Denzel Ward continues to impress Browns with big plays: 'He's been huge for us this year'

Denzel Ward was a man of few words after another brilliant game in Sunday's overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens. 

The Browns rookie cornerback, after all, tends to let his play speak louder than words can. 

"He was everywhere," defensive end Myles Garrett said. "He had a game just like he did in the first game of the season, where he was ball hawking and on top of guys at all times."

Ward finished the afternoon with an interception on the goal line, three pass breakups and blocked a crucial field goal right before halftime. In a game that came down to the wire, his performance was quite literally a difference-maker for a Cleveland team that notched its first divisional victory in almost three years. 

While the former Ohio State standout and fourth overall pick might not say much about himself, his teammates and coaches have offered plenty of kind words.

"I challenged him this past week," said head coach Hue Jackson, who determined earlier in the week that Ward could use his game-changing speed and quickness to potentially block kicks. "Last week in Oakland, we couldn't get him around the corner to lay out. This guy was very talented in doing it at Ohio State. He said, 'Coach, I got you.' He went and made a play."

"He's a guy who continues to get better and make plays for us, huge plays," rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield added. "A turnover down in the red zone is big and then a blocked kick. When it comes down to it, we wouldn't have gone into overtime if he didn't block that kick."

"Denzel has been doing a great job as a rookie this year. He had another big-time interception in the low red zone at a time when we really needed it." linebacker Joe Schobert said. "To get that blocked field goal that saved the point, that really allowed us to go into overtime at a tie ball game was huge. 

"He's a great athlete, and he's a good kid. He's learning, just like all NFL rookies are learning, but he's doing it I think at an accelerated pace. He's been huge for us this year."

With Sunday's interception, Ward now leads the Browns with three this season and also recorded a forced fumble earlier this year against the Jets. Ask him about that, though, and he'll shrug off any praise, saying Cleveland's "coaches (are) putting me in great positions to make plays." 

Ward, who grew up in nearby Macedonia before starring with the Buckeyes, said he enjoys helping turn around his hometown team. 

"It's a lot of fun. Just doing what I love to do and what I dreamed of since I was a kid, especially for my hometown," he said.

"It's exciting, and we're going to try to keep getting wins."

Ward should continue to play a pivotal role in that mission. Sunday was another example of that.

"We've seen this in practice, and we have seen his potential," Garrett said.

"Now, he's living up to his abilities."

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