The Browns stunned the undefeated 49ers on Sunday with a late fourth quarter drive and hung on for the 19-17 win after a missed field goal by San Francisco.
After forcing a three-and-out with just under 3 minutes to play, the Browns got the ball back down one point to the undefeated 49ers. Starting at their own 20-yard line, the Browns marched their way down the field. QB P.J. Walker threw two incomplete passes on the first two downs, and on the third, the 49ers had a penalty that moved the ball to the 41-yard line and gave the Browns a first down.
RB Jerome Ford ran for 13 yards on the ensuing play and put the Browns at the 50-yard line. After a defensive holding penalty helped move the chains again, Ford ran for 22 yards to give the Browns another first down in the red zone. The Browns stalled from there but set up Dustin Hopkins for a 29-yard field goal.
The Browns almost watched their lead slip away, but the 49ers' 41-yard field goal attempt with 9 seconds to play missed wide right.
The Browns improved to 3-2 on the season, while the 49ers lost their first game of the season and are 5-1.
Sunday's game was filled with key moments on both sides of the ball. The final defensive stop on the 49ers' final drive to force a field goal attempt was the epitome of what the Browns were able to do defensively all throughout the game.
The Browns defense continued to excel on Sunday. With about 10 minutes left in the third quarter, Martin Emerson Jr. intercepted a pass from 49ers QB Brock Purdy and returned the interception for 13 yards. Not only was it Emerson's first career interception, but it was also Purdy's first interception of the season. It served as a momentum swing for the Browns in Cleveland Browns Stadium. The Browns defense continued to excel throughout Sunday's game.
Offensively, RB Kareem Hunt's 16-yard touchdown run to put the Browns on the board. The Browns snapped the ball directly to TE Harrison Bryant, who pitched the ball to Hunt, and Hunt found a hole to run right into the end zone. As the Browns celebrated their first touchdown of the game, the sun broke through the clouds and illuminated Cleveland Browns Stadium in sunlight.
Then, Hopkins' game-winning field goal from 29 yards out sealed the win for the Browns. They put Hopkins in great field position in the red zone for the kick, and as the ball soared through the uprights, the crowd erupted in cheers.
Player(s) of the game:
The Browns offense struggled to reach the end zone after Hunt's touchdown, but Hopkins' success in the kicking game proved essential throughout the game. He made four-of-five field goal attempts. His 46-yard field goal in the third quarter gave the Browns their first lead of the game. Then his 29-yard field goal attempt with less than 2 minutes in the fourth quarter put the Browns up 19-17, and ultimately was the game-winner for the Browns.
Ford's fourth quarter play set the Browns up to win the game. With a 22-yard run to put the Browns in the red zone, it set Hopkins up for the final field goal of the game. Ford finished the day with 84 yards on 17 carries.
Not only did Hunt score the Browns' only touchdown on the day, but he was effective in both the run and pass game in moving the ball downfield. He finished the game with 47 rushing yards on 12 carries as well as 24 receiving yards on three catches.
Cooper had a 58-yard reception to but the Browns in great field position in the first half. Then, on the opening drive of the third quarter, Cooper had a catch on the sideline for 27 yards that eventually set the Browns up for a field goal. Cooper finished the game with four catches for 108 reception yards.
Stat of the game:
22 - Ford's longest run of the game that set up the Browns for the game-winning field goal by Hopkins. Ford finished the game with 84 rushing yards on 17 carries.
What does it mean?
The Browns beat one of two undefeated teams left in the NFL with their 19-17 win over the 49ers. But more importantly, as the Browns dealt with a number of injuries heading into the game – QB Deshaun Watson and G Joel Bitonio out, as well as QB P.J. Walker earning his first start with the Browns – and faced a touch matchup on both sides of the ball. The Browns proved their mental fortitude and willingness to not give up, trusting in their elite defense and finding ways to make plays offensively.
The Browns travel to Indianapolis for Week 7. They will face the Colts on Oct. 22 at 1 p.m.