In the first game of the 2023 NFL season at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, the Cleveland Browns emerged victorious against the New York Jets with a final score of 21-16 in the annual Hall of Fame Game. The game had a slight delay during the third quarter due to a brief outage of the stadium lights. However, once the game resumed, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, a fifth-round draft pick from UCLA, took the spotlight for the Browns.
Thompson-Robinson showcased his abilities by leading a stellar 10-play, 78-yard touchdown drive, which ended with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Austin Watkins, giving the Browns a crucial 21-16 lead. Along with his impressive passing, the young quarterback also displayed his agility by rushing for 37 yards on five carries. He completed 8 of 11 passes for 82 yards in the air. Thompson-Robinson is currently competing for the backup quarterback position behind Deshaun Watson for the Browns, going head-to-head with Kellen Mond, the Minnesota Vikings’ third-round pick from the 2021 NFL Draft, who started the game for Cleveland.
On the Jets’ side, Zach Wilson, expected to be Aaron Rodgers’ backup this season, started as quarterback and made a notable 57-yard pass to Malik Taylor along the left sideline. This contributed to the Jets’ offensive plays. Both teams initially struggled with rust at the beginning of the game. The Browns missed a field goal in their opening drive, while the Jets managed to secure points on the board with a 54-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein. New York’s rookie fifth-round running back, Israel Abanikanda, impressed with his speed and agility, scoring the first touchdown of the game.
The Browns managed to close the gap before halftime as Mond connected with running back John Kelly for a three-yard touchdown pass. Zuerlein continued to shine with his kicking skills, making a successful 53-yard field goal, bringing the score to 16-7 at halftime. In the second half, the Browns staged a remarkable comeback, thanks to standout performances from players like Demetric Felton, who rushed for 46 yards and scored the Browns’ first touchdown of the half. The Jets’ first-round pick, Will McDonald IV, showcased his potential with impressive defensive plays and tackles.
Ultimately, Bubba Bolden secured the victory for the Browns with a late fourth-quarter interception, sealing their triumph over the Jets. The Hall of Fame Game provided an exciting preview of the upcoming NFL season, allowing players to demonstrate their skills and compete for crucial positions on their respective teams.