The Browns emerged victorious Sunday with a 24-3 win against the Bengals in the season opener. As a result, it's time to award game balls to the players and coaches who contributed to Cleveland's first regular season win.
Game Ball No. 1: RB Nick Chubb
The Browns kicked off their season opener by having RB Nick Chubb lead the team out, waving the Jim Brown No. 32 flag and handing it off to Brown's son, Aris, in the Dawg Pound. The energy in the stadium was electric, and Chubb harnessed it to fuel his performance throughout the game.
Although he did not play a single snap in the preseason, as is usually the case, Chubb rushed for 106 yards on 18 carries. Chubb's longest run of the game came in the first quarter, when he received a handoff from QB Deshaun Watson and ran for 17 yards on third down.
This was his sixth game against Cincinnati where he achieved over 100 yards. His 106 yards on Sunday also marked Chubb's 30th game with 100+ rushing yards – the second most in the NFL since 2018.
Chubb's contributions didn't just come in the form of the run game. He also caught four passes for 21 yards.
"He's going to continue to plug, he's going to continue to run hard," QB Deshaun Watson said. "First game for him, so I know he was a little bit winded, but he kept doing what he needed to do, and he ended up getting over 100 yards. I wish he could have gotten the end zone a couple of times, but he's going to have more opportunities for us."
Game Ball No. 2: DE Myles Garrett
DE Myles Garrett picked off where he left off last season, causing havoc for opposing quarterbacks. Garrett, who had 16 sacks last season, picked up his first in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against QB Joe Burrow.
After the defense managed to stop the Bengals on another three-and-out, they decided to go for it on 4th-and-4 at the 31-yard line. Garrett, known for his clutch performances, got into the backfield, grabbed Burrow, and held on to him for the sack, resulting in a turnover on downs. Garrett also had four quarterback hurries.
According to Pro Football Focus, Garrett had four snaps rushing from inside linebacker, resulting in a Sack, Incomplete, Incomplete and Incomplete.
"It was a hell of a dress rehearsal with these guys," Garrett said. "They have a very explosive offense, and they have very skilled players in each position. So, this was a big one for us to see where we're at and we really showed what we can do and we set the bar high, and this is the standard we got to continue to improve from here."
Check out photos of the Browns against the Bengals in Week 1
Game Ball No. 3: DC Jim Schwartz
Jim Schwartz deserves a game ball after his defense performed at a very high level for four quarters against a division rival and one of the best offenses in the league.
During the first half of the game, the Bengals' offense managed to gain only 98 yards and three first downs. Burrow completed only 6 of his 14 passes for 36 yards. The Browns sacked Burrow twice and hit him ten times, preventing the Bengals from scoring a touchdown and limiting them to only three points. Throughout the game, Schwartz strategically utilized diverse players and formations to keep the Bengals from settling into a rhythm.
"They don't know who to block, who's dropping, who's coming," DL Ogbo Okoronkwo said. "It's a beautiful thing."
HC Kevin Stefanski did award Schwartz an actual game ball following the victory in the locker room to acknowledge the success of the defense.
"To hold that offense – and I have a ton of respect for that team and that offense and the whole team in general – but to hold them to 143 yards, two of 15 on third down was very impressive." Stefanski said. "So, very proud of Jim and his staff, the defensive staff and the players."