CLEVELAND - Fun was the adjective the Browns used to describe their victory over the Chiefs Sunday.
That’s right, fun, not nail-biting, stressful or squandered. Pure, unadulterated entertainment was on display at Cleveland Browns Stadium, with trick plays abound in the Browns’ 30-7 win.
“The flow was really, really good especially on those drives where we were able to get points,” quarterback Brandon Weeden said.
Travis Benjamin catapulted it all, answering a big bang 80-yard touchdown run from Jamaal Charles on the Chiefs’ opening play from scrimmage with a 93-yard punt return, breaking the Browns record for longest punt return set by Eric Metcalf in 1994 on a 92-yard touchdown.
Benjamin switched spots with Josh Cribbs on the play called 'Bonsai,' where Cribbs moves up to try to block the punt. Instead, it sprung a touchdown.
“It’s a very dangerous duo knowing that me and Cribbs are back there,” Benjamin said. “They're gonna try to kick it away from Cribbs so I have to build the momentum and build my name.”
Trent Richardson described Benjamin as "the fastest man I’ve ever, ever seen in person.” Weeden called Benjamin’s return the biggest play of the game. Up 10-7, the Browns went on the attack, opening up the playbook.
“We did some fun stuff and it worked out. We could’ve run two wildcat plays and you guys would’ve been happy,” Shurmur said to the press.
Shurmur’s usually answering questions about 3rd or 4th and short playcalling decisions but this week they were about new offensive formations. So why the wildcat 14 weeks into the season?
“We just thought it’d be fun,” Shurmur said.
Fun - that was the buzzword after all.
The offensive chicanery gave Weeden a chance to try some different stuff, like blocking from the receiver spot. The “trick plays" got the Browns to the doorstep, Josh Cribbs coming up short on a snap from the wildcat and Greg Little on a toss from the backfield, places the two aren’t typically lined up.
“Anytime you do plays like that it’s tough on defenses,” Weeden said.
Cribbs and Little, as well as Josh Gordon, became part of what Shurmur jokingly coined the “tackled on the one” crowd.
“They all had their shots. I’m sure they’re gonna try to let that nickname go away,” Shurmur said.
Their work didn’t go for naught though, setting up Trent Richardson at a place where he can excel.
“When you have a running back that has a nose for the goal line, you want him to have those opportunities,” Shurmur said.
Richardson seized those, reaching paydirt twice and earning a Browns milestone, tying Jim Brown’s franchise record of nine rushing touchdowns as a rookie.
“Something like that is an honor. Jim Brown is an icon and always will be. He’s one of those guys you wanna follow in his footsteps every which way you go in the football division,” Richardson said.
Those two scores aided what became a Browns blowout, the defense suffocating Brady Quinn, last week’s AFC Offensive Player of the Week, and the Chiefs offense once Dwayne Bowe left the game with a rib injury. Come the fourth quarter, the Browns had a big lead and that was a new feeling.
“I’m not used to that math,” Shurmur said teasingly, the Browns up three scores.
For now, the Browns remain mathematically alive in the playoff race, clinging to life at 5-8. They’ll need help but they have a shot.
“We’re just thinking about winning. We’re still in the hunt,” Montario Hardesty said after one of his best games of the season.
“Guys are excited," Weeden said. "We realize we’re in a tough spot but we still have a chance. Crazy things have happened.”
Crazy as it might be, it’s not impossible. December is here and the Browns won’t just be playing the role of spoiler, at least not next week, with playoff implications for both them and their opponent the Redskins.
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