Deshaun Watson Leads Browns to 2 Touchdowns in Loss to Chiefs
Deshaun Watson leads Cleveland Browns on back-to-back touchdown drives in a close exhibition finale against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In the exhibition finale between the Cleveland Browns and the Kansas City Chiefs, Deshaun Watson led the Browns on consecutive touchdown drives, one of which ended with a throw to tight end David Njoku. Despite the Chiefs' quarterbacks throwing two pick-6s, their backups rallied and secured a 33-32 victory over the Browns.
With 4:23 left in the game, Browns kicker Cade York made a 40-yard field goal to give them the lead. However, the Chiefs quickly responded with a drive of their own, and Harrison Butker kicked a 44-yard field goal to regain the lead.
In the final minute of the game, York had another opportunity to score, but his 43-yard attempt was partially blocked and unsuccessful.
Prior to this game, Watson had only played sparingly in the Browns' preseason games. However, coach Kevin Stefanski decided to give him the entire first quarter against the Chiefs. Despite some initial mistakes, Watson showcased his talent and provided highlights throughout the game.
Watson's performance on Saturday included completing 5 of 10 passes for 92 yards. Although his first two drives resulted in a lost fumble and a three-and-out, he later led the Browns to two touchdown drives, one of which featured a 53-yard pass to Amari Cooper on a broken play.
Juan Thornhill, a former Chiefs player, intercepted a pass from Chiefs backup quarterback Shane Buechele and returned it for a touchdown. Caleb Biggers also added an interception return for a touchdown off Blaine Gabbert. These plays helped the Browns build a 29-16 lead by halftime.
Both teams chose to rest many of their star players, such as Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce for the Chiefs, and Myles Garrett for the Browns. As a result, the game was largely decided by the performance of the backups.
Unfortunately, the game resulted in several injuries for the Browns. Jakeem Grant Sr. suffered a knee injury on the opening kickoff and had to be carted off the field. Additionally, defensive tackle Jordan Elliott hurt his hip, linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk injured his knee, and linebacker Tony Fields II was evaluated for a concussion but was cleared to return.
The Chiefs' backup quarterbacks, Buechele and Gabbert, struggled in the game. Buechele completed only 8 of 17 passes for 89 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown. Gabbert performed slightly better, going 10 of 18 for 169 yards with two touchdown passes and an interception.
Kansas City had a few standout performers, including Justyn Ross and Ihmir Smith-Marsette, who both caught touchdown passes. Running back La'Mical Perine also had a strong showing, potentially securing a backup role with 32 rushing yards and three receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown.
Notably, several key players did not participate in the game. For the Browns, Myles Garrett, Nick Chubb, and Joel Bitonio were among those who did not play. The Chiefs also rested their starters, including Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and linebacker Nick Bolton.
In terms of injuries, the Browns were without right tackle Jack Conklin due to a concussion. Other players who did not participate due to injuries included running back Jerome Ford, strong safety Grant Delpit, and wide receivers Marquise Goodwin and Anthony Schwartz. The Chiefs had linebacker Leo Chenal leave the game with a hamstring injury, while wide receiver Kadarius Toney and cornerback L'Jarius Sneed did not play due to knee injuries. Running back Isiah Pacheco made his preseason debut for the Chiefs but had no gain on his only rushing attempt.
Looking ahead, the Browns will open their regular season against AFC North rival Cincinnati on September 10. The Chiefs, on the other hand, will face the Lions in the NFL's regular-season opener on September 7.