The Browns didn't play very well against Seattle. In fact, they played very poorly on offense.
But the Browns did win, and that moved them to 3-3, which makes them .500 six games into the season for the first time since 2007. That is important, because a team that has not known success welcomes any sense of achievement it can get.
"It doesn't always have to be pretty," coach Pat Shurmur said, "but we need to fight to get a victory and just stay the course."
The win over Seattle was certainly a fight. Cleveland held the ball almost 43 minutes and got two field goals, both longer than 50 yards. The Browns didn't get into the red zone until late in the fourth quarter.
They won thanks to the defense and the poor play of Seattle and its quarterback, Charlie Whitehurst. Whether the defense played well or the Seahawks played poorly is a matter of perspective.
But the Browns' perspective came from a winning locker room, and from a coach who emphasizes the right thing -- which is winning the game no matter how it's done. That attitude has not always been present in Cleveland the past dozen years, but it also might have something to do with the fact the Browns have found a way to overcome a struggling offense and struggling quarterback to get back to .500.
--Quarterback Colt McCoy finished the win over Seattle with a 59.0 passer rating. That about sums up his game, which again consisted of underneath throws and short crossing routes.
In the second half, McCoy threw more on time and completed a higher percentage, but he still had a very low yards-per-attempt average of 5.1 yards.
McCoy seemed as baffled as anyone by the game. The Browns held the ball for almost 43 minutes, missed two field goals, had no plays longer than 20 yards and scored six points on field goals longer than 50 yards.
"I have never been a part of something like that," McCoy said. "I don't ever remember playing in a game and not scoring a touchdown."
It happens. Seattle plays good defense. McCoy has yet to find a rhythm. But McCoy won, which does count for something.
--Phil Dawson said he tries to hit a long field goal the exact same way he hits a short one.
"I have a routine," Dawson said.
In the win over Seattle, Dawson had kicks of 48 and 24 yards -- and they were blocked. He had kicks of 52 and 53 yards, and he made both.
"The best 2-for-4 game I've ever seen," Dawson said.
The blocks both came from the left side, as the Browns had big breakdowns in protection. Dawson shrugged them off, and he moved on to the next kick. He is a pro's pro, and he proved it again at Seattle. Someday the Browns will look back and realize just how good Dawson has been in his career.
"What a great player," coach Pat Shurmur said. "What a competitor. And he makes his kicks. ... I've got a very strong appreciation for what he is, and he's a pro. That's why he's one of the best."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNELPLAYER NOTES
--RB Montario Hardesty got 33 carries with Peyton Hillis out due to a hamstring injury. Hardesty gained 95 yards. The average per carry was a mere 2.9 yards, which was not good. What was good was the way the Browns stuck with the run. That patience helped the offense. Hardesty, though, showed he's probably best suited as a backup. He had a few runs when a quick cut or shift would have given him bigger yardage, but he didn't get it done. Also, Seahawks defenders tackled him at times as if he were in junior high.
--TE Ben Watson left the game in the second quarter with a concussion. It wasn't known what play Watson was injured on, but he did not play the second half. Watson has been a main target of Colt McCoy all season. If he's out for an extended time, Evan Moore and Alex Smith would share time. Smith is a better blocker, so he might see more playing time.
--WR Mohamed Massaquoi took a serious shot to the head late in the first half when the Seahawks were able to catch up to him on a late pass thrown by Colt McCoy. Massaquoi missed the entire second half. The concussion is a concern. Massaquoi had one last season when he took one of James Harrison's more vicious shots. Any player who gets two in two years is in scary territory.
--RG Shawn Lauvao left the game with a bruised knee, and he will be day-to-day as he recovers. Lauvao is a second-year guard learning on the job, and the Browns like his potential. A sprained ankle set him back last season. Now the knee could set him back this season.
--RB Peyton Hillis had no chance of facing the Seahawks. His strained hamstring prevented him from practicing the week before the game. He will try to come back this week, but he figures to be questionable even though he was able to do some light running Monday.
REPORT CARD VS. SEAHAWKS
PASSING OFFENSE: D -- The Browns seem disinclined or disinterested in throwing any pas that is 15 to 25 yards in length. Colt McCoy seems to live on the short pass in Pat Shurmur's offense -- either the swing pass or the short crossing route. The times McCoy tries to throw the intermediate pass, he is either woefully behind a player or he throws a bad pass, as he did when Josh Cribbs was open in the first quarter and McCoy threw into the teeth of defenders 5 yards in front of Cribbs. McCoy needed 35 passes to throw for 178 yards, just over 5 yards per pass. That's not good enough, except on this Sunday, when it was barely enough to win.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus -- The Browns finally ran the ball with some commitment. They gave Montario Hardesty 33 carries and newly acquired Chris Ogbonnaya three more. Those 36 carries represent a significant effort on the part of Shurmur to recognize the run. It was needed, and Shurmur deserves credit. Problem was, the Browns did not run very well. Hardesty had just 95 yards, and the two backs combined averaged about 3 yards per carry.
PASS DEFENSE: B-plus -- The Browns had the good fortune of playing a quarterback who had a terrible day. Charlie Whitehurst was flat awful. He completed 12 of 30 passes for 97 yards -- with 38 coming on one completion. Whitehurst's poor decisions included throwing into triple coverage at least three times, and he forced numerous other throws. That being said, the Browns held an opposing quarterback to 40 percent completions and less than 100 yards. Those are numbers that can't be minimized.
RUSH DEFENSE : B-plus -- The Browns benefitted when Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch suffered back spasms before the game. He tried to play but couldn't. That left the Seahawks with Leon Washington and Justin Forsett. They combined for 62 yards on 15 carries. That's not a bad average, but when a team only has the ball for 17 minutes in a game, it doesn't give the running game much room to get going. The best run defense the Browns showed was when Seattle had the ball first-and-goal at the 2-yard-line and did not score. That essentially won the game for Cleveland.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- No team should have two field goals blocked in the same game, especially by the same defender. The Browns did. No team should do that and have a punt returned for a touchdown. The Browns did, though that score was negated by a phantom block-in-the-back flag thrown by the flag-happy crew of Mike Carey. The Browns had all those things happen, yet they still won thanks to the outstanding kicking and dependability of Phil Dawson, who made two kicks longer than 50 yards to give the Browns their only points. It's the first time in his NFL career that Dawson made two longer than 50, and the Browns needed them.
COACHING: C -- Take your pick. The defense played very well, so the coaching was good. The offense played very poorly, so the coaching was bad. The special teams were a mixed bag, good and bad.