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Browns overcome slow start to top Giants

CLEVELAND — If they're keeping score, then coach Hue Jackson wants the Browns to win.

That approach served them well in their second preseason game, defeating the Giants, 10-6, Monday night at FirstEnergy Stadium.

In a game largely dominated by defense, the Browns overcame a slow start with a swarming defense that kept New York's offense — headlined by Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., who left with an ankle injury — in check.

With the win, the Browns move to 2-0 and travel to Tampa Bay on Saturday night.

The game's turning point came when veteran cornerback Jason McCourty stripped Giants receiver Sterling Shepard shortly before halftime. Five plays later, rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer scored on a 1-yard keeper, giving the Browns a lead they would not relinquish.

Kizer — the second-round draft pick from Notre Dame — completed 8-of-13 throws for 74 yards and rushed five times for 35 yards and a touchdown.

His veteran counterpart Brock Osweiler — who started for the second straight game in the team's ongoing quarterback competition — was 6-of-8 for 25 yards and an interception (a tipped pass caught by Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul) through two series.

But this night was all about Cleveland's defense. The Browns held New York to 212 total yards, forced two turnovers —  including a goal-line interception by second-year cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun in the fourth quarter — and allowed just three of 12 conversions on third down.

The Browns play the New York Giants in Week 2 of the 2017 preseason.

This being the preseason, several key players did not suit up Monday. Among them were running back Isaiah Crowell (groin), left tackle Joe Thomas (not injury related), left guard Joel Bitonio (knee), and Danny Shelton (knee). 

In Crowell's absence, Duke Johnson Jr. ran nine times of 28 yards while rookie Matt Dayes — who starred in N.C. State's run and pass games — caught five balls for 29 yards.

After a scoreless first quarter that watched both teams combine for 70 yards, kicker Mike Nugent made a 38-yard field goal to give the Giants a 3-0 lead early in the second period.

To be certain, Cleveland's defense was all over the field in the first half; they gave up 97 yards, forced three punts, two sacks and a turnover in five series.

The Browns offense — which finished with less than 250 total yards — experienced similar struggles until McCourty's takeaway turned the game's momentum.

When that happened, Cleveland made quick work of a short field as Kizer engineered a five-play, 28-yard drive capped by his own keeper. ​

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