CLEVELAND (AP/WJW) — Myles Garrett sacked quarterback Ryan Tannehill 3 1/2 times and fronted a Cleveland defense that limited Tennessee to 94 yards as the Browns rolled to a 27-3 win over the Titans on Sunday.
Six days after the Browns (2-1) lost star running back Nick Chubb to a season-ending knee injury in Pittsburgh, Garrett and Cleveland’s defense stepped up with a dominant performance that overwhelmed the Titans (1-2).
The Browns’ offense was solid, too, with Deshaun Watson having his best day since signing with Cleveland. He completed 27 of 33 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns, and his 43-yarder to Amari Cooper put the Browns up 27-3 in the fourth quarter.
Jerome Ford, who moved into Chubb’s starting spot, had two touchdowns — a 19-yard reception from Watson and a 3-yard run.
Overall, head coach Kevin Stefanski said he was proud of the way his guys played on both sides of the ball. And when asked about Garrett’s game, Stefanski had few words.
“I don’t know, I’m running out of things to say,” he told reporters. “Teams come in here and say, ‘don’t let 95 wreck your game,’ and he continues to do it.”
Tennessee has never had a worse day on offense.
It was the fewest yards for the Titans since they relocated from Houston in 1997. The previous low was 98 against Jacksonville in 2006.
The Browns held Tennessee All-Pro running back Derrick Henry to 20 yards on 11 carries, forced the Titans to punt seven times in nine possessions and held them to six first downs.
Tannehill was under siege all game. He was sacked five times, completed 13 of 25 passes for 104 yards and never got Tennessee’s offense moving.
Garrett set the tone from the start.
With the Titans driving for a possible score before halftime, Garrett sacked Tannehill on the final play of the half — a fitting finish for an attacking defense unleashed by first-year coordinator Jim Schwartz, who spent the past two seasons as an advisor with the Titans.
On Friday, Garrett conducted his weekly news conference while eating a sandwich wrap.
It was merely an appetizer.
Cleveland’s All-Pro end devoured the Titans, particularly left tackle Andre Dillard. On the last play of the half, Garrett sped around Dillard and was still being blocked when he grabbed and took down Tannehill.
Garrett’s sack effectively ended the game, but Ford helped end any doubts with his TD run in the third quarter that put the Browns up 20-3.
Watson’s TD pass to Ford came after Cleveland’s quarterback took a shot to the head from linebacker Arden Key, who was called for roughing the passer on the same play the Titans were penalized for pass interference.
Watson was checked by trainers but stayed in and connected four plays later with Ford.
When asked about the winning approach to Sunday’s game, Watson told reporters: “It was the energy of the team, the team that came in Tuesday and Wednesday. No sad faces, no complaints, no excuses, everyone wanted to bounce back.”
He also said it helped to have motivation from Nick Chubb himself.
“Chubb was around this week, too” Watson said. “Of course, a little sadness and disappointment on his face … but he looked every single one of us in the eyes and yesterday I saw him and he told me ‘Go get it, cuz I need it.’ Not just for himself, but for this team and for this organization. There was no doubt that we were going to come out here and play good.”
Stefanski also mentioned the team was playing with Chubb in mind and Kareem Hunt even showed up to the stadium with a Chubb No. 24 shirt. At the end of the day, the Browns won the team by 24 points.
The Browns had what should have been a touchdown taken away in the first half, when field judge Jeff Shears ruled Cooper stepped out of bounds after a catch.
However, Cooper, who may have gotten away with a push, never touched the Cleveland sideline.
The play is not reviewable, and the Browns settled for a 52-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins.
Browns: Host Baltimore next Sunday.