The Browns jumped out to an early lead and had things rolling, but the battle-tested Seahawks proved the value of their experience Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium, erasing a 20-6 deficit and completing a comeback for a 32-28 win over Cleveland.
Here are the six plays that changed the Browns’ fourth loss of the season.
1. Dontrell Hilliard’s 74-yard kick return
The Browns needed a fast start Sunday, and Dontrell Hilliard gave them that on the very first play of the game. Hilliard fielded the opening kick, cut upfield and burst into an open alley. It looked as if Hilliard would take the kick back for a touchdown but caught a case of the stumbles while in open space, allowing Seattle’s kick coverage team to recover and chase him down deep in Seahawks territory.
The opening return set the Browns up for a quick score via a 7-yard Nick Chubb touchdown run and an early lead, which is precisely what they needed against a Seahawks team that entered Sunday with a 4-1 record.
2. Russell Wilson’s 20-yard TD run
In what would be a recurring theme, the Seahawks wasted little time in answering the Browns’ opening score.
Russell Wilson directed the Seahawks on a seven-play, 75-yard drive that took just 4:09 and ended with the quarterback doing it himself, sprinting through a wide-open middle portion of the field for a touchdown. A missed Jason Myers PAT kept the Browns in the lead at 7-6, but the sequence proved what we’d all eventually learn: This game was going to be quite a ride.
3. Tedric Thompson intercepts Mayfield in end zone
With the ball and a 20-12 lead just before half, the Browns again got moving and found themselves on the edge of a potentially significant touchdown.
Such a touchdown ended up being scored by the Seahawks.
Odell Beckham Jr.’s acrobatic, almost inconceivable catch picked up 41 quick yards for the Browns, and Cleveland found itself on the Seattle 10 seven plays later when Mayfield dropped to pass and fired one to Jarvis Landry in the back of the end zone. The pass was slightly behind Landry’s momentum, glancing off his hands and ending in the arms of Seahawks defensive back Tedric Thompson for an interception.
“Just dropping back, just left it a little behind Jarvis,” Mayfield explained afterward. “Trying to keep him away from the safety but (the defender) made a good play on it.”
This was one of the three most important plays of the game because of the scoring swing it initiated. The Browns went from potentially going ahead 27-12 before the half to giving up a touchdown via Wilson’s pass to Jaron Brown, resulting in a 13-point swing that left the score at 20-18 at the half. In a game in which the Browns eventually lost by 4, this was crucial.
Check out photos of the Browns in action against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday
4. Nick Chubb’s 21-yard run after Michael Dickson’s poor punt
Trailing 25-20 midway through the fourth quarter, the Browns endured a wild sequence of events that included what looked to be a touchdown and eventually left them without the ball and any new points to speak of. Cleveland’s defense stiffened, though, forcing a three-and-out and a punt attempt in the shadow of Seattle’s own goal post. Perhaps the pressure of such a situation got to Seahawks punter Michael Dickson, who sent the ball off the side of his foot for a 23-yard punt that put the Browns right back into favorable field position.
Given a second chance, the Browns wasted little time, handing it to Chubb for a 21-yard gain that put them on the Seattle 2. This time around, Chubb took care of business, barreling into the end zone for a 26-25 lead that became a 28-25 lead on a successful two-point conversion.
5. Wilson pass to Tyler Lockett sets up game-winning TD
Ever the playmaker outside of the pocket, Wilson saved his best improvisation for last, rolling out and finding Lockett two straight times on a drive that saw the Seahawks reach the 1-yard line with 3:51 left to play in the game and the Browns leading 28-25. Wilson erased that deficit for one final time, again rolling right and waiting for Lockett to break off his route against the flow of the play. Once Lockett did, Wilson fired a pass to him for a completion and what was initially ruled as a touchdown. Replay overturned the score, putting the ball on to Cleveland’s 1.
Chris Carson finished the job on the next play, carrying the ball into the end zone to put the Seahawks ahead for good, 32-28.
6. Mayfield’s pass deflects off Dontrell Hilliard’s hands for interception
Mayfield finished the day with a stat line of 22-of-37 passing for 249 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Only one of those interceptions was what one might consider to be clean.
The last interception might have been the most disheartening, both because of how it essentially ended Cleveland’s hopes for a comeback, and because of how avoidable it was.
Trailing 32-28 and facing second-and-15 with 2:46 left, Mayfield dropped to pass. He found Hilliard in the flat, where linebacker K.J. Wright was racing toward Hilliard. It was a fortuitous sprint, for it also brought him a gift in the form of a live football.
The ball deflected off Hilliard’s open hands and upward, where Wright was there to intercept it, killing Cleveland’s last drive and all but assuring victory for the Seahawks. The Browns never touched the ball again.