with 50 being on the game-sealing TD. In all, six Browns had rushing stats. The most important aspect was that the Cleveland offense was able to limit the Cowboys’ lethal offense opportunities to score.
WR Odell Beckham, Jr. - This week I mentioned that OBJ always has great games against Dallas, and today was no different. It wasn’t just five catches, it was four miraculous grabs plus an amazing end-around where he made three Cowboy defenders miss with help from a Jarvis Landry block that sent two Dallas players sprawling. Three total TDs will remind you just how special this dude is.
Rightside offensive line - RB Wyatt Teller just keeps getting better with each game. In the third quarter and on the Cowboys’ 14-yard line, it was Teller who pulled and led RB Kareem Hunt into the end zone and a commanding 38-14 lead. The holes developed by RT Jack Conklin and Teller provided a stellar rushing attack coupled with the steady play of C J.C. Tretter.
Points off turnovers - Two Dallas fumbles equaled two Cleveland touchdowns. Sold!
RB D’Ernest Johnson - The third-stringer didn’t waste any time when his name was called. Not bad an effort leading all rushers with 95 yards including a 28-yard burst. Pays to be fresh, healthy and play against one of the league’s worst run defenses.
Defense not protecting the lead - It is paramount to put an opponent away - especially with a huge lead. Up 38-14 at the half, it was the same-old in the beginning of the third quarter for Dallas as they had a three-and-out, and then was denied on a fourth-and-three incomplete pass. After the Browns took it down the field with a 44-yard Cody Parkey field goal to extend their lead to 41-14, the wheels came off. 11 plays covering 77-yards with only 3:16 off the clock with five passes completed of 10-yards or greater. After a Cleveland punt, the Cowboys had a seven-play drive for 79-yards. All tight end Dalton Schultz did was run straight down the field for the touchdown. No juke, no deception. LB Malcolm Smith never saw him until the pass was in the air. S Karl Joseph missed the tackle at the two, and suddenly a very comfortable lead was now 41-30. This drive had five passes of nine yards or greater. Another Cleveland three-and-out and just 31 ticks off the clock, and Dallas marches 80-yards in 11 plays using only 2:18. Six passes completed and now only a 41-38 lead. WTF? Dallas was also 3-3 on two point conversations. It was suddenly the defense’s strategy to wait until the Cowboy receivers catch the ball and then try to tackle them. Why wasn’t there six pass defenders on the field?
S Andrew Sendejo - Out of position, missed tackles, not reading the linebacker who just passed the tight end off to the deep zone, being fooled on head bobs. He did recover a fumble, but the man is a liability. With the Cowboys driving yet again in the fourth quarter down 41-30, Dallas WR CeeDee Lamb came off the line covered by LB Jacob Phillips who released him to the deep zone. Sendejo was off in double coverage to the leftside of the field and did not react to the pass-off to which Lamb was wide open for the score and now a 41-38 game with 3:42 remaining. Two words: Earl Thomas.
Second half missed tackles - In the first half when things were all going orange and brown, the defense only missed two tackles. In the second half, that number climbed to 18 for the contest. Malcolm Smith, Sione Takitaki, Porter Gustin, Tavierre Thomas, Sendejo, Sheldon Richardson, Karl Joseph, Joe Jackson, Terrance Mitchell, Olivier Vernon, and Jacob Phillips all missed opportunities to stop that Dallas onslaught in the fourth quarter with many having multiple misses. Needless to say, 16 in one half is a lead-killer.
Pocket collapses - For the most part, the run blocking was sterling. The pass blocking was a crap shoot. For every two good protections, there was Mayfield being forced out. Eight in all, with two sacks, two more almost sacks, and two QB hits.
Milk Bones - cranky, then bake you cookies
Third down plays - In the first half, the Browns were 3-3 on making first downs. In the second half, they missed on every one: 3-9, 3-2, 3-5.
CB Denzel Ward - Ward is a good tackler and had four stops. And his coverage overall is exceptional. Then he will leave his man wide open with limited recovery abilities especially in the fourth quarter Cowboys run. Sealed the win with the interception.
QB Baker Mayfield - If the Browns needed someone to go toe-to-toe with the Cowboys’ Prescott, it isn’t Mayfield. But a good game manager is what this game needed, and Mayfield stepped up to the task. 19-30 for 165 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions is a sign of consistency.
RB Kareem Hunt - Lightning in a bottle. 11 carries for 73 yards and two critical scores. Excellent pocket pickup blocker as well.
WR Jarvis Landry - The highlight of his career came in the opening drive with not just a 37-yard pass, but a 37-yard strike to OBJ for the Browns’ first score. Targeted just six times with five catches and a pedestrian 48-yards, his downfield blocking is spectacular including taking out two Dallas defenders with one blow on OBJ’s end around the rightside for the clinching score. If the dictionary has a photo under “team player” his photo would be attached.
Lack of pass rush: Second half - In the first half, the pass rush kept Prescott from scrambling and made him hurry his throws. Late in the third stanza and into the entire fourth quarter, the Browns’ front four were obviously spent. There were limited substitutes to come in and give these guys a blow and just about every play was a pass which amplifies the amount of running and contact on each and every play.
Be honest. When the Cowboys roared back from a 27-point deficit to get within three points at 41-38, did you think "Oh, no. Not again!"
This poll is closed
Years of seeing things just like this? Of course
Nah. I knew we would find a way to win