Kareem Hunt hurdled Philadelphia’s Jalen Mills on a touchdown run, Olivier Vernon stepped up with star Myles Garrett out with COVID-19 by getting three sacks and a safety, and the Cleveland Browns stayed firmly in the playoff picture with a wet 22-17 victory over the Eagles.
Hunt’s leaping 5-yard score came shortly after a dazzling 54-yard run by Nick Chubb as the Browns (7-3) finally found traction in their running game in a constant downpour.
Cleveland also got a 50-yard interception return TD in the first half by second-year linebacker Sione Takitaki. The Browns constantly harassed Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz despite playing without Garrett.
Wentz’s 4-yard TD pass to Dallas Goedert pulled the Eagles (3-6-1) within 22-17, but the Browns recovered an onside kick and secured win No. 7 — one more than they had in 2019 — under first-year coach Kevin Stefanski.
On Friday, the Browns placed Garrett, the NFL sacks leader, on the COVID-19 list, and it’s not known when they’ll get him back. But his teammates stepped up.
Chubb and Hunt combined on the game’s biggest sequence in the fourth quarter.
After the Eagles closed within 12-10 on Jake Elliott’s 43-yard field goal, Hunt went on his long run, which included him flattening defensive end Joe Ostman with a stiff arm.
Two plays later, Hunt swept right and jumped over an unsuspecting Mills near the goal line to put the Browns up 19-10.
It was another tough day for Wentz and the Eagles, plagued by inconsistency and hurt by injuries all season. Wentz made a bad choice on his pick to Takitaki, threw a late interception — his 14th this season — and was sacked five times. Wentz has been sacked a league-leading 40 times.
Cody Parkey kicked two field goals as the Browns went 2-1 in three straight home games played in awful weather conditions.
Vernon, who plays on the opposite side from Garrett, gave the Browns a 12-7 lead in the third quarter when he brought down Wentz in the end zone.
Wentz’s hesitation helped set up Takitaki’s easy TD. Philly’s quarterback had an open receiver toward the near sideline, but he tried instead to swing the ball to Sanders in the flat just as he was hit from the side by blitzing cornerback Denzel Ward. The throw sailed to Takitaki, who went untouched for the score.
Philadelphia’s battered offensive line took a few more hits.
Steady starting center Jason Kelce hurt his elbow in the first half, and his loss forced the Eagles to turn to undrafted rookie Luke Juriga, the 12th lineman used this season. Kelce played the second half in a large brace.
Left tackle Lane Johnson hurt his shoulder in the second half.
Despite a rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, the Browns are one of the few teams continuing to allow fans to attend home games. There were 12,000 soaked fans inside FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday.
Eagles: DT Fletcher Cox left with an apparent leg injury in the fourth quarter. … DE Derek Barnett injured his knee early in the second half, but came back and blocked a field-goal attempt. … CB Cre’Von LeBlanc rolled his ankle in the third quarter.
Browns: Safety Ronnie Harrison, who has been a major bright spot of late, injured his knee on Philadelphia’s first series and didn’t return.
Eagles: host the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night, Nov. 30.
Browns: Cleveland hits the road at Jacksonville on Nov. 29.