Posted: Dec 9, 2012 4:56 PM
CLEVELAND -- Defensive end Juqua Parker emerged from the trainer's room and headed to his locker singing a tune -- one that might sum up the current Browns.
"We're not gonna take it," Parker said, repeating the chorus to Twisted Sister's 1980s hard rock anthem. "We're not gonna take it ... anymore."
The Browns are tired of losing.
Rookie Travis Benjamin's electrifying 93-yard punt return touchdown early in the second quarter swung momentum in Cleveland's favor, and the Browns won their third straight, 30-7 over the emotionally drained Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Rookie running back Trent Richardson had a pair of 1-yard TD runs for Cleveland to tie Hall of Famer Jim Brown's franchise record of touchdown runs by a rookie with nine.
The young-and-improved Browns enjoyed a 23-point margin of victory, their largest since 2003 -- a significant accomplishment for a franchise with 11 double-digit loss seasons since 1999.
Benjamin's game-changer helped the Browns (5-8) continue their resurgence under second-year coach Pat Shurmur, whose future in Cleveland remains uncertain. With three games left, the Browns, who opened this season 0-5, have surpassed their win total from last season and have their longest winning streak since 2009.
"It's all kind of coming together," said 14-year veteran kicker Phil Dawson, who booted three field goals. "We're just doing all the little things right now. Guys are hungry to come back to work every day. There's some energy around here that I haven't felt. This is all good."
Added linebacker D'Qwell Jackson: "It's been a long year. At first, it was rocky. We were in a lot of close ballgames and we weren't able to finish, and now we're starting to create something. We had some young guys at the beginning of the season that were a little immature, and they've grown up a little bit.
"We have something going right now."
Jamaal Charles ran for 165 yards, breaking off an 80-yard TD run on the game's first play for Kansas City, playing its first road game following linebacker Jovan Belcher's suicide. The 25-year-old killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, at their home before driving to the team's practice facility on Dec. 1 and shooting himself.
Richardson's second TD early in the fourth quarter gave the Browns a 27-7 lead and finally put away the Chiefs (2-11), who a week ago were able to pull together and win at home over Carolina, less than one day after Belcher's unspeakable act.
Coach Romeo Crennel rallied his team through the difficult ordeal, but it may have been too much to expect the Chiefs to repeat last week's performance. Their practice schedule was adjusted during the week to attend a service for Belcher, and the days of reflection and grief may have taken a toll.
"It is going to be with some guys the rest of their lives," quarterback Brady Quinn said. "But it was not a distraction because we live to play football. We just didn't play an all-around football game like we did last week."
Charles returned after suffering a rib injury that knocked him out one series. Kansas City, though, lost leading receiver Dwayne Bowe, who injured his ribs in the first half and didn't come back.
Without Bowe, Quinn was without his top target. Quinn, who had his finest game as a pro last week, finished 11 of 22 for 159 yards and one interception.
Dawson kicked field goals of 23, 24 and 34 yards for the Browns, 3-1 since the bye with the loss at Dallas in overtime. Dawson's first kick made him the 25th player in NFL history to make 300 field goals.
Benjamin's 93-yard punt return -- the longest in team history -- gave the Browns a 10-7 lead.
Just before the snap, Benjamin lined up to block Kansas City's gunner before sprinting 50 yards and switching spots with Josh Cribbs, who rushed up the middle. Benjamin fielded the kick inside his 10, cut sharply left, picked up a few key blocks and outran the rest of Kansas City's coverage unit.
The Browns worked on the play in practice and sprung it on the Chiefs.
"Biggest play of the game," quarterback Brandon Weeden said. "They were yelling something crazy on the sideline. I didn't know what they were doing, and all of a sudden they pulled something out their hat and Travis breaks one. That got us the lead and we were able to keep it."
The return by the speedy Benjamin, a fourth-round pick out of Miami, was 1 yard longer than Eric Metcalf's TD at Cincinnati on Sept. 4, 1994.
Now with Benjamin joining Richardson, Weeden and wide receiver Josh Gordon as playmakers, the Browns have a solid offensive foundation for the future. On defense, several rookies, including linemen Billy Winn and John Hughes have contributed all season.
Shurmur and his staff have the Browns headed in the right direction, but there's no guarantee new owner Jimmy Haslam will allow them to stay next season.
"Guys are excited," Weeden said. "Guys are still hungry. We've got a close-knit group guys. We don't have any knuckleheads."
The Browns drove 60 yards after the second-half kickoff with Richardson plowing in for his eighth rushing TD. He later got his ninth score to tie Brown's record, set in 1957.