The Browns defeated the Bengals, 32-13, on Monday at FirstEnergy Stadium, which means it's to dish out a round of game balls to those who helped Cleveland pick up its third win of the season.
Game Ball No. 1: CB A.J. Green
The dominant performance all started with Green, who set the tone when he caught a tipped pass for an interception on the Bengals' first drive of the game.
Green halted what appeared to be a promising opening drive by the Bengals to start the game. QB Joe Burrow marched their offense down into Browns territory with completions of 14 and 26 yards on third down to move Cincinnati to Cleveland's 27.
But then Myles Garrett tipped a pass to Bengals WR Tee Higgins, who tipped the ball again and into Green's hands.
"Joe Woods with a great call," Green said. "Myles with a great deflection. I just had to end up with the ball at that point."
The interception was the first of two takeaways the Browns had against Burrow in the first half, with the other being a strip by LB Sione Takitaki and fumble recovery from DT Tommy Togiai. The Browns had six pass breakups against Burrow, which is impressive considering they were without Pro Bowl CB Denzel Ward, who missed his third game due to a concussion.
Ward's absence was why Green was in the game, and his interception was an example of just how deep the depth is at cornerback
"I really believe A.J. can be a starter on any team in this league," CB Greg Newsome said. "To have a guy like him ready to replace certain guys, it's crucial for us. We know he was going to do that. We know what he was capable of. He was great today."
Game Ball No. 2: QB Jacoby Brissett
Brissett turned in his best performance of the season, completing 17 of his 22 pass attempts for a season-best 278 yards and 133.7 passer rating.
Brissett was in control from the start and rarely made a mistake, largely because WRs Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones were open all evening. Brissett made plays happen with his legs, too, the biggest of which being a 3-yard touchdown scramble where he beat a Bengals defender to the pylon.
During the run, Brissett said he was thinking about the mistake he made in a similar red zone situation in Week 5 against the Chargers. Brissett scrambled to his right and attempted to squeeze a pass into coverage rather than trying to run it in. The ball was intercepted, spoiling a chance for the Browns to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
"I've been beating myself up about that a lot just because that has been like sitting on my heart," he said. "I always told myself if I ever get that opportunity again, I'm going to make the right decision.
"I think I half made the right decision — I reached the ball out on second down, which is stupid. It was one of those where I was like, 'Man, I have to take it.'"
The risk was worth it.
Game Ball No. 3: WR Amari Cooper
Brissett wasn't the only player who had his best showing of the season.
Cooper did, too. With five catches for a season-high 131 yards, Cooper was the Browns' most productive skill position player and was on the same page with Brissett all game.
No play showcased that more than his 53-yard completion in the fourth quarter, which happened while he was double-covered. Brissett threw him the ball anyway, and Cooper outpaced both defenders once the ball was in the air and used excellent body control to work back toward it to complete the diving catch.
"I know I was double-covered but I know Jacoby likes to get the ball downfield," Cooper said. "I still kind of knew he would throw it."
Cooper also caught a perfect 4-yard lob pass from Brissett in the third quarter to put the Browns up 25-0 and officially turn the game into a blowout.
Game Ball No. 4: Sione Takitaki
Brissett and Cooper each had season-best performances. On the defense, Takitaki had the best performance of his career.
With a career-best and team-leading 13 tackles, Takitaki was a major contributor in shutting down the Bengals' run game and keeping the middle of the defense clear. His strip on Burrow was his biggest play of the night, but his most important contributions arguably showed most against the run — Cincinnati didn't have a rushing play for over seven yards.
"We had a good game plan that our coaches put together," he said. "When you lose so many games like that, everybody just comes together to get a win."
Game Ball No. 5: RB Nick Chubb
Chubb is basically a lock for a game ball whenever the Browns secure a win, and he was much-deserving of one again after topping 100 rushing yards for the fifth time this season — and 27th time in his career.
His most exciting play of the night was when he took a direct snap from the 3-yard line and followed the middle of the offensive line into the end zone. Brissett motioned outside as Chubb stepped into the shotgun spot behind C Ethan Pocic, and by the time the ball reached his hands, the O-line had already won their battles.
"He's a special player, a special person," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "Great leadership throughout the week. Runs so hard."
Game Ball No. 6: DE Myles Garrett
The Browns defense has appeared to show considerable progress the last two weeks, and the charge has unsurprisingly been led by Garrett, who totaled 1.5 sacks Monday and has 2.5 in the last two games.
In addition to the sack and pass deflection that led to Green's interception, Garrett also had four QB hits. He was around Burrow all game, which has been the norm for Garrett when he's gone against Burrow the last three years — he has six sacks against him in his four starts against the Browns, and the Browns have won all of them.
"He is one of those guys who I was talking about who we feed off of. He obviously is a tone-setter for us," Brissett said. "We expect him to set the tone for us. He will come up and tell you that he fed off of a lot of those other guys.
The Browns celebrate after a win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football on October 31, 2022 at FirstEnergy Stadium.