CLEVELAND - Trent Richardson went 9 yards on a pitch to the left on the first play from scrimmage, kicking off what appeared to be a big day for the second-year Browns running back.
He followed that with a 5-yard run, and three plays later he powered off right tackle for 10 more yards.
Three carries for 24 yards before all of the 71,513 fans found their seats Sunday at First Energy Stadium. The workhorse back the Browns thought they had last season before he cracked two ribs in the second game of the season was set for a big day.
Something suddenly got in the way of a possible 100-yard rushing performance for Richardson namely the Miami Dolphins defense. Richardson was bottled up the rest of the game, finishing with 47 yards on 13 carries in the Browns' 23-10 loss.
Richardson always plays the role of team leader and optimist.
"I actually didn't (think it was like last year)," Richardson said. "It was the first time in a long time that the team actually didn't give up. We fought every play. Every play didn't go like we wanted it to. Out there it's man against man. We just have to step up and be a better man."
MISSING PIECE: The Browns clearly missed the deep threat capabilities of receiver Josh Gordon, who's serving a two-game suspension for a violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy. Without Gordon, Travis Benjamin was the only receiver capable of striking deep. Benjamin had three receptions for 44 yards. He dropped a pass on a post route that would have turned into a big gain if he had maintained possession.
"We missed him (Gordon) a lot out there," Richardson said. "There were a lot of opportunities for guys to step up and make plays. Josh Gordon is a big part of our offense. At the same time we can't come out here and lose."
ROUGH DAY: Cornerback Chris Owens was a quiet man in the locker room after a bad day on the job. Owens was beaten in coverage several times, including a succession of plays on an 85-yard touchdown drive by the Dolphins in the fourth quarter.
"You prepare to win, and unfortunately we didn't get that done," Owens said. "The beauty of it is you get to go back to work tomorrow and try to make those corrections."
WELCOME HOME: Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline played in front of a happy cheering section. Hartline graduated from GlenOak High School near Canton before attending Ohio State.
Hartline was targeted 15 times by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, hauling in nine for 114 yards. He beat the coverage of cornerback Buster Skrine on a 34-yard touchdown play.
"Ryan did a good job of placing the ball, and the offensive line did a good job of protecting," Hartline said. "We just started to gel."
LOSS UP FRONT: The Browns' defense played without Ahtyba Rubin, who injured a calf during Thursday's practice. Second-year veteran Billy Winn got the start in place of Rubin.
INJURY REPORT: Winn suffered leg cramps. Former Browns cornerback and current Dolphin Dimitri Patterson left in the second half with an injury. Patterson had two of the three interceptions thrown by Brandon Weeden.
HOLD THAT LINE: The Browns limited the Dolphins to 20 rushing yards on 23 carries. It tied for the second-fewest rushing yards ever allowed by the Browns. The record of 4 came against the New York Giants in 1954.
STEPPING UP: Tight end Jordan Cameron set career highs in receptions (nine) and receiving yards (108). He became the only Browns tight end to have 100 or more receiving yards in a season opener and the first receiver to surpass the century mark in an opener since Frisman Jackson had 128 in 2005.
The last Browns tight end to have 100-plus receiving yards was Benjamin Watson against the Dolphins in 2010.
WELCOME ABOARD: The defense received excellent production from the free agents that were added during the offseason. Desmond Bryant had two sacks. Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves had one each.
INACTIVES: Sidelined for the Browns were third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer, tight end MarQuies Gray, linebacker Barkevious Mingo, offensive linemen Martin Wallace and Shawn Lauvao, Rubin and linebacker Paul Hazel.