CLEVELAND, Ohio — There’s a term that often goes with teams that lean on the running game.
It’s understandable. Keeping the ball on the ground is often boring and predictable.
The Browns are a running team, at least right now. But just because Kevin Stefanski and the Browns lean on the run doesn’t mean they are a conservative offense.
The proof comes in the first and third touchdowns from Odell Beckham Jr. in the Browns’ 49-38 win vs. the Cowboys on Sunday.
It’s rare that a coach calls an end around receiver pass on the first drive of the game. It’s even more rare to see an end around in the final minutes of a close game, let alone one where the team that runs it has given up 24 points in a row and was trying to run out the clock.
Both were touchdowns.
As the old Latin proverb says, “fortune favors the bold.” And in a game where the Browns needed to put up points, being bold was a good idea.
The touchdown pass from Jarvis Landry to Beckham in the first quarter was sort of bold since it’s easy to call a trick play at the beginning of a game. But regardless, it’s always a creative wrinkle when you get a receiver to throw a touchdown to another.
The end around in the fourth quarter, however, was about as bold as it gets. Beckham nearly got tackled in the backfield by Dallas’ Aldon Smith for a loss of at least 10 yards. But that’s where the athleticism and explosiveness of Beckham make a bold call really work.
Despite Smith nearly blowing the play up, Beckham was barely touched as he raced past the Dallas defense for 50 yards and the game-clinching touchdown.
But the play might not have worked if it didn’t go to Beckham. NFL’s Next Gen Stats tweeted that the play had fewer than a one percent chance of going for a touchdown.
Even though Dallas had 10 players within five yards of the line of scrimmage before the snap, no one might have faulted the Browns for simply handing the ball off to Kareem Hunt. He had been running well despite a groin injury. In fact, prior to the play, he was second on the team in rushing yards at 71 on 11 carries.
But in the most important time of the game, Stefanski said no to the conventional handoff. He was bold at a time in the game where coaches are rarely that bold.
Players make coaches look good sometimes. But if Stefanski doesn’t give Beckham that chance, he doesn’t deliver the exclamation point on what right now is a signature win for Stefanski.
It’s just proof that just because you lean on the running game, it doesn’t make you a conservative offense.
On Browns news
Beckham shows what he meant by wanting to “kill” season — Beckham showed on Sunday why the Browns gave up the package he did in order to get him more than a year ago with his first multi-touchdown game for Cleveland. He reflected on his massive performance when speaking to reporters after the game.
How Landry became the Browns’ most clutch receiver — Landry has been a crucial target for Baker Mayfield throughout their first three years together. Ellis L. Williams wrote after Sunday’s game about Landry’s clutch play after he made four catches for first downs in the second quarter alone.
Browns rush for 300 yards despite losing Nick Chubb — One of the big concerns, if not the biggest, coming out of Sunday’s game is the status of Nick Chubb, who left late in the first quarter with a knee injury and did not return. The Browns won’t know his status until after an MRI on Monday. But in spite of his injury, the Browns still rushed for more than 300 yards for the first time in nearly 11 years.
Stefanski making the Browns a team to be known — Fox’s Daryl Johnston twice mispronounced Kevin Stefanski’s name, calling him Stefanek. That was early in the Browns’ win on Sunday. Afterwards, Doug Lesmerises wrote about how Stefanski has made the Browns a team to pay attention to.
Porter Gustin used to surprising people — Porter Gustin has been a solid rotational defensive end for the Browns since signing as an undrafted free agent during the 2019 season. He forced his way onto the roster in camp, taking a spot away from 2018 third-round pick Chad Thomas. Dan Labbe examined how Gustin has been catching people off guard long before he became a Brown.
Stories from around the league
Patriots-Chiefs tentatively pushed to Monday — After Cam Newton’s positive COVID-19 test, the Patriots’ game vs. the Chiefs was pushed until at least Monday night. The NFL will determine that day whether the game will be played depending on test results.
Steelers-Titans rescheduled to Week 7— The Titans were scheduled to play the Steelers on Sunday. But that game was postponed after an outbreak of COVID-19 on the Titans involving players and staffers on the team. The game will be played in Week 7, meaning the two teams will play 13 straight weeks to end the season. Read about it in Wednesday’s NFL roundup.
JC Tretter pushes for more grass fields — Tretter, the NFLPA’s president, spoke to reporters on Wednesday about how he believes NFL teams should go away from turf and go to natural grass in all stadiums. He pointed out how injury rates increase on turf fields when compared to grass fields.
Also, check out the NFL roundups from Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Listen to our postgame podcast where our staff breaks down the Browns’ big win on Sunday.
On Wednesday’s episode of the Orange and Brown Talk podcast, Mary Kay Cabot spoke with Browns chief of staff Callie Brownson about a historic Week 3 game in Cleveland and her coach’s thoughts on Kevin Stefanski saying she will be a head coach one day.
New Browns face masks for sale: Here’s where you can buy Cleveland Browns-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection for adults and youth, including a single mask ($14.99) and a 3-pack ($24.99). All NFL proceeds donated to CDC Foundation.
More Browns coverage
Odell Beckham Jr. clinches 49-38 victory over Cowboys with his 3rd TD of the day for the Browns’ first 3-1 start since 2001
Kevin Stefanek, err, Kevin Stefanski leading a Cleveland Browns team that needs to be known: Doug Lesmerises
Grade Baker Mayfield’s performance against the Cowboys in Week 3: Poll
Pick a word: Spectacular? Stunning? Scary? Browns all that and more as they win in Dallas – Terry Pluto
Running and blocking is working for the Browns: 3 Quick Postgame Thoughts
See social media reaction to Sunday’s game
How the Browns transformed Jarvis Landry into the most clutch receiver on the field in a win over the Cowboys: Film review
Why I was wrong about the Browns on Sunday
Watch the Browns recover a blocked extra point for a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter vs. the Cowboys
Watch Odell Beckham Jr. score on a 50-yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter vs. the Cowboys
Cleveland Browns halftime scribbles: Offense superb, Myles Garrett’s big sacks – Terry Pluto
Watch Myles Garrett strip sack Dak Prescott for his third forced fumble in as many games
Watch Odell Beckham Jr. make his second touchdown catch vs. the Cowboys
Watch Jarvis Landry’s touchdown throw to Odell Beckham Jr. in the first quarter vs. the Cowboys