Odell Beckham Jr. made a winning play Sunday without the ball coming anywhere near him.
With the Browns inside the red zone, Beckham went out for a route and drew the attention of three defenders. The numbers worked to Cleveland's advantage, and Baker Mayfield recognized it by lofting a pass to a wide-open Rashard Higgins for an easy 7-yard score.
Beckham quickly sprinted over to Higgins and helped him celebrate six points for the entire Browns offense.
Beckham, a self-described "shooter," would love to have the ball in his hands in those situations but understands how he positively impacted a Browns touchdown. That's all that matters to Beckham, who repeatedly stressed Thursday how focused he is on helping the Browns achieve their ultimate goal of winning a championship.
"As I get down in the red zone and I'm running a corner route, three people are coming with me and Higg's wide open, I know that happens," Beckham said. "I know I bring a lot of attention to defenses on the other end and other people are going to be open, and you've got to live with that."
That kind of attention happened more than once Sunday, as Beckham finished with two catches for 20 yards in the Browns' 47-42 loss to the Chargers. Since he returned Week 3 from a knee injury that derailed more than half of his 2020 season, Beckham has nine catches for 124 yards.
Beckham said he's confident more opportunities will come his way while maintaining his focus on staying healthy and doing what he can for the Browns to achieve their biggest goals.
"The ultimate goal is to win a championship, and I feel like I'm in a great situation to do that," Beckham said. "There will be days where it will be my day and we'll be sitting up here and the conversation will be different. My main focus was to be healthy, to be able to stay healthy and get through a season."
Mayfield lauded Beckham for his role in the team's overall success, including some punishing moments as a run-blocker for an offense that leads the NFL in most rushing categories. He added it was important for the Browns to take advantage of the opportunities that come Beckham's way "because they are not going to come that often."
"He is a dynamic football player," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "He is very front of mind when we are game planning and when we are calling plays. Sometimes the defense dictates if the ball goes elsewhere, and we are comfortable with that because we have good players elsewhere."
Looking For Consistency
Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said he had multiple conversations with Jamie Gillan about his consistency, and the third-year punter responded Wednesday with his best practice of the season.
Priefer is hoping it carries over to Sunday, when Gillan will get his next opportunity to bounce back from a tough day in Los Angeles. On the season, Gillan is 29th in the NFL with an average of 41.8 yards per punt.
Priefer said Gillan is "mentally tough," believes he's learned from some of his mistakes from earlier this season and is ready to be better starting Sunday.
"He needs to be more consistent," Priefer said. "He knows that and that's what we're working toward. We've worked on some technique issues but quite frankly, for him, he's just got to relax and do his job."
Practice Makes Perfect
Yes, the Browns have practiced the unique situation they faced late in the action against the Chargers.
Though they led by a point, the Browns needed to get the ball back with less than 2 minutes to play as the Chargers looked to run out the clock and attempt a last-second field goal. Cleveland literally took matters into its own hands, as multiple defenders pushed Chargers RB Austin Ekeler, who took the handoff and made no initial attempt to score, into the end zone.
Defensive coordinator Joe Woods said the Browns don't necessarily practice the situation every week, but it's come up more than once on the fields at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus.
"It was the best thing to do for the situation," Woods said. "It is really something that we talk about. You do not want to talk about it. We practice it. Unfortunately, we had to use it that game, but the guys executed."