KANSAS CITY -- Even before the Cleveland Browns walked into Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs knew what type of attitude the visitors would carry into the game.
For the last few years, the Chiefs had trouble winning and they were always the hunter, trying to capture victory against teams with better records.
Now with the NFL's only unbeaten record at midseason, the Chiefs are the team that is being hunted. They were still able to push their record to 8-0 on the season with a 23-17 victory over the Browns.
It was easily the toughest game of the first eight for the Chiefs.
"We are going to get everybody's best game from here on out," Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali said. "That's a good football team that we beat today. We've been in their shoes where you have a team that's better than the record shows. We've done that."
The Browns are 3-5, but they were a factor in the game until late in the fourth quarter when a fumbled punt return by wide receiver Davone Bess was recovered by the Chiefs and helped set up a late Kansas City field goal that finalized the game.
"Disappointing loss there," Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. "We weren't able to make the plays at the end of the game that we needed to win the game and give Kansas City credit; they did (make those plays)."
The Chiefs' defense controlled the Cleveland running game, but the Browns new starting quarterback, Jason Campbell, overcame a slow start and was able to hit some big passing plays. Campbell threw for 293 years and a pair of touchdown passes, and he kept several possessions alive with his legs as he ran for 17 yards on three plays.
The Chiefs' offense performed well in the first half, dominating the ball and putting 20 points on the board. But in the second half they managed just 50 offensive yards on 24 plays. Cleveland turned up the pass rush pressure on quarterback Alex Smith, sacking him six times in all, with five of those coming in the second half.
"The first half everything was pretty smooth and working," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "Then came the second half ... this one was awfully close, but the guys battled. I mean what hearts they have."
The same can be said for the Cleveland defense that was able to stifle any thoughts of scoring by the Chiefs in the second half until the fumbled punt set Kansas City up with great field position.
"In the first half we were watching, we weren't playing defense," Browns nose tackle Phil Taylor said. "We were on the field too long in the first half. In the second half, we knew what we had to do."
The Chiefs' offense dominated possession in the first half, holding the ball for 22:46. They produced 20 points on a pair of touchdown passes by Smith and two Ryan Succop field goals.
Those 3-pointers came from 42 and 35 yards and it was early in the second quarter when the Chiefs scored the game's first touchdown at the end of a 14-play, 82-yard drive that ate up 7:34 on the clock. The big play was a 23-yard scrambling run by Smith on a third-and-5 at the Browns 35-yard line. Three plays later he threw a screen pass to fullback Anthony Sherman, who scored on the 12-yard play. The PAT kick gave the Chiefs a 13-0 lead.
What the Browns said
"At first glance he made some great plays for us. I think his leadership was key in us being able to hang in there and fight through the early deficit. We'll have to go back and look at the tape but I think he did some really good things." -- Coach Rob Chudzinski on quarterback Jason Campbell.
What the Chiefs said
"No matter what's pitched at us, what's thrown at us and they gave us their best show, we always feel like we can withstand the blow and that we can come out there and win." -- Free safety Kendrick Lewis.
What we learned about the Browns
1. Trade rumors have swirled around Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon for weeks now and if Sunday's game was a showcase, then he did his part. Gordon caught five passes for 132 yards and a touchdown against Kansas City's highly regarded secondary. Now, he waits for the NFL trading deadline that comes up on Tuesday. "There's really nothing more to be said about it," Gordon said after the game. "I know just as much as all of your guys know. When it happens or if it doesn't happen we'll know at the same time."
2. The Browns' pass protection overall was good against a Kansas City defense that leads the NFL in sacks with 36 in eight games. Quarterback Jason Campbell went down just one time, although he was hit five other times and was forced to scramble away from pressure three times. Although left tackle Joe Thomas was flagged three times (two holding calls and one false start) he was able to handle Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali. As adequate as the pass protection was, the Browns were unable tor run the ball, with just 57 yards on 15 carries and only 40 of those yards coming from Willis McGahee and Chris Ogbonnaya.
What we learned about the Chiefs
1. The Chiefs got big plays from a couple of players largely unknown to football fans around the country. It was fullback Anthony Sherman that scored the game's first touchdown, a 12-yard screen pass that was his first NFL touchdown. "I've been waiting for that one," Sherman said. "I'm sending the ball to my Mom. She knows it's coming, because I told her if it happened the ball was hers." In the fourth quarter, the Chiefs recovered a fumbled punt by the Browns and it was outside linebacker Frank Zombo that came up with the ball in the pile.
2. Poor pass protection is making life difficult for Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. He went down six times against Cleveland and that's now 24 sacks on the season. Rookie right tackle Eric Fisher has struggled at times, but against the Browns, every player on the offensive line appeared to struggle, including left tackle Branden Albert, who was beaten on a speed rush by Cleveland's rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo.