The Browns rolled through the Eagles for a 22-17 Week 11 win that improved their record to 7-3, their best record after 10 games since 1994, and pushed them a step further in their push to the playoffs. The offense used big — and, at times, hurdle-filled — runs from their running backs to find the end zone. And even though the Browns were without defensive end Myles Garrett, the defense still made punishing plays against the Eagles' offense.
Here are the plays that mattered most in the win:
1. Browns force red-zone takeaway on first Eagles' drive
Cleveland was without two of its top defensive playmakers when the Eagles entered the red zone on their first drive of the game.
Garrett, who entered Sunday with the NFL lead with 9.5 sacks and was tied for the lead with four forced fumbles, was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday. Safety Ronnie Harrison Jr., who was on the field for every defensive snap in Week 10, exited the field earlier in the drive to get looked at by the medical staff.
But the absences of two top players didn't stop the defense from halting an early threat from Philadelphia. Running back Miles Sanders lost his grip on the ball as he moved through the trenches at Cleveland's 5-yard line. Safety Karl Joseph, who entered in relief of Harrison, pounced on the ball and sealed the turnover.
That was only the start of a massive day from the defense.
2. Sione Takitaki seals first career pick-six
The Browns defense re-invigorated their turnover abilities Sunday in quick fashion.
When quarterback Carson Wentz, who led the NFL with 12 interceptions entering Week 11, dropped back for a second-and-7 from Cleveland's 46-yard line, he didn't see cornerback Denzel Ward bringing pressure. Ward got a piece of Wentz's throwing arm, and the ball sailed high in the air.
Takitaki was in the area and had plenty of time to make the catch and sprint to the end zone. He dropped to his knees and held out his arms once he crossed the goal line and celebrated with teammates to cap off the biggest play of his NFL career.
The Browns were up 7-0, and the defense was eating into the Eagles' offense early.
Check out photos of the Eagles against the Browns
3. Mayfield fumbles, Eagles recover in the red zone
The Browns' first drive of the second half took a quick and unfortunate turn on second-and-8 from Cleveland's 30-yard line.
As Mayfield maneuvered through the pocket for a pass attempt, Pro Bowl DT Fletcher Cox swatted his hand at the football, which slipped away from Mayfield's grasp and fell backwards into an empty backfield. No Browns players saw the fumble — the ball was behind all of them — which made it easy for Eagles linebacker Alex Singleton to pounce on it at the 19-yard line.
The Eagles quickly turned the takeaway into points and threw a touchdown on the next play to even the score at 7-7.
4. Vernon sacks Wentz in the end zone for a safety
The Browns defensive line thrived without its best player against the Eagles' offense.
Even though Garrett wasn't on the field with them, each player from the defensive line had bright moments Sunday. None was bigger than Olivier Vernon's game-changing play in the third quarter.
Vernon recorded his third sack of the game when he sacked Wentz into the end zone grass for a safety that put the Browns up 12-7. Vernon, as well as Larry Ogunjobi, Sheldon Richardson and Adrian Clayborn, all stepped up with big games to fill the void from Garrett. Vernon, meanwhile, recorded the most sacks by a Browns player since Garrett in Week 2 of last season.
5. Hunt flies over defender for second TD
Kareem Hunt took flight with 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter — literally.
Hunt appeared to run on air as he hurdled over Jalen Mills to reach the pylon for a 5-yard touchdown run that put the Browns up 19-10 after a successful PAT. He originally broke a tackle from a defender in the backfield before he turned the corner and prepared his leap, and he landed in the end zone when both feet finally returned to the ground.
The unbelievable play followed another special run from another Browns running back. Nick Chubb broke free for a 54-yard run just two plays earlier, and his big play also featured a few broken tackles and shifty jukes.
Cleveland has turned to its run game to seal wins all season. That plan worked again Sunday.
6. Ward intercepts Wentz to finish the win
A full four-quarter effort from the defense was capped off in grand fashion from "The Warden."
On the play directly after he was called for pass interference, cornerback Denzel Ward leaped and grabbed a high pass attempt intended for wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. The Eagles were threatening at Cleveland's 10-yard line for a late-game touchdown that would've brought the score to within one possession, but Ward capitalized on the errant pass for the Browns' second interception and third turnover of the afternoon.
The Eagles received the ball back with just over a minute left and scored a touchdown, which made Ward's red-zone interception even more important to secure the win.