The Cleveland Browns hadn't had an offensive showing like this in decades. They didn't need their most effective offensive player for it, either.
But then late, they nearly squandered it.
Despite losing star running back Nick Chubb in the first quarter to a knee injury, the Browns scored 31 points in the first half, then survived a furious fourth-quarter rally from the Dallas Cowboys for a wild 49-38 victory.
Cleveland led 41-14 in the fourth quarter before Dallas reeled off 24 consecutive points to pull within a field goal with 3:42 to play. The Browns, however, finally iced the game on the first play of the ensuing drive, an electric Odell Beckham Jr. 50-yard touchdown run off a reverse.
"I turned the corner and everybody was blocking, and it was weird," Beckham said. "I was about to slide, but I just turned the jets on and got in the end zone."
The 31 points were the most Cleveland had scored in a first half since 1991, when Bernie Kosar was still its quarterback. In the first half alone, Cleveland rolled up 333 yards and 24 first downs -- just the fourth time since 1978 an NFL team generated that many first downs in a first half, according to Elias.
Needing only the first half Sunday, the Browns (3-1) have now scored 30-plus points in three straight games for the first time in 52 years. The last time Cleveland won three of its first four games to start a season was 2001, when current Browns starting quarterback Baker Mayfield was 6 years old and Tom Brady was making his second career NFL start.
"That speaks volumes to us after bouncing back after Week 1," said Mayfield, referring to Cleveland's 30-point season-opening loss at Baltimore before the three-game winning streak. "We have to hit the reset button. We're on to the second quarter of the year."
The Browns set an early tone Sunday, scoring on the opening drive off a dazzling trick play. Wideout Jarvis Landry took a reverse from Chubb, then tossed a left-handed, 37-yard touchdown pass to Beckham.
Later in the first half, Beckham would haul in another score for his first multi-touchdown game since joining the Browns before last season. But earlier on that drive, Chubb was injured pass-protecting Mayfield's blind side, as Dallas defensive lineman Trysten Hill rolled over his knee from behind while trying to rush Mayfield.
Chubb immediately grabbed his knee and pulled off his helmet, but was able to walk to the locker room on his own power. The team officially ruled him out at halftime. Chubb, who entered the weekend fourth in the NFL in rushing, had produced 43 rushing yards on six carries against Dallas. Coach Kevin Stefanski said Chubb would undergo an MRI.
Yet even without Chubb, neither the Cleveland offense nor its running game missed a beat. The Browns, in fact, finished with more than 200 yards on the ground for the second time in four games this season, a feat Cleveland hadn't accomplished since 1974. D'Ernest Johnson led the Browns with 83 rushing yards, while Kareem Hunt ran for 71 and scored two touchdowns. The two combined to average 7 yards on their 22 carries.
Behind Beckham's first career rushing touchdown, the Browns finished with 307 rushing yards, their highest game total in 11 years.
"The offensive line is doing a great job. ... We're working as a team," Hunt said. "Hopefully, we get [Chubb] back soon."