Devaroe Lawrence and Dontrell Hilliard capped their respectively productive offseasons with performances Thursday that bode well for when the games start to count.
Lawrence, who was deemed unblockable during a stretch of training camp, set the tone early with a sack and relentless pressure on Lions quarterback Tom Savage, and Hilliard, who was looking to kick the rust off from missing the previous two preseason games, compiled 75 yards of offense and a touchdown in two quarters of action. Ultimately, the Browns won, 20-16, in a Great Lakes Classic matchup that served as the final opening act before the 2019 regular season opener.
The win moved the Browns' preseason record to 3-1.
Quarterback Garrett Gilbert finished off a strong preseason by completing 13-of-24 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown in one half of action. He led the Browns with 403 passing yards and three touchdowns in the preseason.
The Browns offense was stagnant throughout the first half but came to life in the final two minutes of the second quarter. Gilbert completed three straight passes, including a 36-yarder to Derrick Willies, before finding Hilliard for a 7-yard touchdown to give the Browns a 10-2 halftime lead.
Rookie running back Trayone Gray provided some burst in the fourth quarter to help the Browns put the game away. He caught a short pass and ran for 19 yards before finding the end zone on a 2-yard run with 9:24 to play.
Lawrence, acquired this time last year in a trade with the Saints, picked up his team-best fourth sack of the preseason on the Browns' first defensive play of the game. He induced a penalty two plays later and added a quarterback hurry in less than two quarters of action.
Check out photos of the Detroit Lions at Cleveland Browns by team photographer Matt Starkey
The Browns are set at defensive tackle with starters Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson expected to receive the brunt of the work, but Lawrence has emerged as the kind of instant-energy depth the team has lacked at the position in recent years.
Cleveland's defense allowed just 40 yards in the first half.
"We did a good job of carrying over the performance from Tampa, but that is the expectation," Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. "We want that to become the norm, and I think they are buying into that."
Rookie kicker Austin Seibert put Cleveland on the board early in the second quarter with a 36-yard field goal and clinched the game in the fourth with his 33-yarder, his sixth consecutive make dating back to last week's game at Tampa. He also made both of his extra points in his second consecutive game of handling all of the kicking responsibilities.
Detroit picked up a safety in the second quarter and found the end zone in the third quarter on a 1-yard Josh Johnson touchdown run. The Lions cut into the lead late in the fourth quarter on an Isaac Nauta 20-yard touchdown catch.
The regular season kicks off Sept. 8, when the Browns host the Titans at FirstEnergy Stadium.