Cleveland Browns wide receiver David Bell has not had the easiest start to his NFL career.
A third-round selection by the Browns in the 2022 NFL Draft, Bell dealt with thumb and toe injuries during his rookie year, and while he was active for 16 games, he finished the season with just 24 receptions for 214 yards and no touchdowns.
It has been more of the same this season as Bell came into Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars as an afterthought in the passing game with just 11 targets on the year, resulting in six catches for 45 yards.
That changed a bit today as Bell finally opened his scoring account in the fourth quarter when he caught a pass on fourth down that turned into a 41-yard touchdown reception where Bell was as wide-open as a receiver can be during the Browns 31-27 win over the Jaguars.
When asked after the game, Bell had to turn back the clock a lot to find the last time he had such an easy score (quote via a team-provided transcript):
“(I) turned around (after catching the pass) and I just saw nothing but green grass. I was surprised. Not a little, I was a lot surprised to keep it real. It just felt like little league back when I was in second grade, just seeing that much green grass, I haven’t seen that much since I was about six or seven.”
Bell’s catch was one of several big plays from the Browns, who also saw tight end David Njoku pick up a pair of 30-plus-yard touchdown receptions in the 31-27 victory over the Jaguars.
The fact that Bell and Njoku were wide open on the plays made life easier for Joe Flacco, as the veteran quarterback said after the game (quote via a team-provided transcript):
“It’s awesome for a quarterback when you get that picture. I mean, listen, I think you got to credit how well we’ve done in short-yardage situations and how well these guys have done running the ball all year. So even last game against the (Los Angeles) Rams, we started to see what worked in those short-yardage situations, loading up and coming at people. And I think that’s what happened on that first one. They’re so loaded up to try to stop our play up the middle and we get a guy wide open and then the other one wasn’t necessarily that situation, but it’s a similar thing. We do a little play-action. You get guys to kind of get drawn up a little bit.
“And Dave (Njoku) is an awesome guy to have catch those. That is his strength. Get him the ball while he’s moving down the field. And he’s a tough tackle. You can see his speed. I don’t know what he ran or anything, but you can see his speed and strength, obviously, when he gets the ball in those types of situations, he’s pretty special.”
It hasn’t always been easy for the Browns on offense this season, with the injuries growing by the week. But for one day the easy throws were there and the offense connected on them for touchdowns.
In the process, Flacco, Bell and Njoku helped the Browns gain a stronger foothold in their quest to make the playoffs.