With his team needing a boost, Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward provided one, nabbing an interception off of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and returning it 61 yards for a touchdown.
The play broke some ominous streaks for both Ward and the Browns. For Ward — a Pro Bowler as a rookie a year ago — it was his first interception in 16 games.
For the Browns, it was their first interception touchdown since 2017 when Jason McCourty did it. It was a 38 game drought without a pick-six.
Ward was a first-round pick of the Browns in 2018, being taken with the No. 4 overall selection. He has 22 tackles and seven passes defended this season. The interception was the third of his career.
Browns Want More Out of Denzel Ward
Ward was banged up to start the season and the former first-round pick was not playing to his Pro Bowl standard upon his return.
“I want him to continue to get his hands on balls,” Kitchen said, via Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. “When you start getting your hands on footballs, that starts creating turnovers. He is playing really good, and I want more.”
Ward had no argument for Kitchens’ criticism. He wanted to be better as well and put it in action against the Bengals.
“I want more out of myself as well, too,” Ward said. “There’s always room for improvement in our game and my game specifically there’s definitely room for improvement. I’ve just got to stay consistent and keep doing what I’m doing and make plays to help this team win.”
David Njoku Returns for Browns, Part of Controversial Turnover
Browns tight end David Njoku did not have his first target after returning from an extended stint on injured reserve did not go as planned.
Baker Mayfield hit Njoku over the middle on a pass and he juggled it before being taken down by Bengals linebacker Nick Vigil. In a bang-bang play, Vigil rolled over and returned the ball after the officials ruled it a fumble (it was later overturned to an interception).
Officials reviewed the play and came back with the same verdict, drawing the ire Browns supporters who were not happy with the decision.
Njoku suffered a broken wrist that he had surgery on in Week 2 against the Jets, taking a hard hit that also left him concussed. He started practicing with the team after a stint on the IR two weeks ago. He expressed that he was immediately ready to return to the lineup, but the Browns didn’t want to rush him back.
At 6-foot-4, 246 pounds with 4.6 40-yard dash speed, Njoku is a unique weapon for the Browns.
Last year, Njoku essentially doubled his production in the passing game from his rookie season, collecting 56 catches for 639 yards and four touchdowns.
Before the injury, he was off to a slow start this season with just four catches for 37 yards and one touchdown.
While the Njoku interception was in no way Mayfield’s fault, he tossed another pick on the Browns second drive of the game to Jessie Bates III. His total for the season is at 16. He’s behind only Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston, who had 20 entering Sunday.