Myles Garrett sacked quarterback Ryan Tannehill 3 1/2 times and fronted a Cleveland defense that limited Tennessee to 94 yards as the Browns rolled to a 27-3 win over the Titans on Sunday.
Six days after the Browns (2-1) lost star running back Nick Chubb to a season-ending knee injury in Pittsburgh, Garrett and Cleveland’s defense stepped up with a dominant performance that overwhelmed the Titans (1-2).
The Browns’ offense was solid, too, with Deshaun Watson having his best day since signing with Cleveland. He completed 27 of 33 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns, and his 43-yarder to Amari Cooper put the Browns up 27-3 in the fourth quarter.
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Jerome Ford, who moved into Chubb’s starting spot, had two touchdowns — a 19-yard reception from Watson and a 3-yard run.
Tennessee has never had a worse day on offense.
It was the fewest yards for the Titans since they relocated from Houston in 1997. The previous low was 98 against Jacksonville in 2006.
Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) pressures Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, left, during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
The Browns held Tennessee All-Pro running back Derrick Henry to 20 yards on 11 carries, forced the Titans to punt seven times in nine possessions and held them to six first downs.
Tannehill was under siege all game. He was sacked five times, completed 13 of 25 passes for 104 yards and never got Tennessee’s offense moving.
Garrett set the tone from the start.
With the Titans driving for a possible score before halftime, Garrett sacked Tannehill on the final play of the half — a fitting finish for an attacking defense unleashed by first-year coordinator Jim Schwartz, who spent the past two seasons as an advisor with the Titans.
On Friday, Garrett conducted his weekly news conference while eating a sandwich wrap.
It was merely an appetizer.
Cleveland’s All-Pro end devoured the Titans, particularly left tackle Andre Dillard. On the last play of the half, Garrett sped around Dillard and was still being blocked when he grabbed and took down Tannehill.
Garrett’s sack effectively ended the game, but Ford helped end any doubts with his TD run in the third quarter that put the Browns up 20-3.
An exclamation point for Cleveland’s defense came on the first two plays of the fourth when Alex Wright and Garrett recorded sacks on consecutive plays, much to the delight of Schwartz, who smiled on the sideline.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is sacked by Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, right, during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Watson’s TD pass to Ford came after Cleveland’s quarterback took a shot to the head from linebacker Arden Key, who was called for roughing the passer on the same play the Titans were penalized for pass interference.
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Watson was checked by trainers but stayed in and connected four plays later with Ford.
At that point, the Browns had outgained the Titans 117-2.
The Browns had what should have been a touchdown taken away in the first half, when field judge Jeff Shears ruled Cooper stepped out of bounds after a catch.
However, Cooper, who may have gotten away with a push, never touched the Cleveland sideline.
The play is not reviewable, and the Browns settled for a 52-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins.
Tennessee’s DeAndre Hopkins extended his streak of catching at least one pass to 148 games. He has caught a pass in every game in his career and his run is the longest active streak in the league.
Watson was fined $35,510 by the NFL for infractions in the loss to the Steelers.
Two facemask penalties cost him $10,927 for each infraction, and Watson and tight end David Njoku were each fined $13,659 for unsportsmanlike conduct for making a violent gesture during a touchdown celebration as they simulated firing a gun.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) throws a pass as he is pressured by Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) and defensive tackle Shelby Harris (93) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Titans: Backup RB and special teamer Julius Chestnut (left leg) was injured on Tennessee’s first punt. He was unable to put any weight on his leg while being taken to the locker room.
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Titans: Host another AFC North opponent, Cincinnati, next Sunday.
Browns: Host Baltimore next Sunday.