Browns defense dominates Bengals for 24-3 victory

Joe Burrow may have signed a lucrative contract extension before heading up the state to face the Browns in Week 1.

But now under the direction of coordinator Jim Schwartz, Cleveland’s defense got the best of Burrow and Cincinnati’s offense — giving the Browns a 24-3 victory in Week 1.

Things got so out of hand that head coach Zac Taylor pulled Burrow with 5:15 left in the fourth quarter, turning to backup Jake Browning for mop-up work.

The Browns effectively determined the outcome early in the fourth quarter. After Dustin Hopkins sent his third field goal through the uprights, Cleveland had a 16-3 lead. On the ensuing drive, Burrow threw two incomplete passes before finding tight end Irv Smith for a 6-yard gain to make it fourth-and-4.

But that’s when defensive end Myles Garrett burst through for his first sack of the day, twisting Burrow down for a 13-yard loss.

Starting with the ball on Cincinnati’s 18-yard line, the Browns took just three plays to get back into the end zone as Deshaun Watson tossed a 3-yard touchdown to Harrison Bryant. Watson then ran in a two-point conversion for a 24-3 lead.

The Bengals went three-and-out on their next possession and punted, putting up the proverbial white flag.

Burrow finished the day just 14-of-31 for 82 yards. Ja’Marr Chase had five receptions for 39 yards while Tee Higgins was shutout — no catches on eight targets.

Cincinnati finished with just six first downs and 142 total yards. They averaged 2.6 yards per play and were 2-of-15 on third down.

On the other side, Cleveland finished with 350 yards of offense, including 206 yards rushing. Nick Chubb led the way with 106 yards on 18 carries. Watson had five carries for 45 yards with a 13-yard touchdown late in the first half that gave Cleveland a 10-0 lead. Jerome Ford got plenty of carries as the teams ran out the clock, finishing with 36 yards on 15 attempts.

As a passer, Watson was 16-of-29 for 154 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

At 1-0, the Browns will take on the Steelers next week Monday night.

The 0-1 Bengals will host the Ravens next Sunday for their home opener.