The Cleveland Browns got a boost in their quest to obtain their first winning season since 2007 with a ridiculously fun 49-38 win against the Cowboys in Texas on Sunday. The win gave them a 3-1 record and, perhaps more importantly, the general vibe of a team that’s fun to watch on television and isn’t at all embarrassing to their city.
After completely failing to make good on too-high expectations in 2019, the Browns came into this year flying somewhat under the radar, with new head coach and ex-Vikings assistant Kevin Stefanski replacing the much sillier Freddie Kitchens. Their first game, a 38-6 disaster of a loss to the Ravens, didn’t make much of a case that they had improved upon the mediocrity that’s been their last couple of campaigns. But in the past few weeks, a three-game winning streak against the lower tier of the NFL has rehabbed the Browns into something resembling a respectable team.
For a neutral, though, what mattered about today’s win was just that Cleveland’s offense looked awesome and unpredictable. Using the talents of Kareem Hunt, Baker Mayfield, and Odell Beckham—just to name the most prominent few—the Browns put an avalanche of points on the board in the game’s first 45 minutes, and when the dust settled at the end of the third, they were leading 41-14.
It was the first of these touchdowns that was their most creative and fun. On their fourth play from scrimmage, a halfback toss evolved into a reverse for Jarvis Landry, who rolled out into open space and chucked a lefty pass 40 yards downfield to the end zone, where Beckham stood waiting patiently with practically no serious coverage. Yeah, the Browns did this! Check it out:
The fourth quarter of this game was way nervier for the guys in orange, as the Cleveland D surrendered three straight Cowboy TDs to find themselves only leading by three. But another inventive play with the ball at midfield—one that initially looked like a hot mess but blossomed into something beautiful—helped secure the win.
The Browns’ attempt at a play-action up the middle into a legit end-around for Beckham was read perfectly by Aldon Smith on the other side of the ball, but unfortunately for Smith, he just didn’t have the speed to keep up with the star wideout. It looked like the Dallas DE had a chance to bring Beckham down for a loss of as many as 15 yards, but OBJ simply couldn’t be touched and eventually started running in the right direction. Once he had his bearings, Beckham sliced through the defense in a way that should be impossible. There were nine Cowboy defenders in front of him as he crossed the line of scrimmage, and yet Beckham was able to sprint down the sideline for six.
And even though the extra point following that score was blocked, the Browns caught a break—wait. The Browns … caught … a break? That doesn’t sound right. Hm. Well. Just watch the weirdest two-point conversion you’ll ever see and try to make sense of it for yourself.
It’s not really worth drawing big conclusions about future achievements from this one wacky game, since the only good team the Browns have played still compacted them into a little cube. But the expectations don’t even need to be that high. The Browns played a really enjoyable game on Sunday and got the win. That’s not something anyone gets to say all that often.