NFL News & Analysis

NFL Preseason Week 3 Game Recap: Cleveland Browns 19, Atlanta Falcons 10

Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (8) catches a pass during warmups before their game against the Cleveland Browns at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns left Week 3 of the 2021 NFL preseason with a 19-10 road win against Atlanta Falcons to cap a perfect 3-0 preseason.

While the Browns got a look at most of their first string for a few drives, the Atlanta Falcons trotted out backups for most of the game. And that showed late in the contest, with some less than stellar play from both offenses.

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Cleveland Browns


Browns fans got their first look at Baker Mayfield this preseason, and the former No. 1 overall pick didn’t disappoint. After the Browns' first drive stalled in the red zone with a failed fourth-down conversion, Mayfield came back with one of the prettiest throws we’ve seen all preseason. 

Mayfield finished 6-of-10 for 113 yards and a score in a mistake-free outing.

Running back

Nick Chubb didn't play tonight, and Kareem Hunt only saw two carries on the day. So, John Kelly was left to tote the rock 10 times — and he looked solid doing so.

Kelly didn’t quite have the space the Browns' first-string offensive line would have created, but he still broke three tackles on his 10 carries.

2021 NFL Preseason: Most missed tackles forced per attempt among running backs (min. 20 carries)

1 John Kelly 27 0.48
2 Rhamondre Stevenson 30 0.40
3 Jacques Patrick 31 0.39
4 Brenden Knox 25 0.32
5 JaQuan Hardy 26 0.31

Former UDFA Davion Davis did his best to secure a roster spot for when his two-game suspension vests this season. He hauled in five passes for 53 yards. Of those five catches, one went for a score and the other four went for first downs.

Davis put together a couple more acrobatic catches after a highlight-reel grab at Jacksonville a couple of weeks ago.

Offensive line

The Browns' first-string offensive line was back to its normal dominant self. The starting five of Jedrick Wills Jr., Joel Bitonio, Nick Harris, Wyatt Teller and Jack Conklin didn't allow a single pressure on their 11 pass-blocking snaps. It’s scary to think this line could be even better in 2021.

Defensive line

I’m not sure the return of Malik McDowell has received as much attention as it deserves, as the former second-round pick has been a problem this preseason.

McDowell has consistently beaten blocks through two preseason games. He generated two pressures on only nine pass-rushing snaps against the Falcons.

After being forced out of the NFL after an ATV accident in 2017, the Michigan State product is still only 25 and was a highly-touted prospect.

Malik McDowell College Grades

Year Overall grade Run defense Pass-rush
2016 75.5 72.0 80.1
2015 76.7 69.6 84.1

While we didn't get to see Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in this one, the Browns got a good look at their deep linebacker group.

Mack Wilson did his best to prove he deserves real playing time in the regular season. Wilson notched three stops in the first half and recorded a hurry on one of his two pass-rushing snaps. 


There wasn’t much in the way of standout performances for the Browns secondary on Sunday night. In fact, the Browns defense left the game without registering a single forced incompletion.

The first-teamers only got eight snaps and didn’t allow a score, which is a good sign, at least.

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Atlanta Falcons


In a battle for the Falcons' backup quarterback job, it’s difficult to think newly acquired Josh Rosen did enough to unseat Feleipe Franks three days after arriving.

Franks went 5-of-8 for 66 yards, but two drops from his receivers hurt his stat line. The athletic element is also firmly in Franks' favor, as he put up 10 yards after contact on his three carries. 

Running back

The Falcons split touches fairly evenly among their three backups, Caleb Huntley, Qadree Ollison and D’Onta Foreman.

While Huntley led the group in carries, with eight, he also had the least space to work with, as all 16 of his yards came after contact. 


Kyle Pitts needed just two snaps to remind the world why he was the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history. Pitts caught a crossing route and … well … just watch. 

They were his only snaps of the 2021 preseason, and I feel fairly confident in saying he didn’t need any more than that.

Offensive line

The Falcons obviously wanted rookies Jalen Mayfield and Drew Dalman to get as many reps as possible on Sunday night. Both played into the fourth quarter, and the two had fairly opposite nights.

Mayfield got beat on numerous occasions in pass protection at guard while Dalman didn’t allow a single pressure at center.

Player Pass-blocking snaps Pressures allowed
Willie Beavers 33 1
Jalen Mayfield 31 2
Kion Smith 22 7
Drew Dalman 19 0
Joe Sculthorpe 19 1
Defensive line

Rookie Adetokunbo Ogundeji was easily the most effective pass-rusher for the Falcons on the day. The fifth-rounder was seen as a bit of an athletic project coming out of Notre Dame, so the fact that he's producing early will be encouraging for the Falcons coaching staff.

After two pressures in his first two preseason games, Ogundeji managed two more on Sunday night.


Mykal Walker continues to look like one of the steals of the 2020 draft. Walker made five tackles and two stops. He didn't miss a single tackle and added a batted pass.

Walker still has an uphill climb to be on the field in nickel, but after a 74.0 overall grade as a rookie, he gives the Falcons a nice base trio.


Arthur Smith has been giving rookie safety Richie Grant a ton of snaps this preseason to get him up to speed, and that continued Sunday night.

After playing 75 snaps in his first two games, Grant played 32 more against the Browns. He finished with two defensive stops and allowed all three of his targets to be caught for 33 yards.

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