Browns bounce back to demolish Titans with team effort | Jeff Schudel

Sep. 24—Inspiration goes only so far. The rest is up to the players, and on Sept. 24 the Browns proved "Win it for Nick" was more than just a slogan.

Deshaun Watson had his best game as a Browns quarterback and the smothering defense allowed a scant 94 yards in a complete 27-3 demolition of the Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The Browns' defense has allowed just one touchdown in 12 quarters. Opponents are 8-of-41 on third down for a miniscule 19.5 percent conversion rate.

Deshaun Watson said Nick Chubb looked him in the eye Saturday night at the team hotel and said, "I need it. Go get it for me." The #Browns delivered, 27-3 over Tennessee.

— Jeff Schudel (@jsproinsider) September 24, 2023

A second-quarter fumble charged to Elijah Moore was recovered by Titans safety Sean Murphy-Bunting and returned five yards to the Cleveland 17. The turnover led to Tennessee's only points, but the Titans were driven backward nine yards on the next three plays before Nick Folk kicked a 44-yard field goal.

The Browns sacked Ryan Tannehill five times. Myles Garrett had 3.5 of them, plus two other tackles, two additional quarterback hits and a forced fumble.

"Making plays for the team is what it's all about," Myles Garrett said after getting 3.5 sacks Sunday to help the #Browns beat the Titans, 27-3.

— Jeff Schudel (@jsproinsider) September 24, 2023

With every sack, with every forced punt, the cheers and shouts from the home crowd grew louder. The defense and crowd feed off each other.

"We love our fans," safety Grant Delpit said. "We have a big division game next week (vs. the Ravens) and we need them to come double time. We felt the energy today. We feed them off good plays and we're going to continue doing that."

The Browns are 2-1. So are the Ravens, who lost to the Colts in overtime, 22-19, on Sept. 24 in Baltimore.

Watson was under fire all week after playing poorly and turning the ball over three times in the 26-22 loss to the Steelers on Sept. 18. He was a different quarterback this time — 27 of 33 (81.8 percent) for 289 yards with one touchdown pass to Jerome Ford and another to Amari Cooper.

Watson shared an encounter he had with Nick Chubb on Sept. 23 in the team hotel where the Browns stayed the night before the game. Chubb suffered a season-ending knee injury in the game with the Steelers, but he was at the team facility in Berea throughout last week and at the hotel. Chubb is still part of the team. He just can't play.

"A lot of guys saw him in the training room and there was, of course, a little sadness and disappointment on his face, but at the same time you know, he looked every single one of us in our eyes," Watson said. "And yesterday I actually saw him and he told me, 'Go get it because I need it.' And not just for himself, but just for this team, this organization. So there was no doubt in our mind that we were going to come out here and play good."

Coach Kevin Stefanski said it would take a collective effort to make up for the loss of Chubb, and that is exactly how the Browns beat the Titans.

Seven Browns players carried the ball for a total of 78 yards. Pierre Strong led with 27 yards on six carries. Ford scored one touchdown on the ground to go with his receiving TD.

Cooper caught seven passes for 116 yards. One was a catch and run of 43 yards on a touchdown pass placed perfectly by Watson. He also drew two defensive holding penalties and one defensive pass interference flag.

Moore was targeted nine times and caught nine passes. The Browns dominated time of possession, 38:29 to 21:31. Everything worked.

"I'm just proud of that team," Stefanski said. "We talked about, this is a bounce-back week. And the look in their eyes on Tuesday told me they were going to bounce back and with losing a teammate like Nick, as we've talked about all week, to then come out and respond, not just today, but to respond in Berea on Wednesday with practice.

"They told me from the jump that this team was going to respond. So, I'm very proud of the effort there."

The Browns made life miserable for Tannehill because they neutralized Tennessee's best offensive weapon. Derrick Henry totaled 20 yards on 11 carries.

"Catch him before he gets going," Garrett said when asked how the defense stymied Henry so well. "Make him stop his feet, change angles.

"If he gets his feet going in one direction, he's a locomotive, so just try to get him a little bit off balance and make sure that he turns his shoulders to the sideline and goes east and west."

All is happy in Browns land, at least for the next six days.