In a seesaw, back-and-forth affair against the San Diego Chargers, the Browns ran 42 passing plays to just 21 running plays. During the game Sunday, the ratio seemed abnormal, but it was working.
Despite settling for four field goals inside the 25-yard line, it was one of Cleveland's most well-rounded offensive performances since Mike Pettine took over as head coach – 356 passing yards and another 100 rushing.
Could we see more of this type of play calling from offensive coordinator John DeFilippo as the season plays out?
Well, it'll depend.
"When you are going against teams that are going to put five on the line of scrimmage against you and essentially dare you to throw the football," Pettine said, "you are going to have to open it up some."
Translation: Pound-and-ground football will remain the heartbeat of Cleveland's offense and the Browns are using short passes as an offshoot of the run game. Statistically, it's hard to ignore the paradigm shift through four games.
With 25 percent of the season done, the team's 23.3 rush attempts per game rank 25th in the NFL. To compare, the Browns are 18th in the league in pass attempts with 34.2 per contest.
A wrinkle that seemed to throw off the San Diego defense was how successful the Browns rushed the football out of three wide receiver formations. On a 10-play, game-tying march down the field late in the fourth quarter, it wasn't a coincidence Cleveland leaned upon Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, who grinded out 23 tough yards on five carries.
Still, the Browns won't be dismissing the success of Josh McCown and the passing game. Expect Cleveland to keep establishing their short passing attack because it's been well-organized and it's set up other big plays.
In passes 9 yards or less down the field, McCown is 35-for-48 for 333 yards with a 96.8 quarterback rating. As we saw with Crowell's 53-yard catch Sunday, some of these short passes are creating open space for Cleveland's athletes to accelerate with the football.
But if defenses go into the week only labeling Cleveland as a dink-and-dunk offense, the Browns can burn you. The Browns lead the NFL in passing plays of 40 yards or more with six. Wide receiver Travis Benjamin and tight end Gary Barnidge each rank fourth in yards per catch at their respective positions.
Cleveland's offensive players aren't fixated on the numbers.
"All I'm really worried about is the wins, honestly," Barnidge said.