CLEVELAND — Myles Garrett will have a harder time keeping this streak alive.
For the fourth straight week, the defensive end changed the game. This time, he caused a safety that proved critical in the Browns’ 32-23 victory over the Colts on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Garrett pressured quarterback Philip Rivers into an intentional grounding from the end zone, as he threw out of bounds from the pocket without a receiver in the vicinity. It was Cleveland’s first safety since 2018, and the two points were instrumental as the Browns hung on down the stretch.
Garrett entered with a strip-sack in three straight games but couldn’t extend the streak. He made up for it with the safety, a sack, four quarterback hits and forcing Rivers up in the pocket as he threw a fourth-quarter interception to safety Sheldrick Redwine.
“The strip-sack streak has ended, but the streak that matters is still going,” Garrett said of the franchise’s first four-game win streak since 2009. “Definitely happy about that, and I am going to try to go out there and be disruptive as much as I can, but it is on those guys — the rest of the line, the linebackers and DBs — they have been balling. They are just allowing me to be effective by making them move the ball and get me freed up for some one-on-ones and I have just been able to come up and make the plays that I made.”
Garrett is second in the NFL with six sacks, behind the Rams’ Aaron Donald with 7.5. But the safety was his signature play vs. the Colts.
“They had the momentum and were backed up,” Garrett said. “We needed a play to be made, and I am greedy when it comes to that. I want to make that big play. I want to make the play to put us over the top.
“Fortunately I was able to. I was not able to get him down and take the ball away in the end zone for six, but we will take two and the ball.”
Quarterback Baker Mayfield was again grateful to have Garrett.
“He is a game-changer,” Mayfield said. “We are extremely lucky and happy to have him on our team, and he continues to do that week in and week out in big moments and make those big plays.”
Garrett wasn’t alone in the big-play department on defense. Backup safeties Ronnie Harrison and Redwine had second-half interceptions, with Harrison returning his 47 yards for a touchdown.
Harrison started his first game with the Browns because Karl Joseph was inactive with a hamstring injury. Harrison was acquired Sept. 3 in a trade with Jacksonville.
He left the game Sunday with a concussion, forcing Redwine to see his first defensive action of the season.
“There is not a guy that is on the sideline that is not drooling to get in there and make big plays,” receiver Jarvis Landry said. “I think that is the beauty about our team. Everybody accepts their role and what they have to do to make sure that we can win games or have successful plays and are ready to do more if needed. This group works.”
Redwine stayed ready despite the inaction through the first four-plus games.
“Just preparing every day like you are going into the game ready for the opportunity,” he said. “Just diving into the playbook. Just keeping faith in God all the time. Just making sure I study everything. (The interception) was my first one so I am still a little emotional about it.”
The Browns overcame a string of injuries, starting with right guard Wyatt Teller, who left the game in the first quarter with a calf injury and didn’t return. Chris Hubbard replaced him.
Teller was a big piece of the top-ranked rushing attack through four games, earning Pro Football Focus’ top grade among NFL guards. He’ll have an MRI on Monday, coach Kevin Stefanski said.
** X-rays on Mayfield’s ribs were negative after he was hit by end Justin Houston while throwing his second interception. Mayfield’s wrist was also sore after taking a hit when the officials didn’t stop the play despite the Colts jumping offside.
“That was definitely a little awkward on my wrist,” he said. “You expect him to blow the whistle, but every once in awhile, if they are not going to, have to throw the ball away and protect myself. That is the name of the game.”
** Rookie linebacker Jacob Phillips left with a knee injury and will have an MRI. The third-round pick missed Weeks 2 and 3 with a knee injury.
** Defensive tackles Sheldon Richardson and Jordan Elliott left but returned. Defensive end Olivier Vernon suffered a groin injury, but Stefanski didn’t mention him among the injured.
Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was kept out of the end zone after three touchdowns last week against the Cowboys but still made an impact — with his hands and arm.
Beckham had five catches for 58 yards and completed an 18-yard pass to tight end Austin Hooper off a reverse. Beckham caught a 37-yard touchdown from best friend Landry last week but didn’t return the favor.
“Man, I said the same thing,” said Landry, who had 80 yards in the first quarter and finished with 88. “We went through practice and Coach would take me out when we ran that play a couple times, just to help him fight the urge to throw me the ball. It got to where we wanted it to go, and Hoop made a helluva play and Odell made a helluva throw.”
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Receiver Rashard Higgins made a case for more playing time, catching three passes for 31 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown when the Colts left him uncovered as he ran down the right seam. Higgins was a healthy inactive the last two weeks, but No. 3 receiver KhaDarel Hodge (hamstring) went on injured reserve to create an opening.
“Proud of him being able to deal with everything and come in and make plays when he can,” Mayfield said. “It looked like it was supposed to be Cover-2 and just kind of threw him open (on the TD). That is just playing ball. That is knowing that guy. I have had a lot of reps with him and knowing where he is going to be.”
Mayfield has 8,528 passing yards, passing Bernie Kosar for the most in franchise history in a player’s first three seasons.
** Hunt caught a 2-yard touchdown, giving him six touchdowns in five games. Leroy Kelly in 1971 was the last Browns player to start as fast.
** The Browns have scored at least 30 points in four straight games.
** They’re 3-0 at home for the first time since 2004.
** Rivers became the fifth player in NFL history with 5,000 completions.
Elliott, a third-round pick in April, was expected to make his first start, but Vincent Taylor got the call in place of defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (abdomen), who was ruled out Friday.
The other inactives were: cornerback Greedy Williams (shoulder), linebacker Tae Davis (elbow), receiver Taywan Taylor and guard Evan Brown.
Williams has yet to play this year. He was ruled out Friday.
** The Browns elevated defensive tackle Joey Ivie from the practice squad for the game.
Landry was one of several big-name players to participate in a public service announcement from the NFL recognizing National Coming Out Day. The video celebrated former NFL players who have come out and voiced support for any current players who choose to come out and the LGBTQ community.
** Attendance was allowed by the state health department to double to 12,000, so the Browns opened the upper deck.
** The Browns paid tribute to Bridget McDevitt, who died Friday after fighting Grade 3 neuroendocrine cancer. She was married to Browns vice president and general counsel Ted Tywang, and Garrett wore a shirt Friday with “McD” inside a heart to show his support.
** Landry was the game captain.