In his final press conference of the week, Kevin Stefanski implored fans to help make life difficult for Bears QB Justin Fields.
On Sunday, Myles Garrett and the Browns defense gave them plenty of reasons to make it deafeningly loud at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Browns allowed a franchise-best 47 yards, racked up nine sacks and put the clamps on pretty much anything Chicago attempted to do behind its rookie starter. More than enough defense paired well with just enough offense on this day, and the Browns came away 26-6 winners.
"Some unbelievable individual efforts, but I thought the guys played sound, played together, ran to the ball and obviously did a nice job to hold that team to six points and 47 yards," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "We are a 2-1 football team. It was great to come in here and get a team win in front of our fans and then we will make some corrections tomorrow."
Garrett led Cleveland's defense with a franchise-record 4.5 sacks, breaking a record previously held by Andra Davis (4 in 2003). His teammates added 3.5 of their own, giving the Browns their most sacks in a game since 2015.
The Browns limited the Bears to just six first downs and 47 yards of offense on 42 plays. Chicago converted just one third down. Fields finished 6-of-20 for 68 yards.
"It is awesome seeing everybody getting off and making big plays," Garrett said. "It is just like when you are in high schools, everybody is balling and you feel like you can make a play at any time and you feel like you are the star. Everybody wants to feel like that on the field. We are picking for each other, we are working games with each other and helping each other make plays. That is how it is supposed to be. You are supposed to work in tandem, and that is what it looked like today."
Check out photos of players getting ready to face the Chicago Bears
Kareem Hunt powered the Browns offense with arguably the best game he's played in a Cleveland uniform. He touched the ball 16 times (six receptions, 10 carries) and piled up 155 yards, 29 of which coming on a highlight-reel touchdown run early in the fourth quarter that staked the Browns to a two-touchdown lead. Nick Chubb led the Browns with 84 yards on the ground, giving Cleveland 215 for the game.
Baker Mayfield dealt with Bears defenders in his face all game but weathered the storm and didn't make any costly mistakes. He finished 19-of-31 with 246 yards and a second-quarter touchdown pass to TE Austin Hooper that gave the Browns a lead they would not relinquish.
"We are continuing to get better and finding ways to win," Mayfield said. "There is never going to be a point where you feel like you have reached that graduation level and you have mastered the offensive system. You always want to try and improve. For us, we each have that mindset of not being college dropouts, continuing to get better and finding ways to win."
Odell Beckham Jr., playing in his first game since suffering a season-ending knee injury Week 7 of 2020, led Browns receivers with five catches for 77 yards.
K Chase McLaughlin came up huge for the Browns whenever their offense stalled against the vaunted Bears defense. McLaughlin made all four of his field goals, which included kicks from 28, 41, 52 and 57 yards.
"We would like to have more success on third downs and being able to get closer to finish in the red zone, high-red fringe area, but he was on point today," Mayfield said. "That is a great bailout when you are playing a team that is obviously very stiff on the defensive side of the ball. Being able to get three points on some of these drives is important. For him to kick like that, that is pretty special."
Hunt's touchdown run, his second of the season, with 14:46 to play effectively closed the door in a game that saw the Bears enter Browns territory on just two possessions.
From a statistical standpoint, Cleveland's offense completely dominated the Bears in Sunday's first half. The Browns outgained the Bears, 224-41, possessed the ball for 9 more minutes and picked up 17 first downs to Chicago's two. The Browns, though, couldn't punch it in the end zone until 19 seconds remained in the second quarter, when Hooper caught his first touchdown of the year to cap a 12-play, 89-yard possession.
The Browns saw their first two possessions end inside Chicago territory on fourth down with Mayfield getting sacked to close each failed drive. The third drive ended with some much-needed points, as McLaughlin connected on a 57-yard field goal to even the score, 3-3, early in the second quarter. McLaughlin's kick was the tied for the third-longest in team history and was the longest ever by a Browns kicker at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Browns defense made life miserable for Fields from the very start, bringing constant pressure and allowing minimal time to make throws in the pocket. Jadeveon Clowney and Garrett combined for a sack in the first quarter, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah picked up the first of his career in the second and Garrett added two more of his own to give him 2.5 for the half.
"When we started the game, honestly I felt like we came into the game and prepared right," Owusu-Koramoah said. "We prepared the right way all throughout the week. And when your opportunity meets, you have to face it and execute, and that is what we did."
The Browns added to their 10-3 halftime lead on their opening possession of the second half, a drive that was kept alive by a 26-yard Beckham reception on third down. McLaughlin made his second field goal of the game to extend the lead to 10.
The Bears sliced the lead to seven after a 48-yard pass interference penalty on John Johnson III put them deep in Browns territory. Cleveland's defense held from there, and the Bears opted for a short field on fourth-and-1.
It'd be the last time Chicago came anywhere close to adding to its side of the scoreboard.
"It was great, but what I would tell you is these guys practiced their tails off this week," Stefanski said. "In particular on Thursday, which is our 3rd down day, we were flying off the ball, executing the games. I really believe you take the practice field to the games. So I would tell you the guys were outstanding during the week and they showed up today."