CLEVELAND — Browns fans woke up this morning to another Victory Monday celebration following Cleveland's win over the Chicago Bears. The run game was explosive, led by Kareem Hunt, and the defense came into their own with a record-breaking performance by Myles Garrett, but there was another player who also had dominant outing as well—Chase McLaughlin.
The Browns have had their kicking woes for some time, most recently replacing Greg Joseph with Austin Seibert, then Seibert with Cody Parkey. There was a kicking battle between Parkey and McLaughlin in this year's training camp after McLaughlin was signed via waivers from the Jets in May. McLaughlin took the job when Parkey injured his quad and was placed on the Reserve/Injured list before the start of the season.
While many fans have been wary of putting too much trust in the kicker on any given Sunday, McLaughlin may have helped to put them at ease after a record-breaking outing.
McLaughlin's first field goal attempt of the day was a doozy. A 57-yarder, McLaughlin was given quite the challenge as he swung his leg on the ball.
"It was not my best hit, but it felt good," McLaughlin said, recalling the attempt.
And it was. McLaughlin put the Browns on the board and tied the game up 3-3 with the field goal, which was the longest field goal made by a Browns kicker in FirstEnergy Stadium. It tied for the third-longest in Browns history with Don Cockroft, just under Steve Cox's record 60-yard and 58-yard field goals.
But he wasn't done yet.
McLaughlin's next go was a touch easier than his first, lining up for a 41-yard attempt and making it to give the Browns a double-digit lead early in the second half.
The Browns put McLaughlin's leg to the test again in the fourth quarter on a 52-yard field goal that he made with ease. That field goal put McLaughlin alongside legendary Browns kicker Phil Dawson as the only two players to make at least two 50-plus yard field goals in a single game.
McLaughlin's final attempt was a breezy 28-yard field goal, and by that point there was little doubt he'd make it.
In all, McLaughlin had a perfect day, nailing all four of his field goal attempts and both of his extra point attempts. He now boasts a 5-for-5 field goal record and 9-for-9 extra point record this season.
The outing was one that head coach Kevin Stefanski said he knew he was capable of and his confidence has been steadfast since watching McLaughlin through camp and practice sessions.
"I've had a ton of confidence in him. That's because I see him do it at practice. He goes out there pregame and had a really good warm-up, so, felt good about the length of that 57-yarder, and he's been very consistent," Stefanski said. "That's what we're going to need from him moving forward."
Will we see more trust put into McLaughlin as the weeks go on and as the Browns prepare for their Week 4 match-up with the Vikings? Stefanski said he and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will be smart about it, like all of the decisions across the three phases of the game.
"I think one of his strengths is his leg strength. When you go and play in a dome like we are this week, I think you get through pregame and see where the number is," Stefanski said. "Prief and I talk, and I know the yard line we've got to get to to feel good about it. I know the yard line we've got to get to where we're going to have to make a decision, but Prief was confident in that moment, the kid is confident, so I think we'll see how it goes by the conditions."
Stefanski and the Browns will be aggressive this year. We've seen that with the numerous 4th down attempts and edgy calls. So McLaughlin won't always be called upon like other teams with a lesser offense.
But even if McLaughlin isn't trotted out often, with three games in orange and brown under his belt and a perfect record so far, Browns fans may be able to breathe a little easier when the kicker trots onto the field.
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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