Cleveland Browns Week 1 Recap:
For the first time in 17 years, the Cleveland Browns have won a season-opening game. Cleveland beats the Carolina Panthers 26-24 on a game-winning field goal. The last time the Browns won a season opener was in 2004. Jeff Garcia was the starting quarterback and the Baltimore Ravens were the opponent. The final score of that game was 20-3. This first game of the season came with a lot of pre-game storylines and a lot of drama stirred up. Put storylines aside and rumors you’re Cleveland Browns handled business.
A year ago the Browns finished with a top 5 unit in total defense. All off-season the talk has been the team will ride the shoulders of this defense for the first 11 games. Myles Garrett and company dominated the majority of the game, limiting what the Panthers were able to do on offense. For example, Cleveland Brown’s defense only allowed a total of 261 yards. Surrendered a total of 54 rushing yards, and 207 passing yards. They sacked Baker Mayfield 4 times and completely confused Mayfield and the Panther’s offense for the majority of the day. Baker Mayfield went 16-27 (54% completion) 235 total yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, and a quarterback rating of 84.7%. The majority of the Panther’s 24 points came in the 4th quarter where they scored on Cleveland’s miscommunications on defense. Robby Anderson led receivers with 5 receptions for 102 yards and 1 touchdown.
The Cleveland Brown’s offense was slow to start but once they got going controlled the clock and the ball. They were able to get whatever they wanted via the run game and Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt had a major impact on this game. With a total of 217 rush yards, the run game was dominant and effective. Nick Chubb had 22 attempts for 141 rush yards, and Kareem Hunt had 11 attempts for 46 rush yards and 1 touchdown. Hunt was effective in the passing game bringing in 24 reception yards and another touchdown. Kareem Hunt had a total of 70 yards and 2 touchdowns. The passing game railed in 138 yards. Jacoby Brissett went 18-34 (52% completion) 147 total yards 1 touchdown and a QBR of 74.7%. Combined with the rushing attack and passing game Cleveland had 355 yards of total offense.
Cleveland Special Teams
Cleveland’s specials for the last few years have been a major question mark. Return man Jakeem Grant went down in training camp with an Achilles injury and it left a massive hole. Second-year running back Demtric Felton served the role of return specialist for the game and he had some scary moments. Fumbling one punt that the Browns did recover. Before that, he didn’t seem comfortable catching the punts. After the fumble, he settled down a lot. Star of the game rookie kicker Cade York. He went 4-4 on all kicks of the game and hit the game-winning field goal from 58 yards out. York said he struggled in pre-game warmups but fought in the game. The kick was fantastic and would’ve been good for an extra 10 yards.
The Revenge game for Baker Mayfield and his new team started off slow. Baker and company looked confused and didn’t have much going on in the first half. The second half and going into the fourth quarter is where the Panthers turned it on. Scoring 17 points in that quarter looked like they were primed for a comeback victory. If it wasn’t for the game-winning field goal. Carolina’s defense was solid and controlled the passing attack but could not stop the run game at all. All in all the fourth quarter was the Panther’s friend for a while and Baker had a solid game.
The Cleveland Browns have gotten another monkey off their back under the Kevin Stefanski era. There is room for growth on both sides of the ball. For instance for the duration of Deshaun Watson’s suspension the passing game will be a work in progress. Jacoby Brissett is a solid backup but has his limitations. Regardless he engineered a game-winning drive. The run game was excellent and this team should really look to keep Hunt and Chubb together in the long run. The defense was great but needs to stay focused all the way through. This unit has the talent to be atop the NFL. At the end of the day, the Cleveland Browns have won a season opener for the first time in 17 years. There will be things to clean up but are a lot easier doing it coming off a win.