MINNEAPOLIS, MN – One week after sacking Chicago Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields nine times in a 26-6 win, the Cleveland Browns stout defense continued their dominant play in a 14-7 road win against the Minnesota Vikings
Cleveland, which came into the game with the fifth best overall defense in the NFL, certainly looked and acted the part of it in corralling Kirk Cousins to 20-38 passing for 203 yards and one touchdown, while also picking him off once and sacking him twice.
While Cousins did march the Vikings down the field on their opening drive, which culminated in a touchdown pass to Justin Jefferson to give the Vikings their only lead of the game at 7-0, Minnesota would never lead against after the Browns responded on a one-yard touchdown rush by Kareem Hunt and a successful two-point conversion pass from Baker Mayfield to fullback Andy Janovich to make it 8-7.
Perhaps suffering from the lingering injury to his non-throwing shoulder, or the loss of the usually reliable Jarvis Landry, but this was not one of Mayfield’s better games under center as he completed15-33 passes for 155 yards and get sacked three times. Usually a pretty accurate passer, Mayfield missed on a variety of downfield throws, screens and seam routes that are normally his trademark bread and butter passes that has become his calling card.
Again, not one of Mayfield’s best outings, but thanks to a solid running game led by Nick Chubb’s 100 yards rushing on 22 carries and Kareem Hunt continuing his solid play in rushing for 69 yards on 14 carries and one touchdown, Cleveland didn’t need Mayfield to do much, but you can’t help but feel that the Browns left some plays and points on the field.
Thankfully, the Browns defense shut down Vikings RB Dalvin Cook and Minnesota’s run game to the tune of 23 carries for 65 yards total, with Cook rushing nine times for 34 of them.
If you’re a Browns fan, you are happy to be at 3-1, with one of league’s top defenses, and a reliable kicker in Chase McLaughlin, who helped put the game our of reach with two field goals of 53 and 48 yards, there are some questions that do need to be answered about Mayfield and whether or not he is THE guy in Cleveland.
One off-game isn’t enough to judge Mayfield, and whether or not he is worthy of a contract extension, but with some of his less than stellar play Sunday afternoon, you have to begin to wonder why he hasn’t been signed long-term.
Bottom line: A win is a win, but if both the Browns and Mayfield are to take the franchise to the next level, the biggest issue possibly holding both back may be right under their own nose.