Odell Beckham Jr. will never forget what his teammates were telling him after he heard a special play call on a crucial drive Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
The call, a reverse handoff toss to Beckham, was the first play the Browns had after the Cowboys scored their third fourth-quarter touchdown to come within three points of tying the score. His teammates, urgent to build a sustainable drive and kill the game clock, wanted to make sure Beckham knew what to do on the play.
"We just need 5 yards," RB Kareem Hunt told him in the huddle.
"Make sure you stay in bounds," rookie TE Harrison Bryant added.
"Thanks, rook," Beckham, a seven-year veteran, said with a chuckle.
The advice didn't matter, but for good reason.
Beckham ran the ball 50 yards to the end zone and packed the Browns' final offensive punch in a 49-38 win over the Cowboys. The win gave Cleveland its first 3-1 start since 2001 and first win over the Cowboys since 1994. For Beckham, the game will likely be remembered for a long time.
His performance included three touchdowns — two in the air and one on the ground — and 153 total yards for one of his best showings ever in a Browns uniform. The Cowboys couldn't contain Beckham in any fashion, and he was arguably the MVP of a win that moved the Browns to 3-1 for the first time since 2001.
"I'm just happy we found a way to win," Beckham said. "I want to be able to be efficient and just help this team find ways to win. That is really what it boils down to."
Beckham helped the Browns in finding many ways to win Sunday, and his 50-yard touchdown run — the first rushing touchdown of his career — wasn't the only unique play that did the trick.
Beckham was involved in some of coach Kevin Stefanski's finest play-calling on the first drive of the game. When Beckham heard the play, ran his route to the goal-line and looked for the football, he couldn't help but smile.
The pass was perfect, and Beckham was alone with a clear path to the end zone. All he needed to do was make the catch, but that wasn't the reason why he had a grin.
This pass was special. It came from Jarvis Landry, Beckham's best friend, former LSU teammate and fellow Browns receiver who also has a cannon of an arm. Landry hurled the pass 37 yards to Beckham's chest for his first touchdown of the afternoon.
But as the ball was in the air, Beckham had a moment of nostalgia.
"It puts a hold on any words that I could think of," Beckham said. "Not that it is not special to catch a touchdown pass from (QB) Baker (Mayfield) or catch a touchdown pass in general, but literally, as I watched Jarvis throw the ball, it reminded me of being outside (at LSU West Campus Apartments) as we would just sit there and talk for hours and throw back and forth. It felt like a joke, and not in a bad way. It just felt unreal to be looking him in his eyes and he is just throwing it and I'm just smiling.
"I would not trade that play for any amount of touchdowns in the game or if I was the one to throw it to him. That is my brother, like for real and for real life. I got his back forever, and he's got mine. It was an amazing feeling."
Check out photos of the Browns against the Dallas Cowboys
Beckham's second touchdown was just as important, although this one was from Mayfield. The Browns were looking to respond to the Cowboys' 14 first-quarter points and tie the game, and Beckham was Mayfield's first read when he took the snap from the 4-yard line and fired a rocket to his hands.
Mayfield and Beckham rode a smooth connection all game. The Browns found first downs on passes of 23, 16 and 13 yards from the duo, who matched the production from Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and any of his playmakers among Dallas' potent offense.
"There is just something about being in this atmosphere and this stadium," Beckham said. "It's not like it's not always like that, but I just want to be great to just find ways to help us win."
They found a way to win Sunday, and that was by feeding Beckham. No one was surprised to see Stefanski give one of his top playmakers an opportunity with the ball on the Browns' biggest drive of the game, and that was the only play they needed from their offense in the fourth quarter to shut down the Cowboys for good.
Beckham appreciated the advice from his teammates, but — as his other plays Sunday showed — he is capable of anything when the ball is with him.
"There is something special about being part of a win, being part of the team and helping get a win," he said. "I just want to be able to help. I just want to be able to help in any way I can."