CLEVELAND (WJW) — The 2023 season for the Cleveland Browns kicked off against the Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Stadium on a drizzly, gray Sunday afternoon. And man, did it turn out in the team’s favor.
After the smoke-filled entrance and flyover during the national anthem, the Browns and the Bengals began the first game of the season. No one scored right off the top.
WR Amari Cooper was hurt and walked off the field with seconds to go in the first quarter. And still the game remained scoreless.
Then in the start of the second quarter the Browns’ offense got close enough to the end zone to choose to make a field goal, and kicker Dustin Hopkins drilled in a 42-yarder. The score moved to 3-0, Browns up.
OT Jack Conklin got carted off the field with about 12 minutes left in the second quarter. He has a knee injury, the Browns said and he is not going to return to this game. Dawand Jones is taking his place.
At the 2-minute warning, it’s the Browns defense that continues to impress.
With 17 seconds in the second quarter, Deshaun Watson scores a 13-yard touchdown and Hopkins’ kick is good. The score stands Cleveland 10, Cincinnati 0 going into the half.
The Bengals came in hot starting out the third quarter but were only able to turn it into a field goal. The score is now 10-3, with the Browns still leading. Getting the ball back, Deshaun Watson threw an interception, giving the ball back to Cincy at midfield. Then the Bengal’s 50+ yard filed goal attempt was no good and the score stayed the same.
The Browns were not able to make it all the way into the end zone and instead Hopkins made a 34-yard field goal, and the Browns are up 13-3. Going into the fourth quarter the Browns were able to up their lead 16-3.
Then, with the team to keep Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow at bay, the Browns scored another touchdown in three plays and got the 2-point conversion. The score moved to 24-3.
At the 2-minute warning, the score remained the same and some Browns fans felt comfortable enough with the lead to start leaving the game. But that’s the score at the end of the season home opener: Browns 24, Bengals 3.
Check out photos from the game below:
Fans had high hopes with this game now underway as they get a look at Deshaun Watson in his first start for a Browns season opener.
On Friday Head Coach Kevin Stefanski said he expects a very excited and very loud stadium filled with Browns fans.
“Bring extra lozenges, Halls if you need them,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said Friday during Q&A with sports reporters. “We need our fans and they’ve been great over the course of time but we need them on Sunday. It’s an awesome challenge going up against Cincinnati. Very well coached,” he said.
Stefanski talked about if the Bengals pose a challenging pass rush.
“Their blitz package is good. They can drop eight, they can rush eight,” he said. “Their linebackers can blitz. I think their stunts and their games are very well-coached. So I think when you talk about their rush, I think it comes from a variety of different areas.”
The Browns had cornerback Denzel Ward available to play Sunday after he was cleared from concussion protocol Friday.
“So excited he (Denzel Ward) was able to get out of the concussion protocol safely and have a good week of practice. We know what’s at stake with their offensive attack, certainly with the guys that they have in the perimeter and in the slot. So it’s a big boost.”
Myles Garrett has 11 career sacks against the Bengals.
“They (Cincinnati Bengals) have a lot of great skill players that we’ve seen, and have the highest-paid player in the NFL, (Joe Burrow) so we got to try to keep him off the board as much as possible,” Garrett said.
Last season, the Browns went (1-1) against the Bengals. Cleveland finished the 2022 regular season season (7-9) while Cincinnati went (10-6).