In Stefanski’s return, Browns defense dominates Vikings 14-7
MINNEAPOLIS, (AP) — Kevin Stefanski has a win over his Minnesota team to mark the beginning of his second season.
The Browns have finally started to rise behind their young leader.
Myles Garrett and the defense produced another dominant performance, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt kept the ball moving on the ground, and the Browns beat the Vikings 14-7 on Sunday.
” That was the game’s purpose today. It might be completely different next week, and we have to be ready to do it to win in any which way,” said Stefanski, who spent 14 seasons as an assistant with the Vikings working his way up the staff.
Garrett was responsible for one-half the two sacks in Cleveland and four hits on Kirk Cousins. Greedy Williams was the first player to intercept Minnesota quarterback . The Browns (3-1) leaned on their two-pronged rush attack to control the ball, winning an ugly game. “It was pretty sloppy to be honest, it won’t matter that much, but it got us the win,” Chubb stated.
Cousins hit Justin Jefferson for a touchdown pass to cap a commanding opening drive by the Vikings (1-3), who took possession 11 more times without scoring or even trying a field goal. The furthest they came was the 26-yard line, where they had one final play to try to tie the game. Cousins ran into the end zone and the ball was incomplete.
“They did a good job to make it a tough day for us,” said Cousins, who was 6 for 6 on the first drive but 14 for 32 after that to finish with 203 yards.
Chubb had 21 carries for 100 yards and Hunt ran 14 times for 69 yards and a touchdown to help offset a rather rocky game for Baker Mayfield, who was under plenty of pressure himself and went just 15 for 33 for 155 yards.
” There were a lot of throws that I missed, Mayfield stated. “Situationally you get into running and I don’t get a few throws for a while. That’s when you lose your rhythm.” The Vikings didn’t notice the return of Dalvin Cook after an ankle injury. They gave Alexander Mattison lots of play and took it easy on Cook. Cousins failed to make enough of the quick throws made by the Vikings to reduce the pressure on Garrett, JadeveonClowney, and the rest of the Browns’ formidable front. Minnesota’s second drive ended with Minnesota’s first, third-and-3 touchdown by Takkarist McKinley.
” Those two No. “Those two No. 1 draft picks were an issue today on our guys,” Mike Zimmer, Vikings coach, said. He was referring to Garrett and Clowney.
Just when the Vikings appeared to find their breakthrough, a 37-yard completion to Jefferson on third-and-12 from their own 27 midway through the third quarter, tight end Tyler Conklin was called for holding in a daunting one-on-one blocking matchup against Garrett.
” Jefferson expressed his appreciation for Garrett and said that he understood the flag. “I understood it.”
Stefanski kept the offense on the field on fourth down twice in the first half, as has been his tendency. Mayfield was sacked by Everson Griffen for an 11-yard loss on fourth-and-4 from the 6, stopping Cleveland’s first drive cold.
Mayfield’s fourth-and-goal pass from the 2 with 1: 26 left before halftime was off target, but linebacker Eric Kendricks was called for holding to give the Browns a fresh set of downs. Hunt ran across the goal line on Hunt’s sixth snap from within the 3-yard line. After Zimmer attempted to go for it on fourth and 6, Cousins failed with Adam Thielen. That was the start of that drive at Cleveland 36.
The game then changed in an unusual way. Former Browns defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson called a timeout that the Vikings didn’t have in a disheveled moment before the extra point attempt. On a Mayfield pass to Andy Janovich, the Browns took a baseball-like 8-7 lead.
“I wish we scored more when we possessed that ball,” Stefanski said, “But to keep that offense on the sideline was a big part.”
Chase McLaughlin made two critical field goals, a 53-yarder with 6: 16 to go and a 48-yarder with 2 seconds remaining in the first half. That one was made possible by a 33-yard romp on third-and-20 by Hunt that caught the Vikings off guard when they were clearly expecting a long pass.
“They called a good play,” Griffen said, “and they hit us good.”
Browns: SS Ronnie Harrison Jr. left the game in the first quarter with a concussion and did not return. LT Jedrick Wills Jr. suffered an ankle injury during the third quarter. He didn’t return. James Hudson III, a rookie, was called for a false starting on fourth-and-1 at Minnesota . The Browns were forced to punt instead.
Vikings – CB Bashaud Breeland (illness in the first quarter) and D Michael Pierce (elbow in the second quarter) both left the game and didn’t return.
UP Browns next Sunday.
Vikings will host the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
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