BEREA—Maybe, the Browns are on to something.
After spotting the Steelers a 7-0 lead on the third play of the game two weeks ago, the Browns came back and outscored them 20-7 to start their current three-game winning streak.
On Sunday, before the 62,422 fans sat down the Chiefs were leading 7-0, 12 seconds into the game as Jamaal Charles went over right guard and outraced the Browns 80 yards for a touchdown and.
However, after the first play, the Browns scored 30-straight points to win going away and improve their record to 5-8. It was the first time the Browns have won three games in a row since they won their final four in 2009. It was also the first time the Browns have won by as large a margin since beating the Cardinals, 44-6 on Nov. 16, 2003. It is also the first time they’ve scored 30 unanswered points since 1991 when the Browns beat the Colts, 31-0.
Safety T.J. Ward likened Charles’ touchdown to a bloody nose.
“You just have to stop the nosebleeds,” Ward said. “In the past, sometimes we might let a nosebleed keep running, and affect us the rest of the game. Right now, one thing goes wrong and we are onto the next play and looking to make a better play.”
Jabaal Sheard said the defense regrouped after the first play.
“The coaches made great adjustments,” Sheard said. “We continued to play hard and pushed the re-set button.”
To shut out the Chiefs for the 59:48 after the score was huge.
“It was an amazing effort, like usual,” Joe Haden said. “The first play we gave them a seven-point lead. Charles, you can’t take anything from him. He made a really good cut and he’s a really good running back. Stuff like that happens, but after that we just rallied. I just like the way how our defense just kept going. As soon as they got that first play, we just shut them down the rest of the game.”
As the defense was shutting down the Chiefs, the special teams sparked the Browns win. Rookie Travis Benjamin fielded a punt at the seven-yard line and raced 93 yards for a touchdown with 3:53 to play in the second quarter to give the Browns the lead for good at 10-7.
“It was a huge lift,” Pat Shurmur said. “It puts us ahead in a game. We just took an 80-yard punch for a touchdown. That was a punch in the gut. To get a play like that to put you back on top, is something that you always hope for in a game.”
The return by Benjamin was the longest in Browns’ history, edging out Eric Metcalf, who returned a punt 92 yards against the Bengals for a score in 1994.
The Browns employed a little trickery as Josh Cribbs was at first deep and then ran up to the line to go for the block and Benjamin dropped back.
“I knew (I would score) when I made the first person miss and saw brown jerseys ahead of me,” Benjamin said “When I saw Cribbs blocking the punter, I knew I had it.”
Cribbs, who is the last player to return a punt for a touchdown for the Browns is used to being the big play guy on special teams.
“It feels great especially because I was out there on the field and I helped him do it,” Cribbs said. “This is a selfless team. Even when I do good, they feel like they have so much to do with it and they did. My hat goes off to Travis. He’s doing such a good job, coming in on a whim and being able to perform at a high level. He’s doing great.”
Cribbs credited the coaching staff for the play.
“The coaches did a good job putting that in,” Cribbs said. “The play was more designed as a block. We did it a couple of times in practice. We tried to get the punt blocked up the middle.”
The return sparked the offense to put up 20 points in the second half.
“He’s so fast and it was so exciting to see him take that back,” Trent Richardson said. “Travis is the fastest man I’ve ever seen. He sparked the team and we feed off of each other. We were all hyped up and just went from there.”
Benjamin said he could feel the team build off of his return.
“It was a great momentum builder,” Benjamin said. “It was a great special team play. Those plays build momentum.”
In the fourth quarter, Cribbs returned a punt 38 yards to the Chiefs’ 35, to set up a 34-yard field goal by Phil Dawson to make the final score 30-7. Cribbs had three punt returns for 51 yards.
Cribbs said he’s sensing the Browns are coming together.
“I think it’s a lot of leadership, a lot of guys that are finding themselves,” Cribbs said. “That’s good on a football team.
“You can see us starting to turn the corner and starting to finish,” he said. “That’s all that’s left for us to do is finish. We get out to these good leads, we had that one hiccup when Jamaal Charles ran up the middle, but after the defense shut them down.
“The offense scored points at will and we kept scoring,” he said. “Special teams was just great today, all across the board. All phases showed up and that’s what happens.”
Haden said the Browns have been close for a while.
“It’s been like that for awhile,” Haden said. “We’ve been right there and at the end of the game. Now, at the end of the game we’re ready to make plays when our number is called.
“You know you have the ability to go out and win and you do it,” Haden said.
Haden is excited the Browns have put together a winning streak.
“It feels good, haven’t done this since Florida (college),” he said. “It’s a different feeling. It definitely feels good. Like I say every week, now we have to get ready for the Redskins. They’re a challenging opponent. Everybody is just feeling it. We are getting used to it and I like it a lot.”
“It really feels good,” Ward said. “It is the first time I have won three games in a row since I have been here. We have three more left. We are looking to improve and hopefully, just win the next game. “
Richardson, who scored two touchdowns, despite rushing for just 42 yards, said he’s excited for what he’s seeing.
“We’re putting something together here,” Richardson said. “We haven’t arrived yet, but we’re just trying to get to the next level and be a good team.
“There’s a lot of emotion and a lot of excitement because we’re so young” Richardson said. “Just to be a part of it is fun and great to be a part of.”
One/Two Punch: RB Montario Hardesty led the Browns with 52 yards on just 10 carries, including a 25-yard run. However, after he fumbled near the goal line, RB Trent Richardson was inserted and he scored his second touchdown of the game.
Shurmur said he was mad at himself for taking out Hardesty.
“I’m (mad) at myself,” Shurmur said. “Montario had carried the football and earned the chance to get the touchdown. I have confidence in him.”
Richardson rushed for just 42 yards, with his longest run being eight yards. However, he scored his eighth and ninth rushing touchdowns of the season. He also caught one pass for 9 yards and had a touchdown reception called back for offensive pass interference.
Richardson tied the single-season rookie record for touchdowns with RB Jim Brown who had nine touchdowns rushing in 1957. His total of 10 (9 rushing, 1 receiving) tied Eric Metcalf (1989)and Brown (1957).
Wildcat Sighting: The Browns employed the ‘Wildcat’ for the first time this season and WR Josh Cribbs carried twice for 15 yards. His second carry was for 12 yards and was stopped just short of the goal line setting up Richardson’s touchdown.
Shurmur was asked why the Wildcat?
“We did some fun stuff,” Shurmur said. “We thought it would be fun.”
The Browns also had an end around from Benjamin for 15 yards and WR Greg Little lined up in the backfield and ran for 17 yards to the one-yard line.
Phil Hits 300: K Phil Dawson kicked his 300th career field goal to become one of only 25 players to do so. Dawson admitted he was a little nervous before the 23-yard attempt in the first quarter.
“The 300 (career field goals) deal,” Dawson said. “Worked a long time to have a chance to get there and to be right on the doorstep sometimes is worse than being 50 away.”
Dawson is very happy to share his accomplishment with his teammates.
“I’m extremely grateful for all the teammates I’ve had that have helped me get to that,” he said. “Kansas City was coming extremely hard on the field goal rush today. After every field goal, I’m picking up three or four of my guys who are flat on their backs. Those guys never get credit for made field goals, but with 300 made or whatever it is now, there’s been countless guys that have given me the opportunity. I’m just really grateful for those guys.”
Dawson also went over the 100-point mark and now has 103 points on the season. He kicked three field goals and three PATs.
Dawson is the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history among kickers with 300 field goals or more at 84.1 percent. Former Browns K Matt Stover is at 83.7.
King of the AFC North: For the first time since 2007, the Browns won and all other three teams in the AFC North lost. The Ravens are 9-4, while the Steelers and Bengals are 7-6. The Browns are 4-3 at home with one game to play. They also are 3-0 against the AFC West.
Wide Receiver Day: WR Josh Gordon had 12 targets and caught eight passes for 86 yards (10.8 avg.) and WR Greg Little had seven targets with four receptions for 69 yards (17.3 avg.). Little also had a run for 17 yards. No other wide receivers caught a pass. TE Ben Watson had three receptions for 43 yards.
Weeden’s Day: QB Brandon Weeden was 17-of-30 for 217 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. His rating was 79.4. He was sacked three times and had one rush for 15 yards.
Gipson Pick: Rookie DB Tashaun Gipson had his first career interception on a deflected pass from DB Joe Haden. It was the only interception in the game.
Sack Brigade: The Browns combined for five sacks in the game. DL Frostee Rucker, DL Jabaal Sheard, DL John Hughes, DL Juqua Parker each had one sack, while LB D’Qwell Jackson and LB Kaluka Maiava combined for one. The Browns have 33 sacks on the season, more than they had last season .
Rude Homecoming: Romeo Crennel and Brian Daboll didn’t have a very good return to Cleveland as coaches, nor did the players. QB Brady Quinn was just 10-of-21 for 159 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. His rating was 53.5. He was sacked five times. RB Peyton Hillis had five carries for 11 yards and caught one pass for six yards. His longest run was for four yards. DL Shaun Smith had two tackles and DB Abe Elam was inactive.
Injury Update: LB James-Michael Johnson and DL Phil Taylor left the game with an injury, but both returned. Taylor injured his ankle and Johnson his thigh.