In Week 1, the Browns never led. In Week 2, they rarely trailed.
Week 3 presented a brand new dynamic for the 2020 Browns, and they came away victorious in their first back-and-forth, traditional NFL Sunday matchup of the season.
The Browns fell behind early, stormed back with a big second quarter, weathered a sloppy start to the second half and put the game away in the fourth with the same recipe that worked oh so well the previous week. Cleveland, spearheaded by five forced turnovers, rattled off back-to-back touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take control and ultimately down Washington, 34-20, on a sun-soaked afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium.
"It was a game where we went down in the game a couple times and the guys came back," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "That is a big piece of this is being resilient.
"(Washington) is a tough team. You saw what they did in the first couple games where they came back. We knew it was a 60-minute fight. We talked to the guys about that all week and even today so we were totally ready for that."
The Browns moved to 2-1, giving them a winning record as they head to Dallas next week for a showdown with the Cowboys. Washington fell to 1-2.
Nick Chubb cleared 100 yards and found the end zone twice for his second consecutive game. He led the Browns rushing attack with 19 carries for 108 yards on a day in which the yards didn't initially come as easy as they did against the Bengals.
Kareem Hunt added 46 yards, most of which coming in the fourth quarter, and a receiving touchdown — his third score of the season.
"The Washington Football Team has a great defense. We knew it was not going to be easy, but we take pride in those 2-yard dirty runs and those 0-yard dirty runs because we know it takes a toll on the team, and eventually, we will bust one," Chubb said. "The whole game everybody kept telling me, 'Just be patient. It is going to pop. It is going to pop.' I think it worked for us."
Baker Mayfield weathered Washington's daunting pass rush and played a clean game. He finished 16-of-23 for 156 yards and two touchdowns.
Check out photos of the Browns against the Washington Football Team
Odell Beckham Jr. led the Browns with four catches for 59 yards — his last one serving as the biggest. His 15-yard reception on third-and-long late in the third quarter jump-started a Browns offense that was stuck in the mud to start the second half.
"That was unfair to the team how we performed coming at halftime," Stefanski said. "Listen, this is the National Football League, and you are going to get some really good attacks. That is a talented group over there. We knew they were going to be able to make a few plays. We just want to limit them."
The Browns defense not only limited them; they made plenty of their own.
Washington's Dwayne Haskins found some early success against a Browns defense that brought back a handful of players — Kevin Johnson, Mack Wilson — but was without Denzel Ward for the second half. It wasn't sustainable, though, as the former Buckeyes star threw three interceptions and finished 21-of-37 for 224 yards and two touchdowns.
"All of the turnovers were big in the game," LB B.J. Goodson said. "Pregame and all week, we have been talking about feeding off each other's energy and making plays so I thought we did a great job of that today."
Trailing by 3 entering the fourth quarter, the Browns took control with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Harrison Bryant's first career touchdown. Mayfield rolled to his right and found the fourth-round pick sprinting across the middle of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown.
Goodson's interception, Cleveland's third of the day, on the ensuing possession set up the Browns with a short field and an ideal situation to pound the ball on the ground. Chubb finished off the drive with a 20-yard scamper down the left sidelines for his fourth touchdown of the season.
Myles Garrett put an end to any hopes of a Washington comeback when he strip-sacked Haskins — his second sack of the game — and recovered the fumble on his own with 6:30 to play.
"That is really what we expect from Myles," Stefanski said. "I know he expects it of himself. We need him to play great, and when it turns into a pass-rush game, he is built for that. I thought he did a great job."
The Browns offense didn't exactly carry over the momentum it generated the previous week against the Bengals. Washington struck first on a Haskins touchdown pass to Dontrelle Inman to take a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter, and the Browns didn't put points on the scoreboard until Cody Parkey's 42-yard field goal at the 10:46 mark in the second.
Two big turnovers, though, led to two Browns scores and pushed them to a 17-7 halftime advantage.
Safety Karl Joseph got the Browns' first interception of the season when he corralled a deep Haskins pass intended for Logan Thomas. He turned it around with a wild 49-yard return that ended with a fumble, which fortunately bounced into the arms of Tavierre Thomas. Chubb took it from there, zigging, zagging and powering his way into the end zone on a 16-yard touchdown run.
"One thing we learned is that turnovers come in bunches," Joseph said. "It was great for me to start it off, and then you saw how that trickled down. Other guys started getting other opportunities and capitalized on it. We are always cheering for each other.
"I was grateful that Tavierre was able to get on that fumble. It almost broke my heart. That was great effort on his part to be on the spot."
With less than 2 minutes to play in the half, LB Malcolm Smith stepped in front of a short pass intended for Inman, intercepted it and set up the Browns with another short field at Washington's 24-yard line. Three plays later, Mayfield found Kareem Hunt for a 9-yard touchdown pass to put Cleveland ahead by two scores.
Washington, though, sliced into Cleveland's 10-point halftime advantage midway through the third quarter and took the lead a few minutes later.
Set up with a short field, Washington drove 49 yards on six plays and capped the possession with an Antonio Gibson touchdown run. Dustin Hopkins missed the extra point to keep the Browns' advantage at four points.
Washington used another short field to its advantage on its next drive, converted a key fourth down and found the end zone on third-and-goal from the 11. Haskins' 11-yard touchdown pass to Inman staked Washington to a 20-17 lead with 2:20 left in the third.
It was the last points the Browns would surrender, as the defense and running game took over in the fourth quarter.
"Anytime your defense can take it away that many times, you want to help those guys out," Mayfield said. "You want to feed off the energy, and that is what we did in the second half. Kudos to our defensive guys for taking the ball away that many times."