Browns Even Record At 1-1 With Prime-Time Win Against Depleted Jets

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  1. Time to exhale: The pressure was on the Browns to avoid an 0-2 start, and they faced it down in their first Monday Night Football win since 2008, 23-3 over a much-depleted New York Jets team, giving Freddie Kitchens his first coaching victory. The star of the show was Odell Beckham Jr. Did you expect anything less in Beckham’s return to MetLife Stadium after he called out Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for dirty coaching during the week? Beckham dazzled the disgruntled Jets fans with a spectacular one-hand grab for 34 yards to set up a field goal on the Browns’ opening drive. In the third quarter, Beckham brought the house down by turning a 12-yard pass over the middle from Baker Mayfield into an 89-yard touchdown play. Beckham’s acceleration with the ball was breath-taking as he turned the jets on the Jets’ defenders. Beckham finished with six catches on nine targets for 161 yards and his first Browns touchdown.

  2. Odell who?: Beckham made the night his own from the beginning. In pre-game warmups, he wore a white watch – defying league uniform code -- along with a purple sleeve on his left arm, purple socks and gold cleats. He made an apparel change in the locker room to comply with league code. But Beckham did run afoul of league rules by wearing a gold-tinted visor. Officials had Beckham removed for one play while the visor was switched to a clear one. Beckham and Kitchens were a bit miffed about it all. All was forgotten by the end of Beckham’s show.

  3. Fired up: One of the overlooked angles to the Williams dynamic was that the Browns’ defense would be pumped up to feast on an inept Jets offense in front of their former coordinator. That certainly looked to be the case with defensive end Myles Garrett, who claimed in an offseason national article that Williams restricted Garrett’s growth for two years by limiting him to two pass-rush moves. Garrett produced three sacks – the first Browns player to record a hat trick since Paul Kruger in 2014. He also was whistled for two roughing-the-passer penalties, and the second one knocked Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian out of the game with 7:44 left in the second quarter. Siemian looked to suffer a serious injury when his left ankle caught in the turf and Garrett’s full body force fell on him. At halftime, Ross Tucker, who reported from the sideline for the national radio broadcast, Tweeted that Kitchens was “fired up” about Garrett’s penalties, calling them a “form of selfishness.” The Jets had little chance with Siemian, who was subbing for starter Sam Darnold (mononucleosis). They had zero chance with replacement Luke Falk, who was making his first NFL appearance after being recalled from the practice squad this week.

  4. The GW effect: Mayfield was able to stay out of harm’s way, but Williams’ defense made it hard on him. In the first half, Mayfield was 11 of 23 for 162 yards, no TD and a passer rating of 71.3. He was sacked once and had a few passes batted by the Jets defensive line. Mayfield did make a few key throws, however – a picture-perfect drop in the bucket on Beckham's one-hand grab; a 21-yarder to Damion Ratley in the middle of the field to convert third-and-12; and a 25-yard completion to Taywan Taylor on third-and-20 to prolong a field-goal drive in the closing seconds of the first half. Mayfield’s final numbers were inflated by Beckham’s big play and the Jets wearing down. He was intercepted in the fourth quarter by cornerback Darryl Roberts on a pass for Beckham deflected by Roberts. Mayfield finished 19 of 35 for 325 yards. He was sacked three times.

  5. Perfect: Kicker Austin Seibert said this week that he preferred playing on the road. He made good on that comment with a perfect night. Seibert connected on field goals of 23, 48 and 43 yards and made PATs after a 19-yard touchdown run by Nick Chubb and Beckham’s long play.

  6. More casualties: Receiver Rashard Higgins (knee) was not active for the game. Receiver Damon Ratley left the game with a possible head injury after making a 21-yard catch just before the two-minute warning of the first half. Also, tight end David Njoku left with a concussion midway through the first quarter. Taywan Taylor picked up the play time for the depleted receiving corps.

  7. Back to business: Defensive end Chris Smith returned to the team and elected to play five days after Petara Cordero, his girlfriend and mother of their newborn daughter, was killed in a car accident with Smith on the scene. Earlier in the day, Smith released a statement saying he played because “She would want me to keep doing what I love and stay strong. I play for her tonight. She is my why.” Smith served as game captain in the pre-game coin toss.

  8. He’s No. 2: The quiet debate about who’s the backup to Mayfield is over. Garrett Gilbert assumed the top backup role when veteran QB Drew Stanton was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury that acted up during the practice week. The Browns needed a roster spot to elevate running back Elijah McGuire from the practice squad to be the No. 3 back in place of inactive Dontrell Hilliard (concussion). Gilbert was being groomed to be the future No. 2 for next season, so this move merely expedites the process. Technically, Stanton could be eligible to be activated from IR after eight weeks. Meantime, Stanton will continue to fill his role as a veteran sage in the quarterback room.