Cleveland concluded their preseason with a 19-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. QB Baker Mayfield and select starters played two series, and most importantly, the team stayed healthy. We’ve seen other teams not be as fortunate, such as the Baltimore Ravens losing their starting running back to a torn ACL.
Let’s get to the game itself. Mayfield took the first series with a mixed bag — they got to midfield on a pass interference play, two passes were tipped, and then a trip to the red zone was set up by a 35-yard pass to TE Austin Hooper on a play in which two Falcons defenders ran into each other.
Mayfield almost had a touchdown to WR KhaDarel Hodge in the left corner, but he couldn’t snag it. On fourth down, Mayfield’s pass to Hooper was short of the market, and he didn’t hang onto it either. The Browns’ defense allowed a long catch-and-run to Falcons TE Kyle Pitts on the first play of their drive, but forced a punt of Atlanta on 4th-and-1 after that.
On Cleveland’s next offensive possession, a screen pass to RB D’Ernest Johnson got Cleveland to midfield, and then Mayfield fired two perfect passes to Hodge, the latter of which was a 22-yard touchdown to give Cleveland a 7-0 lead.
The Falcons got into field goal territory on their next drive, but a third-down sack by DE Cameron Malveaux forced Atlanta to settle for a 41-yard field goal to make it a 7-3 game early in the second quarter. Mayfield’s day was done, with backup QB Case Keenum entering. Keenum looked sharp in getting Cleveland down into the red zone again, with RB Demetric Felton playing a role in getting them down there. The drive stalled out, though, and Keenum’s fourth down floating pass to Johnson was too far for a turnover on downs.
Cleveland’s defense proceeded to force a three-and-out, with DT Malik McDowell continuing to make an impression with a sack. After the punt, Cleveland took over 41 yards away from the end zone. They got into the red zone again, but this time settled for a 32-yard field goal by K Chase McLaughlin to make it a 10-3 game. The Browns’ defense forced another three-and-out of the Falcons, allowing Keenam and company to operate from the two-minute offense. They got in range to allow McLaughlin to try a 57-yard field goal as time expired, but it bounced off the middle part of the crossbar and then came back to be ruled no good.
In the second half, McLaughlin added a 28-yard field goal to expand the Browns’ lead to 13-3. Later on, QB Kyle Lauletta threw his second interception of the half, again struggling to deliver a pass after rolling to his left:
In the fourth quarter, QB Josh Rosen of the Falcons threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to WR Juwan Green, cutting Cleveland’s lead to 13-10.
With just over two minutes to go in the half, Lauletta connected on a back shoulder touchdown pass to WR Davion Davis to give Cleveland a 19-10 lead.
And then of course, to give Browns fans something to finish the preseason unhappy about, McLaughlin shanked the extra point.
That wraps up the preseason! The Browns will have to trim their roster to 53 players by Tuesday, August 31st at 4:00 PM ET. Fans have been debating our projection of the 53-man roster here.
- QB Baker Mayfield: 6-of-10 for 113 yards, 1 TD.
- QB Kyle Lauletta didn’t do himself any favors this week, throwing 2 interceptions and not having the same accuracy he did in the first preseason game.
- WR KhaDarel Hodge had 2 catches for 42 yards and 1 touchdown. WR Davion Davis, of course, came up with another nice touchdown grab late in the game.
- TE Jordan Franks and TE Kyle Markaway were racking up catches, combining to have 9 catches for 99 yards.
- DT Malik McDowell looked impressive on defense again.