Browns HC Kevin Stefanski likes effort plays.
Cleveland had a crucial effort play with less than a minute and a half left in Sunday's game against the Ravens that involved all 11 offensive players. It began at the hands and feet of RB Jerome Ford, who rushed for a first down on a 12-yard carry. It would eventually help set the Browns up for the game-winning field goal to beat the Ravens 33-31.
"We play for each other and on that play, Jerome [Ford] did a great job getting those yards," RB Kareem Hunt said. "Just hit it and go. He found a way. We crowded him and he just kept working."
As the Browns lined up for a first-and-10 at the Baltimore 40-yard line with 1:24 left in the fourth quarter, Ford took a handoff from QB Deshaun Watson in the backfield. Ford took off, cutting up the middle where he saw a hole in the Ravens defense and ran to about the 35-yard line before a Ravens defender tried to tackle him.
Yet, that didn't stop Ford.
He continued running, even as other Ravens defenders tried to bring him down. But they couldn't. As his teammates saw Ford continuing to push forward, the offensive line surrounded him from behind and began pushing Ford forward. WR Elijah Moore even came on the side to help push as the remainder of the Ravens defense piled up on the opposite side, trying to stop Ford's movement.
The Browns offensive line forced Ford past the first-down mark all the way to the 27-yard line for a gain of 12 yards.
"We coach effort, we talk about effort," Stefanski said. "We talked about that game was going to require a 60-minute effort. And to see all those guys, especially Elijah (Moore) in the back, his teammates got a kick out of that one."
Ford described the play as a power play. As he ran and got to the second level of the defense, it came to a stalemate. At least he thought so.
"All I could think was hold on to the ball and keep my feet turning," Ford said. "And then out of nowhere I felt a push and I felt a bigger push and I'm just in the pile. The Ravens in there ripping at the ball. I'm just like, hold on to the ball. I'm holding on and I'm like, 'is the play going to be over? They still pushing it.'"
The pile eventually fell, and Ford was brought to the ground to end the play. Yet, their success in moving the chains for a first down proved critical in helping set K Dustin Hopkins up for the game-winning field goal just four plays later.
Following the game, Stefanski said that Ford's 12-yard carry with the push from the entire team was his favorite play of the game. Stefanski said that Ford ran hard throughout Sunday's game, as they faced a tough Ravens run defense that found ways to limit the long runs for the Browns.
This season, Ford has found success in longer gains, as he's rushed for 532 yards this season on 124 carries. He's rushed for two 69-yard gains this season. Yet, on Sunday, Ford's longest run was a gain of 28 yards, as he averaged 6.3 yards per carry. He continued to chip away on each carry throughout the game, and he rushed for 107 yards on 17 carries on Sunday, which is a both a season and career-high for Ford. His 12-yard carry in the final drive sealed off a solid run game performance for Ford.
"To see all 11 in the frame, pushing their buddy, pushing their brother, that's what this team is about," Stefanski said. "They're about that fight, and that was on display right there."