Kendall Lamm felt the butterflies in his stomach as soon as he heard the play call from Baker Mayfield.
The play was drawn by coach Kevin Stefanski in the days leading up to the Browns' Week 13 clash against the Tennessee Titans. Stefanski, who's shown no fear in calling trick plays this season, was ready to use another ruse. This time, Lamm was his chess piece.
Mayfield was going to throw Lamm, who lined up as if he was a left tackle but was actually in the tight end position, a touchdown. Lamm entered the game as an eligible receiver, but the Titans weren't prepared to cover him if he broke from the line of scrimmage to catch a pass.
"We had a little bit of a break before the play was called because we were switching end zones," Lamm said in an interview on Browns Live. "I told Baker, 'Nobody will know this, but I told him, I said 'Please, whatever you do, if you can, give me a friendly ball.'"
So Lamm lined up at the line of scrimmage on third-and-goal from Tennessee's 1-yard line and waited for the snap. The offensive line appeared to be showing a run play — each lineman was in a 3-point stance. When the ball was snapped, everyone charged forward. Mayfield faked a handoff to running back Nick Chubb, who leaped over the right side of the line to sell the run.
Lamm fell forward, too. But then he ran to the back of the end zone and turned around. No one was covering him.
Mayfield answered Lamm's request with a lob pass right to his hands.
For the Browns, the play increased their lead to 17-0 early in the second quarter to continue their early, and ultimately historic, performance against the Titans' defense. Lamm's touchdown was one of four that contributed to the Browns' 38 first-half points, the most ever scored in a half in franchise history.
For Lamm, the play was his first touchdown ever — he believed he had scored his first touchdown in high school, but the refs ruled him a yard short — and it was executed to perfection.
"I would like to see him high point it next time and go up and get it," Stefanski joked. "Kendall did a great job. The guys again understood the finer points of that."
Lamm was a natural fit for the play call, both because of the play package — offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said the play was called the "Muscle" package, which featured Lamm as an extra tight end — and because of his soft hands. Normally, coaches prefer to implement trick plays after a few weeks of practice to ensure all players understand their roles. Just about each trick play requires some level of acting from each player on the field, and a bad execution on game day can spell serious trouble for an offense.
But the Browns only needed one week to perfect the play to Lamm. Stefanski sketched the play earlier in the week and gave Lamm a few reps to sell his run fake in time to get in the end zone and, of course, catch the football.
Lamm was perfect on each rep.
"Every time we threw Kendall the ball, he caught it with clean hands," Van Pelt said. "He's an athlete out there in space, and we had a lot of confidence the play was going to work."
Everyone on the offense was confident when the play was called. Stefanski and Van Pelt were certain that the Titans didn't know what was coming. Mayfield was certain that he could sell the play and throw a smooth pass to Lamm.
Lamm was confident he could make the catch and cement one of the most clever plays of the Browns' season.
"The rest," Lamm said, "is history."