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Browns vs. Giants Final Score: Cleveland controls the game in 20-6 victory on Sunday Night Football

Cleveland gets one step closer to making the playoffs.

Cleveland Browns v New York Giants Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Doesn’t it feel a little odd to be in control and finish a game from start to finish? Playing in their second straight prime time game, the Cleveland Browns calmly defeated the New York Giants 20-6. Let’s get to the recap of the game.

1st Quarter

The Giants received the opening kickoff, and right away, former Browns RB Dion Lewis broke a 48-yard kickoff return, breaking several tackles. The Giants moved the ball via the ground, and then had the benefit of a free play after DE Myles Garrett jumped offsides — which saw QB Colt McCoy complete a 22-yard back shoulder throw to WR Sterling Shephard.

After getting to 4th-and-5 at the 8 yard line, the Giants sent out the field goal unit. But then, the unit motioned out had P Riley Dixon throw the ball to the center over the middle. Thankfully, the pass was high and incomplete, turning the ball over on downs.

The Browns got into a 3rd-and-3 situation on their first drive, and that’s when RG Chris Hubbard had to leave the game with an injury, forcing rookie OL Nick Harris into his first action of the season. The Browns got the ball to past midfield, but then on a 3rd-and-3 play from the 44 yard line, they ran the ball with RB Kareem Hunt, who only gained a yard. On 4th-and-2, Cleveland went for it and spread the formation. Mayfield’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage, meaning the Browns now turned the ball over on downs.

On third down of the next series for McCoy, he found WR Darius Slayton wide open on the wheel route for a 35-yard gain. A few plays later, McCoy had TE Evan Engram open for a touchdown, but he lofted the ball way too softly, allowing S Karl Joseph to break the play up at the last second. The Giants settled for a 37-yard field goal by K Graham Gano, taking the first lead of the game at 3-0.

The Browns then strung together some nice plays, ending the first quarter with a 22-yard strike from Mayfield to Higgins.

2nd Quarter

A few plays into the second quarter, the Browns faced a 3rd-and-2 goal from the 2 yard line. Mayfield went under the gun and ran a playaction fake, elevating the ball over the linebacker to the open TE Austin Hooper for the game’s first touchdown. K Cody Parkey nailed the extra point, giving the Browns a 7-3 lead with 12:31 to go in the half.

The Browns popped the ball loose on Lewis’ next kickoff return, but the Giants were able to recover it. New York then ran the ball with ease, mixing backup RB Alfred Morris into the game. With Cleveland biting for the run, the playaction passing game started to work. Once again, though, the Giants struggled in the red zone. And then, facing a 4th-and-2 from the 5 yard line, Joe Judge decided to go for it. RB Wayne Gallman got the handoff and was stuffed by both of Cleveland’s safeties — a huge stop for the Browns and another turnover on downs for New York, keeping it a 7-3 game.

Mayfield then ran a clinic in passing the ball against the Giants’ defense — 7 yards to Hunt, 18 yards to WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, 15 yards to WR Jarvis Landry, and then 22 yards to TE David Njoku to head into the two-minute warning with the Browns in the red zone.

Cleveland ran a few plays to set up a 1st-and-goal situation at the 6 yard line with 0:34 and 2 timeouts. A 4-yard run by Chubb got the ball to the 2 yard line, as Cleveland called their second timeout setting up a 2nd-and-goal from the 2 yard line. Mayfield found Landry in the back of the right side of the end zone for a touchdown.

After the score, Landry jawed a tad to the defender, and the official threw a 15-yard penalty on him. The Giants elected to enforce the penalty on the extra point, making it a 48-yard try — and Parkey boinked it off the right upright, making it no good. The Giants took a knee to end the half at 13-3. Mayfield had a very impressive first half:

3rd Quarter

An 11-yard sack on the Browns’ opening drive of the second half stopped the team’s momentum after picking up a first down. P Jamie Gillan came on and hit a 47-yard punt that was fair caught a the 14 yard line, at least reversing some field position as the Giants got set for their first drive of the half.

The Browns forced two third down passing situations on the Giants’ first drive, but McCoy completed passes on both of them to move the ball to midfield, including this pass with DE Olivier Vernon dropping into coverage:

The Giants faced another 3rd-and-long, this time needing 12 yards, and they picked up 8 yards to set up 4th-and-4. The Giants initially lined up to go for it, but then rushed the punt unit onto the field to punt it away. CB Tavierre Thomas was flagged for a block in the back on the punt, forcing the offense to take over at the 4 yard line.

Mayfield extended the Browns’ next drive with a quarterback run on a third down while backed up, and later a 20-yard strike to Higgins on the next third down. Chubb then got it going with his best run of the game for 15 yards.

4th Quarter

After a quick completion to Hooper, the Browns faced 1st-and-goal from the 6 yard line. Chubb looked to have a touchdown on first down, but the play came back as RT Jack Conklin was flagged 15 yards for clipping. On 1st-and-goal from the 21, Mayfield ripped a 17-yard pass to Higgins, making it 2nd-and-goal from the 4 yard line. Then, a false start by LT Jedrick Wills pushed it back to 2nd-and-goal from the 9 yard line. An 8-yard completion to Chubb set up 3rd-and-goal from the 1 yard line. Chubb then punched it in from a yard out, completing the 14-yard, 95-yard drive that took up 8 minutes of clock to give the Browns a 20-3 lead with 12:53 to go in the game.

Despite a bad snap on their next drive, Cleveland was still able to burn almost 4 minutes of clock before punting it away. With 4:07 left in the game, Gano came on to kick a 39-yard field goal for the Giants to make it a 20-6 game.

The Giants tried an onside kick, and although TE Harrison Bryant initially bobbled it, it was ruled that he recovered it in the ensuing scrum. New York challenged it out of desperation, but the ruling was upheld. Cleveland mostly ran the ball heading into the two-minute warning, with RB D’Ernest Johnson’s 21-yard run on 3rd-and-9 helping move the chains on one play. The Browns punted with about a minute to go and the Giants having no timeouts. Garrett got his sack before the game ended to make him happy! (split with Ogunjobi)

Up Next

The Browns will play on the road on Sunday, December 27, in their Week 16 match-up against the New York Jets. The game will be at 1:00 PM ET.

Quick Hitter Stats

  • QB Baker Mayfield: 27-of-32 for 297 yards, 2 TD.
  • RB Nick Chubb: 15 carries, 50 yards, 1 TD. 2 catches, 16 yards.
  • RB Kareem Hunt: 7 carries, 21 yards. 3 catches, 7 yards.
  • WR Jarvis Landry: 7 catches, 61 yards, 1 TD.
  • WR Rashard Higgins: 4 catches, 76 yards.
  • TE Austin Hooper: 5 catches, 41 yards, 1 TD.

Quick Hitter Notes

  • I had so many butterflies in my stomach when the game was an hour away from starting. It wasn’t because I was afraid of the Giants (at all), it was just hearing about all the stakes — it’s been way too long since the Browns have been in this position for a playoff push. And they delivered, maintaining their No. 5 seed in the AFC. They have to keep the pressure up next week against the Jets.
  • I think I saw Mayfield misfire on one throw in this game. He was on the money — what a fantastic job by him. I know the Pro Bowl race will be tight in the AFC since Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are locks for it, but Mayfield deserves to be in there too.
  • “This defense is such trash” — I heard that much of the first half, including from DBN’s very own Matt Wood. And he’s not wrong, but the return of Denzel Ward made a difference, and the defense delivered against a bad Giants offense. Fortunately, Colt McCoy still has a very weak NFL arm, and that prevented some would-be completions that many other teams would have gotten.
  • Also credit the Browns’ fourth-down defense. They allowed 20-of-25 fourth down conversions heading into the game, but stopped the Giants’ first two attempts at it.
  • Giants LT Andrew Thomas owned DE Myles Garrett on the day. Incredibly, the Browns didn’t get one sack all game — check that, in garbage time, Garrett just got a sack in the final seconds, lol.
  • As soon as Chris Hubbard got hurt early on, I thought to myself, “You know, I’d actually be intrigued if we put Nick Harris in to start here.” Kudos to the rookie, who held up pretty well.
  • Karl Joseph led the Browns with 10 tackles. We’ll see what the tape says, but this appeared to be his best game as a Brown.


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