Game Balls: 4 standouts who helped lead the Browns to a Week 4 victory

Three key players and one key group helped the Browns grind to a low-scoring victory 

The Browns won, 14-7, on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, which means it's time to dish out a round of game balls to those who helped the Browns advance to 3-1 on the season.

CB Greedy Williams

It would've been understandable if Williams, a third-year cornerback, showed a bit of rust in his first start since 2019. 

He was in line for his biggest workload in nearly two years following an injury to first-round rookie CB Greg Newsome II (calf), who was ruled out earlier in the week. Williams was out all of last season with a shoulder injury and had primarily played in a special teams role before the Browns announced he'd be their Week 4 starter.

He was also going against Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, one of the best receiving duos in the league.

But Williams didn't show any weakness at all. 

Better yet, he was one of the best Browns players, period.

He created one of the top moments of the season when he recorded his first career interception off Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins late in the fourth quarter. The pass was a deep ball attempt to Thielen, and he matched his speed across the entire route and couldn't have been in a better position to intercept the pass, which was also Cousins' first interception of the year. 

Williams said he could barely sleep the night before. His mind was too busy visualizing making big plays — just like that one.

"I slept on it all night," he said. "I was just waiting around for my time to go and thinking about the plays of the game. Then the play came the way I saw it."

Williams, a 2019 second-round pick, played a major role in holding Jefferson to just 51 more yards after he totaled 33 yards on four catches in the Vikings' opening — and only — touchdown drive. Thielen, meanwhile, was limited to just 46 yards on three catches.

Williams wasn't just good. He wasn't just great, either.

He was superb.

"He's been through a lot," coach Kevin Stefanski said. "Last year was not easy on the young man and he kept coming back at it, grinding in the training room. And then finally got out there. And I just think you're seeing a kid get better and better."

Check out the best photos from the Browns win over the Vikings yesterday by the Browns photo team

CB Denzel Ward

The other cornerback who shut down the Vikings' passing game deserves a game ball, too.

Ward was outstanding in several high-leverage situations against Thielen and Jefferson. His first big sequence came by way of two back-to-back incompletions against Thielen on third and fourth down in the first half. Then, on the Vikings' final drive, he swatted away a deep ball to Jefferson in one-on-one coverage. If Ward mistimed his jump, the pass might've led to a game-tying touchdown.

Oh, and don't forget about Ward's half-sack, which was completed with the help of Myles Garrett. The half-sack was Ward's first career tally in that category.

K Chase McLaughlin

McLaughlin has appeared on all three of our "Game Balls" lists following wins this season, and he's certainly worthy of being on it again for Week 4.

He converted on each of his two field-goal attempts — one from 48 yards and another from 53 — and the Browns' lone extra-point attempt to uphold his perfect start to the season. He's one of six NFL kickers to not miss a field goal this season and one of five NFL kickers to not miss a field goal or PAT.

It's once again worth a reminder that McLaughlin was rostered on eight different NFL teams in the last three years before he arrived in Cleveland. Every kick has added another layer of confidence both from himself, his coaches and Cleveland, which has shuffled through several kickers ever since Phil Dawson departed the Browns after 13 seasons.

The D-Line

Stefanski has been effusive in his praise for this group in the 24 hours since the game ended. 

How could he not? They applied seven quarterback hits on Cousins and barraged him with pressure all game. Cousins was sacked twice, which is a great number considering he had only been sacked five times through the first three games and had excelled at spending little time holding onto the ball in the pocket.

"They affected the game and really played lights out," Stefanski said. " I think you are seeing the fruits of the labor of that defensive line and what they're doing in practice. I could probably cite you a bunch of other examples because guys are playing at a high level."

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