Important game for both franchises
The Browns need to continue their winning ways whereas the Minnesota Vikings are looking for a turnaround for their young season. Both clubs need this win. Cleveland is in a logjam in their division whereas the Vikings want to even their record to 2-2-0.
Let’s jump right into it. Who played well for the Browns? Who didn’t?
Rushing defense – Vikings speedster Dalvin Cook could not get anywhere all day as the Browns defensive front of Malik McDowell, Malik Jackson and Jadeveon Clowney stymied the talented running back. Minnesota had 23 rushes for a paltry 65 yards. Nice job.
RB Kareem Hunt – He busted out for 33-yards on a nifty run in the second quarter that appeared he might be gone. This was on the drive that set up the first field goal. Hunt is a superior blocker when asked to remain in on passing downs. 86 all-purpose yards for the game.
P Jamie Gillian – Any time your punter is needed seven times in a game you are one of the game’s stars. His 39.9 average is nothing to write home about, but three of those were inside the 20 which is hooray! in the kicking biz. Boomed one kick for 54-yards. Your punter one of the stars of the game? When your offense sputters, then yes.
K Chase McLaughlin – Each week the talented kicker comes through with yet another long kick. Made both field goals including a 53-yarder and hasn’t missed one in a game yet. Was also excellent in kickoffs with an average of minus 7 including one that sailed completely out of the end zone.
Middle of offensive line – Most of the bigger gains came straight up the gut behind center J.C. Tretter plus guards Wyatt Teller and Joel Bitonio. The two starting defensive tackles for the Vikings combined for just four total tackles and were moved consistently by this trio. Both guards are excellent at pulling to the outside on several key running plays.
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah – The rook was all over the place. With 2:30 left in the game facing a third-and-six, it was JOK who defended WR Adam Thielen for the incompletion. Finished with seven total tackles, five of which were solo.
QB Baker Mayfield – Today must have been “National Overthrow Wide Open Receivers Day” since Mayfield did this continuously. The worst of the day was what could have been the game clincher with 1:08 remaining where he missed badly a wide-ass open OBJ at the Vikings’ 30. Overthrew Bryant Harrison early into Quarter 4 and then the following play underthrew Hunt which stalled a decent drive. Early in the third quarter facing a third-and-two Mayfield rolled out to his right to which a wide open Demetric Felton was sitting next to the sideline and instead he kept the ball and was sacked instead. Only 15 completions from 33 passes only tells part of this disaster. One of his best maneuvers was tying Teller’s cleat.
Refusing points – Second week in a row head coach Kevin Stefanski went for a fourth down play instead of kicking an field goal. This alone kept the Vikings in the game until the final seconds. Instead of leading 17-7 with four minutes remaining or :57 left or three seconds to go, the Browns held a slim seven point edge. The fourth down failure happened during the end of Cleveland’s epic 15-play opening drive which found themselves with a third-and-four on Minnesota’s six. Mayfield was then sacked just like last week. As far as we know here at DBN, the team with the most points still wins the game.
Play calling under four minutes – The four minute mark is a milestone in NFL games. The clock stops on more opportunities during this period than what would normally keep the time going. Sitting at Minnesota’s 47 with a second-and-10, Mayfield missed OBJ. Clock stops. Next play Mayfield missed Anthony Schwartz. Again, the clock stops with yet another Gillan punt. Two plays at 40 seconds could have eclipsed. After the Vikings lose possession on a missed fourth down attempt, Cleveland gets the ball back with 1:21 to go. Minnesota has all of its time outs left, but nothing more to stop the clock. Enter Cleveland’s bad play calling “again” under four minutes. After two short Nick Chubb runs, the Browns have a third-and-five. A long pass to OBJ is off-target and then one more free clock stoppage. Add another 40 seconds to this tally. So Minnesota gets the ball back with 1:01 remaining. 40 times three equals game over. The trick is to run the ball and keep the clock moving.
PR Demetric Felton – Hopefully the rookie can improve his numbers, but today he fielded five punts for an average of just five yards per return. Two of his returns he lost yardage.
Milk Bones – everyone has a plan until they are hit in the mouth
S Grant Delpit – Was steady in center field and made some special plays. In the third quarter he tipped a pass that was going into the waiting hands of Adam Thielen that would have been a first down. Played a bit soft with zone coverage at times including a key first down catch by Minnesota’s Dede Westbrook early in the fourth quarter. Delpit also had an interception that was negated with a penalty.
CB Denzel Ward – His fourth-and-six pass defense of Justin Jefferson was superb with :22 left. Was out of position when Jefferson gained 31-yards with 2:09 to play on a key third-and-eight.
FB Andy Janovich – His seal block on Hunt’s touchdown in the second quarter was a thing of beauty.
DT Malik McDowell – Vikings left guard Ezra Cleveland had his hands full all day against McDowell. Superb run defense for the big man and is becoming one of the best storylines for the Browns this year.
LB Malcolm Smith – The veteran seemed to be everywhere today and led all defenders with eight total tackles. Is an excellent tight end pass defender. Minnesota starting TE Christopher Herndon had zero catches while TE Tyler Conklin had just four for 18 yards.
CB Greedy Williams – Played steady and was in the right spots for most of the game. Had a key interception. Allowed the 20-yard pass completion to Jefferson right before the third quarter was over.
RB Nick Chubb – Was the leading ground gainer today with an even 100-yards. Had a pedestrian first half but came on in the second stanza with several key runs.