Cleveland Browns running back Carlos Hyde (34) scores a touchdown as Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White (27) and defensive end Jerry Hughes (55) pursue during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium.

© Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Browns run game, starting defense shine in 19-17 loss to Bills

Questions get answered in second preseason game

August 18, 2018
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Daryl Ruiter-Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – It appears the Cleveland Browns’ running game will be just fine.

The starting defense looks pretty good too.

Despite a 19-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills Friday night, the Cleveland Browns have a few things to feel pretty good about. 

“The defense and offense in the first couple of drives there both started off hot,” head coach Hue Jackson said. “Defense had four three-and-outs, and the offense went down and scored so that was exciting. It was good to see the run game get going a little bit. We have to see where we were not able to throw the ball as well as we could.”

Carlos Hyde capped a 70-yard opening drive with a 4-yard touchdown run off right tackle – he walked in to the end zone – and 63 yards of that march came on the ground. Hyde had bursts of 9 and 26 yards while Duke Johnson had an 18-yard carry that would’ve gone for more had he not lost his footing inside the 20.

Hyde finished with 64 yards on 9 carries plus the score.

“This week, we just put more emphasis on it,” Hyde said. “That was our mindset going into this game to get the run game going. The offensive line did a great job today creating some lanes for me to run through, and I was able to make plays.”

Tyrod Taylor completed 4 of 7 passes for 22 yards as the offense managed just 29 yards combined on the 3 ensuing drives following the TD. A pair of offensive pass interference penalties – one on Jarvis Landry and the other on Rashard Higgins – doomed the fourth and final series for the starters.

“We had an emphasis on running the ball today,” Taylor said. “It was something that we talked about getting going early, and we were able to do so. A couple of the passes were third down situations. Some miscommunication on one of the third downs. Some stuff that we can be better, but I still think that we are able to do some of the things that we wanted to do. 

“The last drive that I was in, penalties kind of hurt us. We were in the scoring zone. That is two weeks in a row that we have had penalties that have taken us out of the scoring zone. That is something that we have to clean up.”

Defensively, things went just fine for Gregg Williams’ first unit.

Defensive ends Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah nearly decapitated Bills starting quarterback AJ McCarron, Larry Ogunjobi sacked him on third down and collectively the Browns forced 4 3-and-outs in the opening quarter while giving up just 22 net yards.

“It definitely felt good because I was hurt the last six games last season,” Ogbah said. “It felt good being back out there and making stuff happen.”

LeSean McCoy was bottled up by the Browns defense and was held to 11 yards on 4 carries, which included an 8-yard run.

Bills starter AJ McCarron had Browns fans thanking Sashi Brown for scuttling the trade last fall with Cincinnati. He was 3 of 6 for just 12 yards in 4 offensive series before rookie Josh Allen took over.

“When you have Myles getting to the quarterback in 1.5 seconds, the quarterback is either going to throw a pick-six or he is going to get sacked,” safety Damarious Randall said. “Normally, what you see with the best defenses is that they have pass rushers like that. If you look at the year that the Broncos were successful, Von Miller was coming off the edge like crazy. Nobody could block him. With that being said, I’m actually looking forward to seeing Myles all year long coming off the edge and causing havoc each and every day.”

McCarron suffered a hairline fracture of the collarbone in the first quarter according to Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. The team announced in the second half that McCarron had suffered a right shoulder injury.

The Bills’ rookie completed 9 of 13 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown while accounting for 13 offensive points in 3 series.

Allen, who was sacked earlier by safety Derrick Kindred, marched the Bills 15 plays and 80 yards before hitting Rod Streater for a 2-yard touchdown after avoiding defensive end Nate Orchard, who just missed a sack, to tie the game at 7 with 3:55 left in the first half.

Allen positioned the Bills for a 33-yard field goal with 7 seconds left in the half and accounted for 100 net yards in 2 second quarter drives. After a quick 3-and-out by Mayfield to start the second half, Allen moved the Bills back into field goal range where a 53-yard kick from Stephen Houschka extended Buffalo’s lead to 13-7 in the third quarter.

Mayfield’s best play came during his fourth series when he avoided pressure, stayed in the pocket and fired a 26-yard strike to tight end Devon Cajuste at the 20 to convert a third-and-6. Later in the drive, Cajuste was called for an offensive pass interference penalty that took a 2-yard touchdown throw to receiver Derek Willies off the board forcing the Browns to settle for a 30-yard Ross Martin field goal and a 13-10 deficit.

“He did [face open pass rushers], and he didn’t blink. That is what I love about him," Jackson said. "Baker is still continuing to keep his eyes downfield, and there are a couple of times when he got hit early. That was water off a duck’s back to him. ‘Let’s keep going.’ He led us down there a couple of times and put us into position to score. He did some good things. At the same time, we have to finish some drives and finish some other drives by protecting better. We have to.”

Willies hand another potential touchdown catch overturned by replay with 12:26 left in the fourth quarter when he went up the elevator shaft to make the catch – after pushing off – for what looked like 1-yard TD, but his knee was out of bounds before the second foot came down.

On the next play Chubb, who only had 11 yards on 15 carries last week against the Giants, scored to put the Browns up 17-13. The rookie finished with 53 yards on 11 carries.

“Sometimes your first game, you start pressing a little bit and wanting to do well,” Jackson said. “He had a great week of practice and came out and played well. He did some really nice things. I am dying to see the pass protection part of it. We know he can run the ball. He has to continue to work at the passing game.”

Mayfield finished 7 of 13 for 75 yards and accounted for 10 points in 6 offensive series – 1 of which was a kneel-down to end the first half.

Receiver Corey Coleman’s return to Cleveland was anti-climactic. He caught 1 pass from Allen that went for 7 yards, otherwise he did a lot of watching from the sideline.

“It was pretty good,” Coleman said of his return. “I got to see some of the guys that I had been with for a while. I'm just happy to come here with the Buffalo Bills, compete and come back with a victory.”

Nathan Peterman’s 34-yard touchdown to a wide-open Nick O’Leary thanks to a blown coverage with 9:02 left in the fourth put Buffalo back in front 19-17 after the point after went wide left.

A 45-yard field goal by Tyler Davis would’ve extended the lead to 22-17 but it sailed wide left leaving the final margin at 19-17.