Browns DB gives ball to old coach after pick

CINCINNATI — Cleveland Browns safety Damarious Randall gave his former coach a game ball Sunday.

Randall presented Hue Jackson with the ball after Randall intercepted Andy Dalton in the second quarter of the Browns’ 35-20 victory over the Bengals.

Randall’s interception came on the second play after the Browns had taken a 21-0 lead. He immediately ran out of bounds and found himself face to face with Jackson on the Bengals sideline.

Randall handed the ball to Jackson, who took it and then patted Randall on the helmet. Jackson spent two-plus seasons as Browns head coach before being fired Oct. 29. The Bengals hired him soon after as a special assistant.

“That’s something I’d always said I would do,” Randall said.

He even told his teammates about his plans.

“I said it to a few guys on the sideline, maybe two or three plays before that,” he said.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield was not aware of Randall’s gesture until after the game.

“Oh, geez,” Mayfield said. “Surprising? No, not really out of Damarious.”

Jackson found Mayfield on the field after the game, but Mayfield described the pair’s interaction as “brief.”

“Didn’t feel like talking,” Mayfield said.

Why not?

“I don’t know,” Mayfield said. “Left Cleveland, goes down to Cincinnati. I don’t know. It’s just somebody that was in our locker room asking for us to play for him and then goes to a different team we play twice a year. Everybody can have their spin on it, but that’s how I feel.”

Mayfield said Jackson has become part of a “rivalry game.”

“That’s how it is now,” he said. “That’s how I’m going to treat it every time I play him. It’s nothing … you know … there’s no hate. That’s just how it is. That’s how I’m going to treat it, and I think that’s how our team’s treated it, too.”

Mayfield would not blame the Browns’ early struggles on Jackson or former offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who was fired the same day as Jackson. Mayfield said the team simply did not play well. He added that with Freddie Kitchens calling the plays, there is more belief.

“We just had to play better,” Mayfield said. “You can put your own spin on it, but we have the same players. We have people that we believe in calling the plays now.”

Randall was not offering much in the way of explanation.

“I never gave it to him when he was with the Browns, so, I mean …” he said.

His teammates thoroughly enjoyed the gesture.

“That was great,” safety Jabrill Peppers said. “That was probably the best part of the game. Because he had a pick-six. He had blockers, he had the sideline. He saw Hue, and he gave him the ball.

“So swaggy. The way he did it was just so swaggy, man. We need that. We need that to get the guys pumped up.”

Whether Randall had a touchdown on the play is debatable; what isn’t is that his teammates realize what they have in Randall.

“He’s Damarious,” running back Duke Johnson said while shaking his head.

The Browns’ victory Sunday snapped a 25-game road losing streak, dating to Oct. 11, 2015. On Friday, Randall vowed that the Browns would beat the Bengals if receiver A.J. Green didn’t play. Green missed the game with a toe injury, and the Browns scored touchdowns on their first three possessions on their way to winning their second in a row and improving to 4-6-1.

“My hat’s off to my team for going out there and taking care of business,” Randall said.

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