CLEVELAND - It's such a rare happening that is was almost worth taking a picture of the scoreboard at the end of the game as proof of its existence.
The Browns, who post blowout victories with the regularity of appearances by certain comets, did the unexpected Sunday with a thorough defeat of the Kansas City Chiefs, 30-7, before 62,422 at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
The Browns (5-8) last won by more than three touchdowns in November of 2003, 44-6 over the Arizona Cardinals. They extended their winning streak to three straight for the first time since winning the final four games of the 2009 season.
The Associated Press
Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson (33) leaps over the line during the third quarter of Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Browns won, 30-7
There's a growing sense of confidence building that can't be denied.
"It makes it a little better on your stress level on the sideline," Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden said. "Like I've said all along, there aren't many times when you're going to win games by a large margin. When we had a chance to put it out of reach, it felt good to be on that side of it."
It looked like anything but a blowout brewing when Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles turned the right corner on an outside zone run and went 80 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. The run was an early shock to the system that could have ruined the day for the Browns. Instead, it proved to be the catalyst to a stretch of 30 unanswered points.
"The resiliency of our team (we've seen it happen before) showed up again," Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. "I give them credit. After the first play of the game it was an outstanding effort on defense. For us to have that success was great."
The game turned when Travis Benjamin took a second-quarter punt return 83 yards for a touchdown to give the Browns a 10-3 lead. Benjamin, who initially lined up near the line of scrimmage, switched positions with Cribbs just before Dustin Colquitt got off the punt. He made a darting move by one defender near the 20 and slipped an attempted tackle before heading to the left sideline. From there he had the blocking needed to take it the distance.
The play was actually designed with a block in mind, which is why Cribbs was lined up wide near the line of scrimmage. The return was a pleasant surprise and came at a time when the Browns needed a boost.
"I just remember the first guy I swept by," Benjamin said. "I saw a number of brown jerseys down the field, and I knew it was going to be a touchdown. It was a great momentum-build. Every time you get a great specials teams play like that, it builds the team momentum."
The Browns' defense played much better after Charles' touchdown run. After yielding 181 yards on 16 plays in the first quarter, the Browns gave up 127 yards on 36 plays the rest of the game.
"They just hit us, I believe on the back side," Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. "Myself and whoever was playing nose got cut off, and it created a gap with Charles. You can't give him too much space because he can take it from anywhere on the field.
"We did it and bounced back from it. Guys didn't lose their heads. We stayed the course. We were able to contain the run after the first series."
The Browns' offense wasn't prolific, but it did enough to add to the blowout. Weeden was 17-of-30 for 217 yards. He had touchdown passes on consecutive plays to tight end Benjamin Watson and Trent Richardson negated by penalties.
Richardson had just 42 rushing yards but scored two touchdowns on runs of 1 yard each. Montario Hardesty added 52 rushing yards, while receiver Josh Gordon had eight receptions for 86 yards.
Cribbs ran 12 yards to the Chiefs' 1 on a play out of the wildcat formation to set up Richardson's first touchdown.
Shurmur and offensive coordinator Brad Childress were creative with their play calling. They used the wildcat twice and the pistol formation (the running back lines up behind the quarterback in an 'I' look) once. Benjamin ran 15 yards on a reverse.
"I was excited about it," Weeden said of the creative play calling. "Any time you do plays like that, it's tough on defenses. They hadn't prepared for it, and I think it's a little wrinkle that we threw in there, and it obviously paid off."
The Chiefs got the big performance from Charles (165 rushing yards), but not much else went right on offense. Quarterback Brady Quinn was 10-of-21 for 159 yards and one interception. The interception by safety Tashaun Gipson put the Browns at the Chiefs' 13 and set up a field goal by Phil Dawson.
"For us it was some penalties here and there and some minus runs," Quinn said. "We started putting ourselves in third-and-long situations, which your percentage of converting those gets tough."
The Chiefs had a chance to extend their lead to 10-0, but a 27-yard attempt of a field goal by Ryan Succop hit off the left upright. Dawson kicked a 23-yard field goal later in the first quarter.
Benjamin's touchdown came on the first play of the second quarter. The Browns' 10-3 lead held up to halftime.
Richardson's first touchdown stretched the lead to 17-7 on the first possession of the third quarter. Dawson added a 24-yard field goal as the lead expanded to 20-7.
Richardson's second touchdown and a 34-yard field goal by Dawson in the fourth period gave the Browns a 23-point lead.
The Browns will try for a fourth straight win Sunday at home against the Washington Redskins.