CLEVELAND: The Browns’ 6-3 win over the Seattle Seahawks will forever be remembered for its ugliness, though strong safety T.J. Ward won’t be among the masses who view it as a debacle.
“It was a beautiful game,” Ward said. “We were talking about that on the sideline. I love games like that.”
Ward might be infatuated with low-scoring, defensive battles, but he hadn’t previously been involved in any quite like the one Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Not many have.
“I went to Oregon, so there’s not many [6-3] games,” Ward said. “[Maybe] 60 to 3.”
The Browns (3-3) prevailed because their defense showed no mercy against a discombobulated offense, Ward delivered in the clutch and Phil Dawson made field goals of 52 and 53 yards. Meanwhile, the Seahawks (2-4) squandered chances to win. Their final drive fell short when cornerback Joe Haden broke up quarterback Charlie Whitehurst’s fourth-down pass with 2:22 left in the fourth quarter.
The Browns ran out the clock to secure the win. Despite his struggling offense, coach Pat Shurmur isn’t complaining about the Browns snapping their two-game losing streak against President Mike Holmgren’s former team.
“Every game is different,” Shurmur said. “They’re like 16 story problems. You just battle through it. Would I like to be more explosive and would I like to be up by five scores? Absolutely. That’s the goal.”
Until Shurmur’s offense snaps out of its funk, the defense must dominate for the team to triumph. That was the case against the Seahawks, who gained just 137 yards. It was the fewest amount of yards surrendered by the Browns since 1993. The Seahawks converted just 2-of-12 third downs.
“It was a statement game for us,” middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “They were coming off a bye. We came out flat last week. We wanted to grab this one. It wasn’t the prettiest thing ever, but a win is a win around here.”
Dawson made the game-winning 53-yard field goal with 11:18 left in the fourth quarter. He also had field-goal attempts of 48 and 24 yards blocked by defensive end Red Bryant.
“That’s the prettiest two-out-of-four day we’ll ever have, but it’s nice to help your team win a game, albeit an ugly game,” Dawson said. “When your number’s called, you go out there and do the best you can and today was just good enough.”
The Seahawks tied the score 3-3 when Steven Hauschka made a 20-yard field goal with 2:33 left in the third quarter. On third-and-goal from the Browns’ 2, Ward broke up Whitehurst’s pass to tight end Cameron Morrah in the end zone, forcing the Seahawks to settle for their lone field goal.
“We’re just a really scrappy defense right now,” Ward said. “There’s nothing wrong with being scrappy. We love being scrappy.”
As for the offense, it lacked rhythm and consistency. Quarterback Colt McCoy completed 20-of-35 passes for 178 yards with an interception and took five sacks. However, McCoy and Co. had possession for 42:56, the greatest amount of time for the Browns since 1976.
Running back Montario Hardesty started in place of Peyton Hillis, who was inactive with a pulled hamstring. Hardesty had 33 carries for 95 yards, caught two passes and didn’t drop any. Recently signed running back Chris Ogbonnaya led the team with five catches for 43 yards. The Browns converted 12-of-24 third downs.
“Sometimes there are games in this league when you have to keep grinding it out,” Hardesty said. “We had the lead, so we just wanted to keep going with it.”
Dawson made a 52-yard field goal with 7:26 left in the second quarter to give the Browns a 3-0 halftime advantage. During the previous series, Ward strip-sacked Whitehurst, cornerback Dimitri Patterson grabbed the ball and D’Qwell Jackson was credited with the recovery after winding up with it.
The Browns had three sacks against Whitehurst, who completed 12-of-30 passes for 97 yards. He started in place of Tarvaris Jackson, who was out with a strained pectoral, was picked off by cornerback Sheldon Brown and finished with a passer rating of 35.
The Seahawks struggled to operate their no-huddle offense and abandoned it for most of the game. Running back Marshawn Lynch hurt his back in pregame warm-ups and did not play, giving the Browns’ defense another advantage.
The Seahawks also let two golden opportunities slip away in the third quarter. Leon Washington returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown, but the score was wiped out because Kennard Cox was penalized for blocking James Dockery in the back. Later, wide receiver Sidney Rice caught a 38-yard pass from Whitehurst and had a clear path to the end zone, but he appeared to lose his balance and stepped out of bounds at the Browns’ 9-yard line.
Ward and the defense then held the Seahawks to their lone field goal. Ugly or not, the Browns are off to their best start through six games since 2007.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com.