Isaiah Crowell didn't see the first receiving touchdown of his NFL career coming.
It happened with 3:29 to play and the Browns trailing, 27-22, on Sunday at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium. The Browns drew up a pass play on first-and-10 from Baltimore's 26-yard line and, well, it's safe to say Crowell wasn't the first option.
Suddenly, the ball was in Crowell's hands and he took care of the rest. He capped the touchdown with a full-extension dive into the pylon.
"I feel like it wasn't supposed to, you know, come to me," Crowell said. "It was a blitz from the other side, and it didn't have anything to do with me, so I just got out to my side. Josh dumped it off and I did what I did after that. I had to get to the end zone because my team needed it."
With some help from Cleveland Browns Daily's Nathan Zegura, who breaks down the play in the video at the top of the page, here's how it happened.
The Browns lined up in trips to the left before sending Andrew Hawkins in motion to the right side of the line of scrimmage. Travis Benjamin is stationed to the right. The Ravens appear to be in a Cover 3 defense. The Ravens adjust to Hawkins' movement, putting their two cornerbacks on the side with Hawkins and Benjamin. One safety moves down to cover the the tight end. When the ball is snapped, the Ravens rush four and drop seven.
Three of the Ravens defensive backs drop into a deep zone. Two linebackers man the middle underneath and two defensive backs flank to the side. McCown looks first to his right for Hawkins, who is covered. A throw there could have easily been picked and returned the other way for a touchdown. McCown then looks to his left. At this point, Crowell, who squeezed through the line of scrimmage and curled to his left, is open just a yard or so down the field.
Crowell catches the pass at the 27-yard line and looks ahead to a field that includes three Ravens and one Browns player. Crowell makes the first two players miss as he runs straight ahead before he eyes the left sideline, where Brian Hartline is positioned for a key block. Hartline slows up Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith just enough to prevent him from making a tackle.
At that stage, it's a race between Crowell and the rest of Baltimore's defense. He had just enough gas to get to where he needed to be to give the Browns the lead late in the game.
"We did a great job at the end, after fighting through the whole game, and we handled our business," Crowell said. "Everybody wanted to win. We kept fighting and pushed the ball down the field. We basically did what we wanted to do, and we came up with a victory."