Critics claimed the Browns had beaten up on patsies along the road to surprising contention in the American Football Conference.
It was hard to argue. After all, their last two victims had been hapless, winless Miami and St. Louis.
Well, it was time to shut up the critics. Seattle was coming to town with a 4-3 mark and the reputation as a Super Bowl contender. And though many considered the Seahawks a bit of a disappointment halfway through the season, nobody was confusing them with the Dolphins or Rams. After all, they were the only team in the NFC that boasted winning records in each of the last four years.
Making the Seahawks even scarier was a sack-happy defense that would challenge a blossoming Browns offensive line. And quarterback Derek Anderson understood that he would be playing with a target on his back.
"I have to be smart and get the ball out of my hands knowing that they're coming," he told the News-Herald. "Their front four gets a lot better push than the teams that we've played."
Fortunately for the Browns, the task of keeping Anderson's uniform clean would be done at home, where for the first time since they returned to Cleveland in 1999, they had become a tough team to beat. They had won three consecutive games at Cleveland Browns Stadium since the opening-week shellacking by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The sense of urgency to beat Seattle, however, was palpable. Not only were the Browns scheduled at play at Pittsburgh the following week, but they knew that four of the next five games were on the road.
Coach Romeo Crennel understood that knocking off the Seahawks was critical and that doing in front of a friendly crowd was certainly an advantage. But he also knew that Seattle was trying to protect a one-game lead in the NFC West.
"Both teams are playing for something," Crennel said. "The thing we have going for us is we're playing at home. We like playing here. Our fans like they way we're playing this year, hopefully we can keep that going and continue our winning ways here at home."
Linebacker Antwan Peek certainly wasn't underestimating the critical nature of the clash to come.
"This is probably one of the most important games of the year for us," he told the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram. "It could define a lot of things for us as a team. We come out and win this game, it'll make a difference for us. Everyone will take us seriously."
Everyone was about to take the Browns very seriously.
The contribution bulldozer back Jamal Lewis had made to the Browns during the first seven weeks of the season could hardly be measured.
He was forcing defenses to respect the run. He was rushing for badly needed first downs. His mere presence in the locker room gave the younger players someone to look up to.
But he wasn't scoring many touchdowns. That is, until Seattle came to town. Then he paid frequent visits to the end zone in a crucial 33-30 overtime victory.
Lewis scored four times on this day. Strangely, he averaged less than two yards a carry throughout the game, but when you travel just one or two yards for each of those touchdowns, it does tend to lower the old average.
The Browns needed every one of them. The Seahawks opened the scoring on a 5-yard pass from talented quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to Bobby Engram, but Lewis answered on a 2-yard scoring plunge. A misfired extra point kept the Seahawks ahead.
Seattle assumed control on a 6-yard scoring strike from Hasselbeck to D.J. Hackett and a 94-yard punt return for a touchdown by Nate Burleson that stretched their lead to 21-6. Few at Cleveland Browns Stadium felt much relief from a 19-yard field goal by Phil Dawson to end the half.
The comeback began in earnest in the third quarter. While the Browns were finally shutting down Hasselbeck and friends, Lewis tallied a 1-yard touchdown to chop the deficit to 21-16. Seattle answered with a 39-yard field goal by Josh Brown, but Lewis answered with a 2-yard score. The two-point conversion attempt failed, keeping the Browns down, 24-22
Not for long. Brown nailed another field goal two minutes into the fourth quarter, but Lewis scored from 1 yard out to give the Browns their first lead of the day, then Anderson hit Joe Jurevicius for the two-pointer to make it 30-27.
The 2007 Browns, however, never did anything easy. And when Brown booted a 22-yard field goal with no time remaining in regulation, they were forced into overtime.
That's when instant replay proved to be an instant help. The Seahawks appeared to have picked up a first down on a 3rd-and-8, but replays showed that Hasselbeck's elbow hit the ground before he reached the marker.
One player later, Seattle was forced to punt. And the way the Browns had been performing offensively all season, it was as good as over. Lewis raced to the Seattle 21 on a screen pass from Anderson (29-of-48 for 364 yards) and shortly thereafter, Dawson won it on a 25-yard field goal.
Among the heroes on this Sunday was tight end Kellen Winslow, who finished with 11 catches for 125 yards. And in the locker room after the game, he spoke emotionally about what he and his team had achieved.
Maybe it was the emotion of trying to overcome numbing shoulder and knee injuries. Maybe it was the joy of finally playing for a winning team.
Whatever it was, Winslow had to fight back tears after the Browns raised their record to 5-3 by bumping off Seattle.
"It's how bad you want it," he told the Associated Press. "I'm just so proud of us because we fought as a team. We deserve this."
Winslow was forced to stop and regain his composure during post-game interviews.
"The whole team fought their butts off," he continued. "If we had lost that one, the way we came back, it may have turned the season around."
One teammate who appreciated what Winslow had gone through physically and emotionally was cornerback Leigh Bodden.
"You've got to love that guy," Bodden said. "He loves the game. He loves to play and he loves to win. He just wants it."
So did the entire defense, which wanted it bad enough to hold the Seahawks to three measly field goals after the first half and to shut them down after they received the ball to start the overtime.
The biggest play was made in overtime by strong safety Sean Jones, who plowed into Seattle tailback Maurice Morris on a blitz on fourth-and-inches to give the ball back to the Browns on their own 44. Minutes later, he and his teammates were celebrating.
"Just a great call from (defensive coordinator Todd Grantham)," Jones told espn.com. "It was like he knew what was coming. Either that of maybe he just guessed right. But whatever the case, we made the play when it counted, right?"
It seemed as if the Browns had been doing that all year.