Kevin Stefanski’s Coach of the Year odds got a big boost as the Cleveland Browns clinched a playoff spot on Thursday night.
The Browns’ 37-20 victory over the New York Jets started with a dominant first half before morphing into a defensive show in the second half.
It was good enough to clinch the top wild card position (fifth seed) and send the Dawg Pound into a frenzy.
PLAYOFFS HERE WE COME pic.twitter.com/afYU7qsnsg
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 29, 2023
Here are the Studs and Duds from the Browns playoff-clinching victory.
Stud: Jerome Ford – RB
Facing the NFL’s second-ranked pass defense put some urgency into Stump Mitchell’s running back room.
All Jerome Ford did was accrue 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and that was just in the first half.
His performance included a highlight-reel catch and run that went for 50 yards from a scrambling Joe Flacco.
Ford shook off a would-be tackler at the four-yard line and dove past another for the score.
Stud: David Njoku – TE
Amari Cooper was a late scratch, making David Njoku the top dawg among the Browns’ receivers.
And he responded with over 100 yards before the end of the first quarter.
Njoku only had one target in the second half, but his early outburst was key to building a 34-17 halftime lead.
Stud: Sione Takitaki – LB
Cleveland’s defense had some issues stopping Breece Hall for most of the night.
But they held the Jets to just three second-half points, helped by a blocked field goal and a fourth-down stop.
Everyone contributed, but Sione Takitaki’s 16 tackles and one pass breakup gives him the nod as a defensive stud.
Dud: Nobody Cares!
Cleveland is in the playoffs for the second time in Kevin Stefanski’s tenure.
We’ll forgive his early fourth down attempt in chip-shot field goal range and the second-half near-shutout.
And it’s not worth mentioning turnovers or other mistakes after such a momentous Browns win.