Browns defense turns up heat, offense sputters in 13-12 loss to Bucs

Austin Seibert, Jamie Gillan handle kicking duties with ease

Daryl Ruiter
August 23, 2019 - 11:01 pm

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Baker Mayfield struggled without his top targets while the defensive front provided a glimpse of the terror they plan to bring to opposing quarterbacks Friday night at Tampa Bay.

Here are a few observations from the dress rehearsal.

Sputtering O – Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Nick Chubb were given the night off and the offense looked like it also took the night off.

Mayfield completed just 10 of 26 attempts for 72 yards and an interception, which came on the final play of the first half.

Rashard Higgins only caught three of his seven targets for 18 yards, including just missing out on making a beautiful diving touchdown catch.

Between the inability of the offensive line to contain pressure from the Buccaneers, dropped passes and just missing by inches on a few throws, it was not the type of tune-up Mayfield or head coach Freddie Kitchens hoped for his offense, which managed just 9 points despite working with favorable field position in the first half.

The starting offensive line played into the third quarter and there may be reason for concern outside center JC Tretter and left guard Joel Bitonio.

Overall, Cleveland's offense converted just two of 14 on third down and totaled 141 yards. 

Sack attack – Defensively, the Browns turned it loose on Buccaneers quarterback Jamies Winston.

Defensive end Olivier Vernon sacked Winston twice on third down, defensive end Chris Smith, linebacker Christian Kirksey and cornerback Denzel Ward also sacked Winston. Myles Garrett had two pressures in one series of work and Sheldon Richardson helped set up Smith’s sack by stopping Winston from escaping. 

Defensive lineman Devaroe Lawrence added two more sacks in the second half as the defense finished with seven sacks on the night.

Strong specialists – The story of the night came courtesy of rookies Austin Seibert and Jamie Gillan.

Seibert handled the kicking and Gillan the punting Friday night and both players took advantage of the opportunity.

Seibert drilled a 54-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead. The kick was right down the middle and went through with room to spare. He also hit from 36 and 30 yards with Britton Colquitt holding for a 9-0 lead at the half.

A 35 yarder in the fourth quarter put the Browns back in front 12-10. The 4-4 effort was his strongest showing since the browns drafted him in the fifth round out of Oklahoma.

Gillan hit punts of 50 and 54 yards and averaged 47.8 yards on six kicks with quality hang time on them.  

Gillan raced down the field after his first punt of the second half – 45 yards – and upended Buccaneers returner Bobo Wilson, who caught the corner and appeared headed for open field, to limit the return to 14 yards.

A partially blocked punt followed by a six-yard return by Dontrell Hilliard set up Seibert’s second field goal.

Missed it by that much – Terrance Mitchell, who seems to have held off rookie Greedy Williams for the second starting corner job, jumped a route and just missed an interception of Winston.

Miller time – Braxton Miller, signed earlier this week saw action in the second half. He caught both targets for 12 yards.

Upon further review – Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians took the new pass interference review rules for a spin on the second play of the game. Arians challenged a no call on deep ball from Winston to former Browns receiver Breshad Perriman with Ward defending. Ward appeared to lock arms with Perriman but after the review, the original call on the field stood – no flag.  

Kitchens challenged and lost on a pass interference call against rookie linebacker Mack Wilson in the third quarter.