CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Myles Garrett’s reign of terror continues.
Garrett added two more sacks to take over the NFL lead with 9.0 on the season and he set a Browns franchise record with a sack in his sixth consecutive game in Sunday’s 37-34 victory over the Bengals.
“Definitely one I will look back on fondly,” Garrett said. “Those close games and close wins, you have to call back on them. Whether you are up or down, that is how you fall back on your fundamentals, remember how you won those games and know what to do in those situations.”
It was one of few bright spots for the defense which gave up 468 yards of offense, allowed Joe Burrow and the Bengals to convert 6 of 9 on third down and forced just one punt in what became a defense optional fourth quarter.
“We look at it as a win,” Garrett said. “As a defender, I look at it as we can get better.
There were definitely opportunities for us to get off the field. Plays could have been made on the ball. At times, we have to scramble and are out of breath. Whether it was up the middle run games or through the D, we have to keep him from getting away. He is a talented quarterback, and we have seen that. He has been playing well, but we can’t let him control the game like that. We did just enough.”
Garrett’s three multi-sack games this year lead the league and he is now No. 4 on the Browns all-time sack list.
He strip-sacked Burrow for the second time this season.
“Just making a play,” Garrett said. “It is not like I see him being bad protecting the ball. I am just going for the ball, no matter who it is. He just happened to put it up there for me.”
Garrett has recorded nine-plus sacks in the first seven games of a season for two consecutive years, the second time this has ever been done in the NFL (Justin Houston from 2013-14) and he’s the first Browns player to ever do it.
His 39.5 career sacks tie Mario Williams for the second-most sacks by a No. 1 overall pick in his first four years, behind only Bruce Smith (44.5).
Garrett is one of only three players to have at least 39.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles since 2017.
Stepping Up – Four Browns stepped up in a big way following Odell Beckham Jr.’s departure early in the first quarter due to a knee injury, reportedly feared to be serious.
Beckham’s best friend Jarvis Landry didn’t score Sunday, but he did everything else. Landry caught five passes for 48 yards to extend his streak of games with at least two receptions to 102, ran twice for four yards and completed a 19-yard pass.
Tight end Harrison Bryant caught four passes for 56 yards – two of them for touchdowns.
“Coming into the game, we knew that there would be opportunities,” Bryant, who started in place of Austin Hooper after the Pro Bowler underwent an appendectomy Friday, said. “We just wanted to take full advantage of those opportunities. We did that today. Obviously, stuff we can still improve on, but going out and scoring two touchdowns in a game like that and winning at the end, it is huge. A lot of emotions. It was a great feeling.”
Rashard Higgins caught a season high six receptions for a career-high 110 yards. It was his first career 100-yard receiving game.
“He knows me, and I know him,” Higgins said of his chemistry with Mayfield. “There is nothing to say about that. It is wine poured in a cup – smooth.”
Donovan Peoples-Jones caught is first career touchdown pass, which was the game winner with 11 seconds remaining and he added a career-high three receptions for 56 yards. The other two catches moved the sticks.
“I think Baker has great trust in all these guys,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said. “I think we spread the ball around. You saw Harrison score a touchdown down there, and David scored a touchdown. I think he has great faith and all these guys.”
Mayfield echoed Stefanski’s thoughts.
“For starters, also Austin Hooper having emergency appendicitis surgery, and just the mindset of last-minute having guys step in and do things that they weren’t practicing all week,” Mayfield said. “Obviously, Odell going down mid-game is not great, but we had a ton of guys step up. You never want to have to go through that, but this team is resilient, and our guys showed that today.”
Secondary D – Sure the Browns defense got lit up by Burrow for 406 yards and three touchdowns, but cornerback Denzel Ward and safety Ronnie Harrison Jr. came up big.
Ward, who is having a Pro Bowl caliber season, broke up three more passes, one of which was intercepted by linebacker BJ Goodson. His 11 passes defensed this season leads the AFC and is tied for the NFL lead.
Harrison recorded a season-high nine tackles and added his second career fumble recovery off Garrett’s strip sack. Harrison Jr. also had his first sack of the season.
Take That – The Browns won the turnover battle Sunday 2-1 and are 5-0 this season when doing so.
An interception and fumble recovery Sunday now give them 14 takeaways this season, which leads the NFL.
Orange Crush – Cleveland donned their spiffy orange pants Sunday and remained undefeated in them, a perfect 3-0.
Injury Report – Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will undergo an MRI Monday in Cleveland after suffering what apparently was a significant left knee injury on Mayfield’s first pass attempt of the game which was intercepted.