Mon Sep 28 4:12pm ET
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) tries to get past Washington Football Team offensive tackle Geron Christian (74) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Cleveland Browns fans celebrate during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt walks back to the locker room after the Browns defeated the Washington Football Team 34-20 in an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett celebrates after the Browns defeated the Washington Football Team in an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam gives a thumbs up after the Browns defeated the Washington Football Team 34-20 in an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski watches during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
CLEVELAND (AP) Myles Garrett vowed to put the past - and a regrettable incident - behind him. This was going to be a different season for him and the Cleveland Browns.
A new beginning.
So far, Garrett's kept his word.
He had another dominant performance on Sunday, getting two sacks and forcing and recovering a game-sealing fumble in the fourth quarter as the Browns beat The Washington Football Team 34-20 to improve to 2-1 for the first time since 2011.
Three games into 2020, the Browns have a winning record. While that wouldn't cause a ripple in a lot of NFL cities, this is Cleveland after all, where the beloved football squad has produced mostly misery and hasn't been over .500 since 2014 - a span of 90 consecutive weeks.
It's a nice turnaround for the Browns, and it's an impressive one for Garrett, who was suspended for the final six games in 2019 after his infamous helmet-swinging incident on Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph in the closing seconds of a game.
But while not forgotten, the moment inspired and motivated Garrett to be better and the star defensive end has been everything the Browns could have hoped. All of Cleveland's best players - Garrett, Odell Beckham Jr., Nick Chubb - made plays.
''We are counting on those guys,'' coach Kevin Stefanski said. ''As coaches, we try and put them in spots to succeed. Those guys are really talented football players, and I am counting on them and their teammates are counting on them, and they come through. That is the nature of this beast.''
For the second week in a row, Garrett, who spent the week hearing about Washington's rookie defensive star Chase Young, delivered the kind of play that had been missing from his resume before this season.
With Cleveland holding a 31-20 lead, Garrett got around Washington tackle Geron Christian Sr., grabbed quarterback Dwayne Haskins and knocked the ball from his hands before grabbing it. The Browns added a field goal to put it away.
''Big-time players make big-time plays,'' quarterback Baker Mayfield said of Garrett, who made a similar momentum-shifting play against Cincinnati a week earlier.
Garrett did his part in a complete, all-around effort by Cleveland, which hasn't had many of those in recent years. The offense clicked. The defense forced five turnovers and the special teams units, which have had their issues early on, did their jobs.
''In this one, we just put it all together,'' Garrett said. ''That is real team ball, complementary ball that we played. I am proud of how we all came together.''
Make no mistake, the Browns are going to run the ball and run it some more.
Nick Chubb bulled his way to 108 yards and two touchdowns against Washington, and when he wasn't in, Kareem Hunt kept up the attack.
The backs have combined for 555 total yards (185 per game) and seven TDs.
Stefanski's ability to use his two backs - they've combined for 496 yards rushing in three games - and pound the ball takes some of the pressure off Mayfield to make big plays and stay away from bigger mistakes.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Cleveland's banged-up secondary had hoped to be healthier when starting cornerback Greedy Williams returned from a shoulder injury last week. But he's not ready, and starter Denzel Ward only played one half Sunday because of a groin injury.
Nickel back Kevin Johnson got his first action after suffering a lacerated liver in training camp and is expected to play more in the coming weeks.
Despite a number of injuries, Cleveland's defensive line rose to the occasion Sunday while showing some unanticipated depth.
Beyond Garrett, who was in Haskins' face all day, tackle Larry Ogunjobi continues to be a nuisance inside for opposing lines, Sheldon Richardson got another sack and Adrian Clayborn returned from a hip injury and started for injured end Olivier Vernon.
Also, Mayfield snapped an eight-game streak of throwing an interception.
Wide receiver Rashard Higgins appears to be the odd-man out again. Higgins was inactive Sunday as Stefanski chose to dress just four wideouts, clearly a sign he intended to run the ball.
Higgins went from Mayfield's go-to guy last year to the bench and now he's having to fight his way back up the depth chart.
Return specialist and wide receiver Jojo Natson suffered a season-ending knee injury against Washington.
Natson, who signed as a free agent in March, was handling kickoff and punt return duties and Stefanski used him on some running plays and as a decoy.
Rookie sixth-round pick Donovan Peoples-Jones will likely replace him, but Stefanski wouldn't commit to him on Monday.
4 - Odell Beckham Jr. only had four catches, but all of them went for first downs. None was bigger than his catch on third-and-12 late in the third quarter when Cleveland's offense needed a spark.
Washington is one thing, Dallas is another. The Browns can legitimize themselves with a road win at Dallas next Sunday. It's a homecoming of sorts for Mayfield and Garrett, two Texas natives and former No. 1 overall picks finally playing to their potential.
Five Fantasy Takeaways from Week 6
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially acquired defensive tackle Steve McLendon and a 2023 seventh-round pick from the New York Jets on Tuesday in exchange for a 2022 sixth-round pick. In six games for the Jets this year, McLendon has 14 combined tackles (eight solo). The 6-foot-3, 310-pounder signed with Gang Green as a free agent in 2016 and recorded 154 tackles (28 for loss), 7.5 sacks and 17 QB hits in 64 games (58 starts) in his time with the Jets. He previously played six seasons for the Steelers and has 244 career tackles (41 for loss), 12.5 sacks and 28 QB hits. McLendon will join a sturdy Bucs defensive line that just shut down Packers running back Aaron Jones and limited quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay's offense to just 10 points in Week 6.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (toe) returned to practice on Tuesday. If all goes well, the hope is that he will return from Injured Reserve to play Thursday night against the Eagles. Shepard led the team in receiving last year and has caught eight of his 10 targets for 76 yards in his two games in 2020, including a team-high six receptions in the season-opener. The fifth-year wideout has been out since suffering a turf toe injury in Week 2. It remains to be seen if the G-Men will ease Shepard back into the fold if he plays in Week 7, but you should check your waiver wire to see if he was dropped by his previous owner. When healthy, Shepard should be quarterback Daniel Jones' top receiving target. The matchup is a good one for New York's pass-catchers, too, as Philly's D has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to receivers through six weeks.
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that linebacker Devin Bush (knee) will undergo surgery to fix his torn ACL on Wednesday. Bush will miss the remainder of the 2020 season. It's a big blow to the Steelers Defense, as the No. 10 overall pick from 2019 had been a big contributor in the middle of the field. The 22-year-old had 26 tackles (16 solo), two QB hits, three passes defensed and one sack in five games this season after recording 109 combined tackles, two interceptions, four passes defensed and four fumble recoveries in a very productive rookie season in 2019. The loss of Bush will be something to watch moving forward, as Pittsburgh's defense has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to running backs this year. It's good news for Titans running back Derrick Henry in the Week 7 showdown of two unbeaten teams.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross III has asked the team for a trade. The speedy former ninth overall pick had been inactive for three straight weeks before returning to action in Week 6, but he played just one snap against the Colts. Ross' agent said that his client is frustrated with his lack of playing time and they've had talks with the team about a trade, but those talks didn't go very far. The 25-year-old had a couple 100-yard games early last season, but then he got hurt and never quite established a firm role in the offense. Now he's behind Tyler Boyd, A.J. Green and rookie Tee Higgins on the receiver depth chart and has just two catches for 17 yards in three games this year. A change of scenery would be for the best, but it wouldn't guarantee that he resurfaces to fantasy relevance.
The Miami Dolphins are naming rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa their starting quarterback heading into their Week 7 bye week, according to a source. Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick will now serve as the backup after Tagovailoa made his NFL debut in the blowout win over the Jets in Week 6. The rookie from Alabama completed both of his pass attempts for nine yards against New York. The biggest takeaway on Sunday was that he looked fully healthy, and the Dolphins are obviously confident that he's ready for the NFL stage as their starter. That'll come in Week 8 against a tough Rams Defense looking to bounce back after a loss to the division-rival 49ers. Tagovailoa has plenty of upside as a poised and accurate QB that can also use his legs, but he'll be a low-end QB2 in superflex leagues for his first career NFL start in two weeks.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Andy Isabella has dropped off significantly after his two-touchdown performance in Week 3. This week, in the team's 38-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys, he was held without a catch and received just two targets. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray struggled in the game, completing just nine of his 24 passes for 188 yards. Christian Kirk, meanwhile, reeled in the team's only two receiving touchdowns in the game and has continued to be Murray's preferred target over Isabella. There's no need to hold on to Isabella in any fantasy leagues as long as the Cardinals are fully healthy at receiver.
The Cardinals Defense had their best outing of the year so far in Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys. They held the Cowboys to just 10 points in the game and came up with two Andy Dalton interceptions as well as two fumble recoveries, both as a result of Ezekiel Elliott fumbles. The Cardinals also sacked Dalton three times in the game. While it was certainly an encouraging outing from the Cardinals Defense, don't expect a similar result in Week 7 when they face the Seattle Seahawks, who have topped 30 points in four of their five games this year.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald wasn't heavily utilized in the team's 38-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6. Fitzgerald was targeted four times in the game and came down with three catches for 22 yards. It's been an extremely slow start to the year for Fitzgerald, who is yet to top 50 receiving yards in a game and also yet to score a touchdown this year. Kyler Murray had a rough day throwing the ball in this game, completing just nine of his 24 passes for 188 yards. Fitzgerald shouldn't be trusted as a starting option for now and can be left on waivers in most leagues at this point.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk had only two catches in Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys, but luckily they were both big ones. Kirk had a six-yard touchdown reception and an 80-yard touchdown reception, leading to his final stat line of two catches for 86 yards on three targets. The Cardinals dominated the Cowboys, winning 38-10, but their passing game struggled a bit, regardless. Kyler Murray only completed nine passes all game and totaled just 188 yards. That's three-straight solid fantasy outings now for Kirk, who should be considered a decent WR3 or flex option in most formats going forward.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had a 60-yard reception in Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys. It was his longest gain of the season. However, he wasn't able to do much else in the game. He was targeted eight times on Monday night and came down with just two catches for 73 yards. It was a rough game from a passing standpoint for the Cardinals as quarterback Kyler Murray completed just nine of his 24 passes for 188 yards. Christian Kirk had the team's only two touchdown receptions in the game. It was the first game this year in which Hopkins was held under six receptions. Look for him to bounce back strong when the team faces the Seattle Seahawks in Week 7.
Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake had a much-needed breakout game in Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys. Drake rushed the ball 20 times for 164 yards and two touchdowns. It was his first game with over 100 yards from scrimmage this year as well as his first time averaging over five yards per carry in a game. Drake had his stat line bolstered significantly by a 69-yard touchdown run with under two minutes left when the game was already decided, but it was a true breakout game for Drake regardless. He's been a frustrating slow-starter for fantasy owners this year, but hopefully his Week 6 breakout will be a sign of things to come.
Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds wasn't able to contribute much to the team's 38-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6. Edmonds had five carries for 23 yards in the game and caught one of his two targets for six yards. The Cardinals dominated the last three quarters of the game and leaned heavily on No. 1 running back Kenyan Drake to seal the victory, giving him a total of 20 carries in the game. Even though Drake has struggled out of the gate this year, the team is still sticking with him as their primary ball-carrier with Edmonds as a pass-catching option and change-of-pace rusher. Edmonds is still worth owning in most leagues and could see an uptick in usage when the Cardinals attempt to keep pace with the high-scoring Seattle Seahawks in Week 7.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray had a rough overall game despite the team's 38-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6. Luckily, it still turned out to be a decent fantasy day. Murray completed just nine of his 24 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 74 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. It was his first game of the year without a turnover, which is certainly encouraging, but he's now been held under 200 passing yards in two of his past three games. With 370 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns on the year, he's definitely doing enough to remain a no doubt QB1 in all formats, but it's been a shakier start to the season than fantasy owners were hoping to see from the second-year pro.
Cincinnati Bengals WR John Ross approached the team about a trade. Ross is in the last year of his rookie deal and seeking a fresh start.
Updating previous reports, Kansas City Chiefs RB Le'Veon Bell will receive $500,000 for 25 percent playing time in an AFC title win and $500,000 for 25 percent playing time in a Super Bowl win.
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald extended his streak with at least one reception to 249 games in Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys. His streak is the longest of any player with a single team, and the second-longest overall streak in NFL history (Jerry Rice, 274). Fitzgerald's streak started Nov. 7, 2004.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes tossed two touchdowns in Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills, and he set a franchise record with at least one scoring strike in 16 straight outings.
Philadelphia Eagles DL Malik Jackson (quadriceps) might miss two weeks due to the a quadriceps injury he suffered in the Week 6 game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup posted two catches for 15 yards on six targets in Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Fantasy Spin: Gallup definitely wasn't on the same page as new starter Andy Dalton, and he was very far behind Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb for the eye of the quarterback among the wide receivers. He is only worth a look as a WR5 in fantasy leagues of 12 or more teams heading into Week 7 on the road against the Washington Football Team.
Dallas Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz posted five receptions for 35 yards in Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals on five targets.
Fantasy Spin: Schultz was targeted early on by Andy Dalton, but he was barely used in the second half. He has four or more grabs in four of the past five outings, emerging as a respectable TE2 in most fantasy leagues and a decent bye week replacement. The Cowboys travel to meet the Washington Football Team in Week 7.