Browns vs. Bears score, takeaways: Myles Garrett, Cleveland defense hound Justin Fields in first-career start
Cleveland will retain at least a share of the AFC North lead
The Cleveland Browns ended Sunday's game in victory formation against the Chicago Bears. The Browns outscored Chicago 16-3 in the second half to secure a 26-6 victory.
It was a long day for first-round pick Justin Fields, who was sacked nine times for 67 yards lost. Myles Garrett was responsible for 4.5 sacks. To Fields' credit, he did a good job of protecting the football despite heavy pressure. Fields finished completing 6 of 20 pass attempts for 68 yards. Chicago fumbled a kickoff but neither team turned the ball over.
On the other sideline, Baker Mayfield was less than crisp, but he did enough for his team to achieve victory. Odell Beckham Jr. had 77 yards on five receptions in his 2021 debut.
Why the Browns won
The defense set the tone for Cleveland. Chicago managed 47 total yards on 42 offensive plays. Fields was sacked nine times for 67 yards lost. Garrett was a beast with half of those sacks. It is difficult to do much better than that in the NFL. Coming into the game, the defense had recorded just three sacks.
Mayfield led the league in completion percentage coming into the game but he completed just 61.3 percent of Sunday's attempts. He missed some wide-open targets and left some points off the board. The run game gained steam in the second half, amassing 215 yards on 42 carries.
Why the Bears lost
The biggest play of the day was a 44-yard pass-interference call negating an interception by safety John Johnson III. The flag set Chicago up for one of their two field goals. Otherwise, the Bears were stifled on offense. No matter how good a defense plays, it is not going to be able to overcome such an anemic offensive outing.
Fields was not set up to succeed in his debut. The offensive line play was atrocious and Nagy could have made things easier on him from a play-calling perspective. Rookie quarterbacks are 0-5 in their first starts this season.
Mayfield led a touchdown drive capped by a 13-yard pass to Austin Hooper at the end of the first half. The Browns had spent a significant amount of time on Chicago's side of the field in the first half but two drives ended on fourth down and another with a field goal. Similar to a basketball player needing to see the ball go through the net to break a slump, the same purpose was served with Hooper's touchdown. They gained some much needed confidence going into the locker room.
Cleveland outscored the Bears 16-3 in the second half to pull away.
Play of the game
On the second play of the fourth quarter, Hunt broke two tackles and avoided a third attempt before mustering just enough energy to end a 29-yard carry with a touchdown. Nick Chubb had struggled to gain chunk yardage for most of the game and Hunt brought some much needed energy and playmaking ability. On that drive alone, he had a 23-yard reception and an additional 36 yards rushing.
He ended the game with 10 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown, as well as six receptions for 74 yards.
The Bears will play their first divisional game of the year in Week 4 against Detroit. They alternate home and away games for the rest of the season. Las Vegas awaits in Week 5.
Cleveland will hit the road each of the next two weeks with games against the Vikings and Chargers. Los Angeles is coming off a big win over the rival Chiefs.
Chase McLaughlin has now successfully converted from 52, 41 and 57 yards. Browns extend their lead to 23-6 with 10:40 remaining.
Justin Fields' decision-making appears to have sped up out of necessity. Cleveland was in his face from various angles on that 3rd down play but he got it out quickly.
Chicago-Cleveland came down for a moment after the touchdown but it re-surfaced with the Browns as 14.5 point favorites, according to Caesars Sportsbook.
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