Odell Beckham Jr. was in the midst of a rare game Sunday, and it wasn't because he was breaking records.
It was because he hadn't recorded a reception.
Beckham reached halftime without a catch for just the second time in his career last weekend and finished with two catches for 20 yards. This inspired some concern from those watching that Beckham might grow frustrated with his lack of statistical output.
But while he was battling for position in an attempt to record such receptions, Beckham could also be seen 20-plus yards downfield, racing alongside his ball-possessing teammates in an attempt to clear space for touchdowns. After the game, he lamented that he "couldn't quite get there" on teammate and best friend Jarvis Landry's long run that set up Nick Chubb's second touchdown of the day. And in between, his presence alone opened up opportunities for others (see: Ricky Seals-Jones' touchdown reception).
Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens emphasized this when asked about Beckham earlier in the week, telling reporters that if they want to know about the type of player Beckham is, cue the tape that shows him running alongside Landry in support of his teammate. On Friday, Beckham was granted a chance to explain it for himself.
"I mean, we beat a very good team, do you know what I mean?" Beckham said. "Of course, any receiver in the National Football League, you can ask them, you all know what we want to do. We want to catch touchdowns; we want to catch passes but just drawing attention over here. I will run a hitch and two people will jump on me and you hit Ricky (Seals-Jones) right up the seam for 70 yards. If teams are going to focus on that, it will be a long day for me but we will come out where we need.
"Like I said, it is just about putting us in position to make it to the playoffs. Stats are only stats but the memories you have of going to the playoffs, winning championships, nothing is going to ever supersede that for me. I just want to get back to the playoffs. That is really it. I did not have my best game and it is still something I think about to this day is my only goal is to win the division and it starts with Baltimore, it starts with the Bengals, it starts with the Steelers. If teams are going to do that, we will hang 40 and walk out of there with a win and get back to work next week."
Beckham's 20 receiving yards in Cleveland's Week 4 win over the Baltimore Ravens were the least in any game in his career. But Landry exploded for 167 yards on eight receptions, Chubb rushed for 165 yards and three scores and the Browns put up 530 yards of total offense. So as Beckham said, sure, attempt to eliminate him from the game — but suffer the consequences elsewhere.
"That is what teams are going to do to him — try to take him out of the game, frustrate him," quarterback Baker Mayfield said Thursday. "You know what, if people are worried about that, they are worried about the wrong things. That is why guys like Jarvis (Landry) and (Nick) Chubb had a great day. So they can focus on what they want. That is why I continue to say it is a mismatch game and a matchup game for us. We need to pick our poison."
Check out the best photos from the Cleveland Browns win over the Baltimore Ravens yesterday by team photographer Matt Starkey
The last time Beckham finished shy of 25 yards receiving was on Oct. 3, 2016. The next week, he caught five passes for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Both of those games were losses for Beckham's New York Giants. The Browns won handily last week without Beckham racking up gaudy numbers. And it was, as Mayfield said, because of the opportunities afforded to Beckham's teammates.
Beckham knows he'll get his when the time comes. Teams won't allocate a ton of resources toward him every week while the rest of the Browns' offense thrives. Beckham will find one-on-ones eventually, and Mayfield will look for him.
And in the times between Beckham's scores, he'll be his teammates' biggest fan. He sure was of Landry on Sunday.
"It's just something I've been waiting to see," Beckham said of Landry's performance versus the Ravens. "When we were on opposite teams, I remember him not being able to do everything that he wanted and I told him the day that I came here 'that's not going to happen anymore.' And if they're going to play like that, hopefully he goes for a 2,000-yard season. That's what we want. I love seeing him catch the ball."