1. Myles Garrett puts an exclamation point on huge October
Myles Garrett's October is going to be hard to beat among all of the other AFC defensive players vying for Player of the Month.
Garrett picked up two more sacks in Sunday's win over the Bengals, one of which resulted in a fumble that was recovered by S Ronnie Harrison Jr. That gave Garrett six sacks for the month of October, a league-best nine on the season, and four forced fumbles on the year, which is tied for the most in the NFL. The Browns have won all four games in which Garrett has forced a turnover.
Cleveland's defense has needed every single one of them, as it's relied heavily on the NFL-best 14 turnovers it's forced while allowing an average of 380.3 yards per game. Garrett has single-handedly changed games, and he's doing it while drawing all sorts of extra attention from opposing offenses.
"At the end of the day, I have to just have a little bit more juice than the guy I am going against and have a better plan than what he is expecting of me and how he plans to block me," Garrett said. "I know it is a joint effort with them, whether it is chipping, sliding my way or whatever they have to do to get me off my game. I just have to be there, be disruptive, strike the quarterback and affect his timing, and if I don't get there, allow others to be freed up one on one or a free runner to get to the quarterback."
Garrett's list of accolades continues to grow. Among the most notable after Sunday's game:
- His streak of six games with at least one sack is a Browns record and the longest active streak in the league.
- Garrett's three multi-sack games this season lead the NFL
- Garrett's 39.5 sacks are the fourth-most in league history for a player in his first 44 games.
- With nine sacks through seven games, Garrett became just the second player in NFL history to do so in back to back seasons.
2. Higgins explains chemistry with Mayfield
Rashard Higgins and Baker Mayfield have a unique bond that dates back to the Browns' 2018 training camp. They forged a strong on-field relationship as members of the second-team offense, and it's carried over to the field in games that matter during the regular season.
That became even clearer Sunday when Higgins was tasked to do even more when Odell Beckham Jr. went down with a knee injury. The fifth-year pass-catcher responded with a career day, hauling in six catches for 110 yards — his first-ever 100-yard game. His two receptions on Cleveland's game-winning drive, including a 30-yarder that set up Mayfield's game-winning touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones, were truly difficult catches the Browns absolutely needed.
"It is just stepping up," Higgins said. "One of our brothers went down today, a sad moment. We hope he can come back soon, but we have to step up."
Asked about his bond with Mayfield, Higgins said it came down to simply "playing football" together.
"That is all I can really tell you," Higgins said. "We are playing football. He knows me, and I know him. There is nothing to say about that. It is wine poured in a cup – smooth."
3. No doubting JC Tretter's toughness
On the same play that ended Beckham's season, C JC Tretter looked to be in significant pain as he laid on the turf. Tretter received some medical attention, retreated to the sidelines but was back on the field for the next series.
Tretter didn't miss a snap — just like he's done every game since he joined the Browns in 2017.
"I went to go check on him, and he was in a lot of pain," G Joel Bitonio said. "I thought it was done for, but he finds a way to make it back onto the field. That is just what he does. He is tough, and he is prideful. He cares about his teammates, and he thinks being on the field is the best thing for his team. It is going to take a lot to get that guy off the field. It is impressive stuff, and it inspires me. I was ready to roll with him once he came back out."
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said he wasn't surprised to see Tretter respond the way he did.
"He's a tough competitor," Stefanski said. "He doesn't want to come out ever."