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Clutch Players of the Game

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Clutch Performers: 3 standouts who helped the Browns beat the Cardinals

Amari Cooper, Denzel Ward and Dalvin Tomlinson earned our clutch players of the game


The Browns, from start to finish, dominated their Week 9 match against the Cardinals. Cleveland shut out Arizona 27-0 – their first shutout since 2007. 

 As a result, it's time to recognize three players who contributed with clutch performances.

WR Amari Cooper

WR Amari Cooper delivered another impressive performance Sunday, as he caught five catches for 139 yards and scored a touchdown. He now has three games with over 100 receiving yards this season.

Cooper caught his second touchdown of the season after QB Deshaun Watson's 11-yard pass deflected off a Cardinals' defender's helmet for the Browns' first touchdown of the game. He had a 59-yard reception in the first quarter – his longest reception of the season – and another 49-yard reception in the fourth to set the Browns up for a touchdown.

Watson talked about the strategy of connecting with Cooper on the 49-yard reception.

"Yeah, we just saw a look that was their kind of pressure of the day or kind of look of the day on third down, let's try to double two," Watson said. "And they've been doing it all game and we had a couple of opportunities that I missed. Marquise (Goodwin) down the middle one time, I think another time where I flipped it, flipped the protection, they bluffed out. And then the second time they brought it, I didn't get to flip it because the clock was going."

So, in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals had two defenders on Cooper. He ran a double move and go route, which resulted in a 49-yard gain.

"Amari gets a ton of attention," HC Kevin Stefanski said. "The big pass again that we drew up in the dirt. They drew up in the dirt. I called it. But that was them seeing something, and that was Amari getting doubled. I mean, he ran right through a double team, so he gets a ton of attention."

Check out photos of the Browns against the Cardinals in Week 9

CB Denzel Ward

CB Denzel Ward performed excellently in Sunday's game, registering three tackles, two pass deflections and an interception. 

Ward managed to shut down the Cardinals WR Marquise Brown, who only made five catches for 24 yards. During the game, Ward also secured his second interception of the season while guarding Brown. The interception occurred in the second quarter when the Cardinals QB Clayton Tune attempted to connect with Brown on a slant route. Ward was in zone coverage and intercepted the pass, keeping his eyes fixed on Brown throughout the play.

"I take every challenge personally," Ward said. "This week, the game plan was for me to follow Brown, so I took it personally. The goal was to take him away to help the team come out with the win."

With his interception, Ward is one of the only two players in the NFL, alongside Denver's Justin Simmons, to have recorded at least two interceptions every season since 2018. Since his selection as a first-round pick by the Browns in 2018, Ward has recorded 15 career interceptions.

DT Dalvin Tomlinson

On Sunday, DT Dalvin Tomlinson increased his season sack total to 3.0 with a standout performance. Entering Sunday, Tomlinson only had 0.5 sacks on the season, but his impact showed on the field rather than on the stat sheet.

Against the Cardinals, he had his best game from a stats standpoint when he sacked Tune 2.5 times. 

Tomlinson made three crucial sacks during Sunday's game, each resulting in a third-down stop for the Browns. The first occurred late in the second quarter on a third-and-19, which halted the Cardinals' final drive of the half. The second sack occurred on Arizona's first drive of the fourth quarter on a third-and-7, right after DE Myles Garrett's sack. Lastly, Tomlinson split the final sack with S Grant Delpit on the very next drive on third-and-9, resulting in a loss of three yards.

This is Tomlinson's first multi-sack game in his seven-year NFL career. He set a new career-high with 2.5 sacks in a game, and he has 16.0 total career sacks.

"He's played relentlessly, came off the football, was aggressive," Stefanski said. "And then when you're rushing the passer, when you got a bunch of guys that are relentless to the football, sometimes just beating your guy is going to find your way to the quarterback."

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