The 2020 season did not start the way the Browns wanted, but the good news is Week 2 comes quick, and the Browns have a great chance to even their record against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football. The Bengals also lost their season opener, albeit in much more dramatic fashion, as a missed field goal sealed their fate against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers.
This game will be played on the 100th anniversary of the formation of the NFL, which took place September 17, 1920, just down the road in Canton. Ohio is the birthplace of the NFL, and it is only fitting the Battle of Ohio will take center stage on such an important night in NFL history.
Also on full display will be incredible talent at the quarterback position, as it will feature 2018 No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield against 2020 No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow. Both quarterbacks are in search of their first wins this season, and this game definitely seems to have heightened importance for a Browns team with playoff aspirations. It is critical the Browns take care of business in their home opener.
Here are three ways to do just that in this week’s Winning Mix.
1. Avoid self-inflicted wounds
In the season-opening loss to the Ravens, the Browns made critical mistakes early that allowed the defending AFC North Champions to take the lead immediately and ultimately pull away by halftime. The opening drive ended with an interception, and the second drive ended on a failed fake punt, both of which directly led to 10 Ravens points and an early double-digit deficit.
After closing the gap with a touchdown, the Browns missed an extra point leaving the score at 10-6. On the next Baltimore drive, Larry Ogunjobi forced a fumble, which was recovered by Myles Garrett. After moving the ball down the field, the Browns were driving to take the lead and faced first-and-10 at the Baltimore 29. After consecutive penalties, it quickly became first-and-29. A sack and another penalty followed, and the Browns now found themselves in third-and-41 from their own 40-yard line, well out of field goal range. They ended the drive by punting the ball instead of scoring points.
On the very next possession, the Browns had driven deep into Baltimore territory and were facing third-and-2 at the Ravens 23-yard line. A dropped pass on third down effectively ended the drive, the Browns missed the subsequent field goal attempt on the very next play and the chance to make it a one-possession game evaporated.
You can’t win in the NFL when you put yourself in a hole early and self-sabotage any chances to seize momentum and get back into the game, especially against the Ravens, who are among the league’s most talented teams. In a game against a young Bengals team, it is even more critical to play clean and take care of business so you don’t hand any momentum or easy points to the opponent.