The Browns defeated the previously undefeated 49ers 19-17 on Sunday, earning their third win of the season. As a result, it's time to recognize the players who contributed with clutch performances.
WR Amari Cooper
WR Amari Cooper has been one of the most consistent skill player on the offense this season for the Browns. He leads the team in yards, catches, and is the only wideout to score a touchdown.
On Sunday, Cooper caught four passes for 108 yards. He grabbed his longest reception in the second quarter at the 7:45 mark when he juked DB Deommodore Lenoir at the line of scrimmage, causing him to fall, then ran for 58 yards. It was his longest reception of the season.
Even though Cooper's longest reception was good, he had a better one in the third quarter. With 14:04 left in the quarter, Cooper ran a fly route on the right side on third-and-7. QB P.J. Walker threw the ball up to Cooper, who mossed CB Charvarius Ward for a gain of 26 yards.
"A lot of people don't get to see me do that, that often," Cooper said. "So, they mistake it for me not being able to do it. That's been a theory since I came out of college because generally, I try to get wide open. So, I'm not often in that position but I have been a receiver since I was a kid and that is something I've always worked on, so it was really like a typical catch for me."
The Browns celebrate after a win over the San Francisco 49ers on October 15, 2023 at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
RB Jerome Ford
RB Jerome Ford had his best game Sunday since Week 2 when RB Nick Chubb was carted off with a knee injury. Ford rushed for 84 yards on 17 attempts. Even more impressive, he averaged 4.9 yards per carry. He showed great vision, hitting the open holes and reading what the 49ers defense was doing.
Ford's biggest moments came in the fourth quarter as the Browns were down 17-16. The first play came at the 2:41 mark when he received a handoff, gained 14 yards and ran out of bounds. This play got the offense moving after having three straight incompletions.
The next play came at the 2:22 mark, where Ford took the handoff up the middle and followed his blockers for a gain of 22 yards. This run put the Browns at the 49ers 14-yard line that set up K Dustin Hopkins to make a 29-yard field goal that ultimately would win the game for the Browns.
"On my 22-yard run, I saw a simple "trap" that we have been practicing for all week," Ford said. "We been seeing the "trap" working against their defense on film and used it today. That was a great play call by coach. As soon as he called it, I knew what to do with it."
K Dustin Hopkins
Before the game, a burning question was about how crucial K Dustin Hopkins success would be in Sunday's matchup. The Browns would need him more than ever, playing against the undefeated 49ers.
Hopkins missed his first kick of the day from 47 yards in the first quarter. However, Hopkins didn't let it phrase him going forward.
Hopkins made his second kick of the day with 11:13 left in the third quarter from 42 yards to tie the game at 10. His next kick came at the 3:03 mark in the third quarter when he made a 46-yard field goal, which gave the Browns a 13-10 lead – their first lead of the game.
His biggest kicks came in the fourth quarter, where he made two that helped the Browns win the game. With 3:26 left in the game, Hopkins hit a 50-yard field goal to cut the 49ers lead to 17-16. His final kick was a 26-yard field goal at 1:43 left that turned out to be the game-winner.
"Obviously, on the sidelines, you feel that energy," Hopkins said. "People are excited and, in my mind, I'm just going through my same keys of what I need to do to make the kick. I'm not celebrating, thinking about what I'm going to do after the game or anything. I'm just thinking about what I need to do to be successful."