The Browns won, 13-3, over the Bengals on Saturday at FirstEnergy Stadium, and we're dishing out a round of game balls to those who helped Cleveland pick up its sixth win of the season.
QB Deshaun Watson
Watson's stats weren't anything extraordinary — he completed 18 of his 28 pass attempts for 161 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions — but his performance was enough to help the Browns secure the points they needed on a frigid, windy and snowy evening by the lake.
That's all the Browns can really ask of their quarterback in that type of game setting, and the fact that Watson was able to deliver that in his third start of the season and first in Cleveland bodes well for his future with the Browns. Watson didn't turn the ball over or make any game-changing mistakes, which was a big step forward for him after throwing an interception in each of his first two starts this season.
The one drive that mattered most was the 12-play, 76-yard touchdown drive that followed an interception from CB Denzel Ward. Watson completed five of eight pass attempts on the drive and connected with WR Amari Cooper twice for gains of 16 and 28 yards to push deep into Ravens territory. The drive ended when Watson helped execute a perfect, quick pass play to WR Donovan Peoples-Jones for a 3-yard touchdown.
The score was the Browns' only trip to the end zone in the game, but it was all the Browns needed to stay ahead.
"He was seeing it very clearly," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "I thought, for the most part, we protected really well. I thought he was very poised and making good decisions. There are always plays that I know he can be better, I can be better, we can design better plays and all of those types of things, but I know I continue to see a guy who is just getting better and better."
DT Jordan Elliott
All-Pro Ravens K Justin Tucker missed two field goals in a game for the first time since 2018, and the second miss was dealt by the hand of DT Jordan Elliott.
Elliott reached up on a 50-yard attempt by Tucker in the fourth quarter and denied the ball from crossing the line of scrimmage, which preserved the Browns' 13-3 lead.
"It was more that I was able to squeeze through the gap between the long snapper and the guard and tried to flip me, giving me more elevation to get my hand on it," Elliott said. "It's cool to block him, but it's about helping the team get the win, and that is the biggest thing."
Myles Garrett had a fun way of explaining his view of the block.
"At first, I thought he had bunnies," he said. "I thought he jumped up and got it. Then I saw he got lifted up like he was a ballerina or something. He went up there and almost palmed it with that big ol' hand of his. That was a hell of a play."
The Browns celebrate after a win over the Baltimore Ravens on December 17, 2022 at FirstEnergy Stadium.
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
Peoples-Jones touchdown was all the Browns needed to build a comfortable two-possession gap on the scoreboard. He ran a nifty route on the play, too, after starting the play to the left of Watson in the backfield and then sprinting to the left after the ball was snapped.
When Watson looked his way, Peoples-Jones sensed defenders closing in behind him and changed direction while the ball was still in the air to find a seam and cross the goal-line.
"Once I gave them to him, he made that play, the defense overran it and he got into the end zone," Watson said. "It was a great play by DPJ, a great route and me just pitch and catch and keep giving him the ball and opportunities."
The touchdown was Peoples-Jones' second in a year that should be considered a breakout season. With three games left, Peoples-Jones sits at 782 receiving yards — he's 218 away from topping 1,000 yards — and has established a great rapport with Watson. He's caught 15 of 19 targets from Watson in the last three games for 189 yards, 114 of which came in his first-career 100-yard performance last week.
CB Denzel Ward
Ward's interception changed the game and provided the Browns with some energy after a slow first half where only nine combined points were scored.
Not only did Ward's pick provide the Browns with their sixth turnover in the last three games, but it also put an abrupt end to a threatening Ravens drive. Baltimore was at Cleveland's 15-yard line when QB Tyler Huntley tried to squeeze a pass to DeSean Jackson, but Ward closed in quickly and snagged it.
"There was man coverage on that one," he said. "The guys put good pressure on the quarterback. I was able to drive on it and get my hands on it."
The interception was Ward's second of the season and sealed his fifth-straight season with multiple interceptions since he was drafted by the Browns with the fourth overall pick in 2018.
RB Nick Chubb
With 99 rushing yards on 21 attempts, Chubb was oh-so-close to his seventh 100-yard rushing game this season. We still have a game ball ready for him, though, because putting up 99 yards was no easy task against a Ravens defense that ranked second in the league against the run prior to this week.
Chubb's performance helped the Browns total 143 total rushing yards against the Ravens, which is the second-highest total the Ravens have allowed all season. They didn't allow a team to top 100 rushing yards in their last six games, but that streak stopped with Chubb.