Many did not predict in the beginning of the season that the Cleveland Browns would be 8-3 at Week 13. They traveled down to Nashville to play against the Titans, who also had an 8-3 record after coming off an impressive win against the Indianapolis Colts last week. The Browns were able to pull off the win over the Titans to improve to 9-3.
The Browns got on the board first with a 27-yard field goal by kicker Cody Parkey in the beginning of the first quarter. It took Baker Mayfield until the last three minutes of the quarter to get his first touchdown throw in as he found wide receiver Jarvis Landry in the end zone for a 2-yard pass to give the Browns a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
It was the Mayfield show in the second quarter as he completely dominated the Titans’ defense and threw three touchdown passes in the second quarter alone. He ended the game with 25 completions, 334 passing yards and four touchdown passes, arguably his best game so far this season.
After a fumble by the Titans that was recovered by defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, Mayfield finds offensive tackle Kendall Lamm to extend the Browns lead 17-0. The Titans responded with their first points of the game with a 17-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill to wide receiver Corey Davis.
With five minutes left in the first half, Mayfield finds wide receiver Rashard Higgins for a long pass for a touchdown to further extend their lead. The half wrapped up with a one-yard run by running back Nick Chubb to give the Browns a hefty 38-7 lead at the end of the first half.
It seemed like the Browns had this game in the bag, however the Titans slowly began a comeback. Tannehill found tight end MyCole Pruitt for 17-yard pass for a touchdown, however failed to convert the two-point conversion. Pruitt also made a crucial fumble recovery run to the end zone to cut the Brown leads by 17 points. Tannehill had a decent game with 29 completions, 389 passing yards, and three touchdown passes.
The Titans managed to get two more touchdowns in the last two minutes in the fourth quarter, with a one-yard run by running back Jeremy McNichols and an eight-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Cameron Batson. Their late game efforts were not enough as the Browns took the victory 41-35.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski is a top contender for coach of the year this season for the fantastic job he has done with the Browns to bring them to 9-3 in the season. After the game he spoke about performance from his players today and the hard work they have put in practice to win the game.
“I give credit to the players. We talked all week about our work during the week was going to be a determining factor in how we play, and the guys worked their butts off all week,” Stefanski said according to the Cleveland Browns. “They understand what a good operation looks like and what efficient football looks like, and I was proud of how they played.”
Mayfield also spoke after game about the job from the Browns offensive line all around.
“Up front, the protection was great, and our guys were getting open and making those plays,” Mayfield said also to the Cleveland Browns. “It is a combination. Expect to come in and make some of these plays, and our guys are getting open. We base our game plan and our style of play off the run game, but we are going to do whatever it takes to win week in and week out. In the first half, that was spreading them out and doing some things to take care of some empty space.”
The Browns currently hold the first wild card spot as they will welcome AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens next week for a Monday Night football showdown. The Titans still hold a slight lead over first place in the AFC South, as they hold the tie breaker over the Colts who defeated the Houston Texans on Sunday. They will travel to Jacksonville to play against the struggling Jaguars on Sunday.