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4 turning points: Browns capitalize on momentum-swinging opportunities

Posted Aug 21, 2017

Cleveland moves to 2-0 in preseason with win over Giants

Analyzing four key moments in the Browns’ 10-6 preseason victory over the Giants ...

1. A 31-yard Jabrill Peppers punt return set up the Browns offense in prime position for their first offensive possession, but an untimely turnover prevented Cleveland from turning it into points.

Cleveland got as close as New York’s 21-yard line but quickly went into a reverse. A pass to Seth DeValve went for minus-2 yards and a Rod Johnson false start backed up the Browns to the 28. Facing a second-and-17, Brock Osweiler dropped back and tried to hit wide receiver Corey Coleman on a short pass to the flat. Pro Bowl defensive end Olivier Vernon batted the pass in the air and Jason Pierre-Paul snagged it for the interception.

“I took my five steps, I threw on time, it looked like Corey Coleman won on the outside on the route that he was running. It was just a great play by the defense,” Osweiler said. “Sometimes, unfortunately, they win. Those guys are very talented on the other side of the ball as well and I think one of their good players got a hand up and was able to tip the ball and make a great play for their time.”

2. Jason McCourty’s momentum-swinging play in the second quarter surely will be used as an example of the kind of tenacious play coordinator Gregg Williams expects from his defense.

The veteran cornerback stopped a quick screen to Sterling Shepard at the line of scrimmage and went right to work. McCourty ripped and ripped at the ball before it came loose and held onto it as he fell to the ground. Cleveland took over at the Giants’ 28 and scored its first touchdown a few plays later to take the lead.

“Our guys on defense are battling,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “Not that our guys on offense aren’t. I think our guys on offense are battling too, but I think our guys on defense are making plays, making stops and are doing things really well that helps our football team win.”

3. Myles Garrett was due.

The No. 1 pick flew around the edge against Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers over and over again, applying pressure to Eli Manning on a regular basis throughout the first quarter. Finally, as the first half came to a close, Garrett picked up his first official sack as a Brown, gobbling up Geno Smith for a 9-yard loss on the second to last play of the first half.

Not a bad way to end your second preseason game.

“That is what you look for,” Jackson said. “That is what he is here for is to tackle the quarterback and get people down to the ground. He did that tonight. He had a couple of good rushes, close a couple of times, and he will keep learning and growing from these experiences that he is having as well.”

4. It looked like a rookie moment.

Kizer was already trotting back to the sideline after a misguided throw landed in the arms of a Giants defensive back to put a sour end to the first drive of the second half. A flag, though, came to the rescue, as a defensive holding penalty negated the interception and gave the Browns new life at their own 34-yard line.

It took a whole bunch more plays, but the Browns ultimately capitalized with more points.

Over 7:37, the Browns went 68 yards on 15 plays. They didn’t gain anything more than 11 yards on the ensuing plays but the chains kept moving. Kizer got a first down with an 11-yard run and Matthew Dayes put the Browns in field goal range with an 11-yard reception. Another 8-yard catch by Dayes got Cleveland closer but the drive stalled when Kizer threw incomplete to running back Terrence Magee on third-and-3.

Rookie Zane Gonzalez nailed the 39-yard field goal to extend Cleveland’s night and end Kizer’s night on a relative high note.

“I am really proud of the situation we have been in toward the fourth quarter where we are holding onto leads rather than trying to come back at the last second,” Kizer said. “That is what it is going to take for us to be a winning football team in the regular season.”

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