Cleveland was 2-2 coming off their bye week, and the uncertainty about the season’s outcome was at an all-time high.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson was hurt in Cleveland’s Week 3 victory over the Tennessee Titans and was unable to suit up against the 5-0 San Francisco 49ers in Week 6, as the Browns entered the game as a significant underdog.
The afternoon began with a scuffle between the two teams at midfield, which may have involved 49ers wideout Deebo Samuel. Cleveland made a statement in that moment, indicating that they were prepared for the challenge, but would it matter?
San Francisco received the opening kickoff and traveled 84 yards. Five plays, culminating in a 13-yard touchdown reception by Christian McCaffery.
Cleveland received the ball for the first time, and PJ Walker threw an interception to Fred Warner that hit him between the numbers five and four on his jersey.
The path was set, and Cleveland was in for a long afternoon, or so it seemed.
As the Browns’ defense settled into the game, they had other thoughts. For the first time in his young career, Brock Purdy appeared uncomfortable and unsure of what he was seeing.
Each team swapped missed field goals until midway through the second quarter, when Jake Moody split the uprights to give the 49ers a 10-0 lead.
Walker and the Browns recovered the ball and got Amari Cooper engaged. Walker lofted a ball down the left side, and No. 2 drifted underneath it, breaking a tackle and bursting along the sideline for a 58-yard gain. Kareem Hunt finished it off with a 16-yard touchdown run, narrowing the lead to 10-7 at halftime.
Coming out of halftime, the Browns orchestrated a nine-play, 48-yard drive that culminated in a Dustin Hopkins 42-yard field goal to tie the score at 10.
Both defenders dug in for the remainder of the third quarter, but the offenses struggled. Purdy threw an interception to Martin Emerson, and both teams traded punts until Cleveland got the ball back with 5:47 remaining in the third.
A couple of terrific Kareem Hunt runs put Cleveland in scoring position. Cleveland called on D-Hop, who responded with a 46-yard field goal, giving Cleveland a 13-10 lead.