In Week 4, the Cleveland Browns looked good.
No, not just good; they looked great in a 49-38 win over the Dallas Cowboys — which is insane, considering everything Browns fans have had to cope with, for the better part of two decades.
The first quarter led everyone watching to believe this game would become a shootout. They weren’t wrong, but for a team like the Cleveland Browns, shootouts have not been easy to come by. After a Dallas three-and-out, the Browns scored the first points of the game on a quick three-play drive, with an insane trick play where Jarvis Landry threw a 37-yard touchdown to fellow WR Odell Beckham, Jr. which is a glorious sight for any football fan.
Unfortunately, a few plays later, Dak Prescott found a wide-open CeeDee Lamb for a 43-yard touchdown and the Cleveland secondary was exposed… again. (We don’t need to talk about that; this is a celebratory piece.) The Cowboys defense stopped the Cleveland offense for the rest of the quarter while scoring one more touchdown — an absurd, thread-the-needle throw to Amari Cooper on 4th-and-2 to go up 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.
I will quote Anakin Skywalker when I say, “This is where the fun begins.”
Marching down the field — mostly without Nick Chubb who left the game with a knee injury — the Browns scored another touchdown to OBJ, this time, catching a pass from Baker Mayfield with 13:08 left in the second quarter. The very next drive, Prescott coughed up the ball on a wonderful strip-sack by Myles Garrett, who notched a sack in the first quarter, as well. A few runs here, play-action there, and boom, another touchdown by Baker Mayfield, this time to Austin Hooper, who finally decided to make something of himself in a Browns uniform!
As the late Billy Mays would say, “But wait! There’s more!” The Browns defense wasn’t done yet! The first play was a fumble by Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, thanks to Andrew Sendejo (who was at the top of every Browns fan’s hit list until that moment), which led to another score, a two-yard rushing touchdown for Kareem Hunt. The half ended with a field goal from everybody’s favorite kicker, Cody “Double-Doink” Parkey to make the score 31-14.
The Browns posted 24 unanswered points in the second quarter, and more points in the first half than I had in my prediction for the full game.
The Cleveland Browns received the second-half kickoff, and it became more of the same. Run the football, a few nice passes, and the drive is finished with a 14-yard rushing touchdown from — you guessed it — Kareem Hunt. At this point in the game, the Dallas Cowboys defense allowed over 200 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the ground, and I feel bad saying this, but… there were still ten minutes left in the third quarter. After stopping the Cowboys offense again, this time on a 4th-and-3, the Browns offense drained the clock long enough to get into field goal range for Cody Parkey to make the score 41-14 with 38 seconds left in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter began with a three-minute drive, capped off by a three-yard touchdown run by Cowboys RB Tony Pollard, alongside a two-point conversion that seemed to be the catalyst for Dallas’ comeback attempt. At this point, the Browns need to run the clock down as much as possible, but in typical Dak Prescott fashion, he came alive in the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys offense ran a no-huddle, and Prescott scored a 26-yard touchdown to TE Dalton Schultz with another two-point conversion to make it an 11-point game with six-and-a-half minutes left.
Like clockwork, Prescott marched down the field and throws a five-yard touchdown pass to CeeDee Lamb, and after a quick reverse to Amari Cooper on the two-point conversion (now a perfect 3-for-3), it became a three-point game. The Browns responded in the best way possible, with a 50-yard touchdown by OBJ followed by a two-point conversion of their own, to go up 49-38 with three-and-a-half minutes left in the game.
The Cowboys’ final offensive drive ended just like Week 3 against Seattle, with a Dak Prescott interception in the red zone, near the goal line.
With three straight wins to go 3-1, good for second place in the AFC North, this Cleveland team looks like it is finally meshing into the explosive offense we all expected.
A tough match-up looms in Week 5 against the Indianapolis Colts — a team with a much better defense than the Cowboys, and a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback leading the way.
It seems that the Browns will have to test their grit again against another talented team and prove why they shouldn’t be overlooked, come December.
(Featured Image Credit: ClevelandBrowns.com)