With the Browns down by double digits in Sunday's game, facing injuries and being on the road, they found a spark in an unlikely player. CB Mike Ford Jr. stepped in when needed and made multiple plays Sunday to help the Browns win 33-31.
Ford got an opportunity to play more once CB Denzel Ward went out with a neck injury in the second quarter. Ford – a sixth-year veteran who primarily plays on special teams – played 28 snaps on Sunday, which is a season-high. His defensive effort helped the Browns gain momentum.
Due to Ward's injury, the role of every cornerback in the Browns' room would change, as he plays over 85 percent of the snaps for the team in that position. For Ford, that meant going from the third-string corner to the second-string.
"It's a great feeling just being able to be out there and have my teammates back," Ford said. "That's my role on this team is to always be there and be able to have their backs. So, it was just great being able to have that opportunity and show those guys that I'm there for (them)."
With less than two minutes left in the first half, Ford made his presence felt by chasing down QB Lamar Jackson, who scrambled for a 9-yard run. Ford walloped Jackson, which led to the Ravens players jawing at him. The Ravens sideline wanted a penalty, but there was no flag because the quarterback wasn't committing to going out of bounds when hit.
"I wasn't worried," Ford said. "I felt as if he was still in bounds. I feel like he didn't get a clear foot out of bounds. He had not let up yet. When I was looking at it and I was coming down to make the hit, it's kind of as if he had lowered his shoulder on me a little bit. So, it was more so, like, I just felt like we're playing football."
Once everything settled down, Ford once again proved he belonged. On the next play, Jackson targeted WR Rashod Bateman for a pass. Ford followed by Bateman step for step, and Jackson unloaded a deep ball that fell flat. Ford turned his head around and intercepted the underthrown ball. Ford returned the interception for 10 yards. After the interception, Ford celebrated with his teammates by dancing.
"It just went in my hand," Ford said. "I was like, man, it's the first one. Let's celebrate a little bit. Then I seen Za'Darius (Smith) and he's like, 'give me the ball, give me the ball.' I'm like, all right, hand him the ball so that I can have that in the office and then just go celebrate with my team. Bring a little energy out there for the guys."
The interception was Ford's first of his career. He finished the game with two tackles and two pass deflections.
"He played really well for us," HC Kevin Stefanski said. "He battled. Played inside, played outside, played special teams, got that interception. Really pleased with the effort that Mike had."