Two of Baker Mayfield’s incompletions were described by Tony Romo as being “good” incompletions. Misses that only a Browns player really could’ve made a play for. Specifically the Donovan Peoples-Jones sideline attempt. Considering how many people, even in the Cleveland media, took Mayfield to task for Odell Beckham Sr.’s out-of-context video, a day like this was exactly what Cleveland and Mayfield needed.
The defense played as well as ever and they did so against a real offense, and not a stagnant Denver Broncos one. The problem that needs to be addressed and badly is the obnoxious number of penalties that the team continues to make.
In the first two defensive stands alone they had three off-sides. Malick McDowell got one for a late-hit on Joe Burrow, while Troy Hill got one for a pass interference call and we already mentioned Jedrick Wills’ offsides call.
Then you add on Sheldon Day and Jordan Elliot’s penalties and it’s clear why this team is leading the league in penalty yards. Though, admittedly, both Elliot and Day shouldn’t have had penalties thrown against them. Yet, when you develop the reputation the Browns have with regard to discipline, you aren’t going to get many calls thrown your way.
The Browns need to lock that stuff down, because yes, they obliterated the Bengals, but that doesn’t always mean that you’re going to be able to roll over a team and ignore these types of mistakes. In any closer game, the Browns may have lost due to the sheer amount of flags against them. You can’t keep blaming the refs, at a certain point the Browns have to start disciplining the players who are the most frequent offenders. Whether that’s with extra conditioning, bigger fines or just not playing them.
These are the types of issues that can cost a team an AFC title opportunity.