CLEVELAND — The Browns kicked their way to an ugly win and .500.
Phil Dawson converted two field goals over 50 yards and had two others blocked, but gave Cleveland a dull 6-3 win Sunday over the sloppy Seattle Seahawks, who came in missing starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and lost running back Marshawn Lynch to a back injury during pregame warmups.
The Browns (3-3) didn’t reach the end zone, but Dawson bailed them out with kicks of 52 and 53 yards, his first career game with two makes over 50. Despite weeks of drama and injuries for first-year coach Pat Shurmur, Cleveland has a .500 record after six games for just the fourth time since its 1999 expansion rebirth.
The Seahawks (2-4) managed 137 yards of offense, and had the ball for only 17:04. Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, filling in for Jackson, completed 12 of 30 passes for 97 yards.
Seattle’s biggest play was called back by a penalty as Leon Washington’s 81-yard punt return for a TD in the third quarter was nullified by a blocking-in-the-back infraction — one of several mistakes the young team made that angered coach Pete Carroll.
Dawson’s 24-yard attempt with 3:05 left was swatted away by Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant, who blocked a 48-yarder in the first quarter.
But Seattle couldn’t move the ball as Whitehurst had four incompletions and had a pass dropped on the Seahawks’ last possession.
It got worse in the final minute for Seattle as Bryant was ejected for head-butting Cleveland’s Alex Smith in frustration. The Seahawks’ only points were on a 20-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka in the third quarter.
This victory was forgettable on so many levels, but the Browns will gladly take it.
Earlier in the week, team president Mike Holmgren, who came to Cleveland from Seattle, had to defend Shurmur’s early performance and asked Browns fans to be patient.
Shurmur’s West Coast offense remains a work in progress, but quarterback Colt McCoy (20 of 35 for 178 yards) managed the game and was able to protect Cleveland’s slim lead in the final minutes. The Browns defense was more than up to the task and shut down the Seahawks, who hurt themselves with eight penalties.
Seattle’s chances took a big hit before the opening kickoff.
Already without Jackson, Lynch, the team’s leading rusher and top offensive weapon, got hurt as the team went through pregame drills. A team spokesman did not provide specifics about Lynch, who remained on the sideline and at one point appeared ready to enter the game.
The Browns were without running back Peyton Hillis (hamstring) and lost wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and tight end Benjamin Watson to head injuries.
Running back Montario Hardesty started for Hillis and had 33 carries for 95 yards. He also caught two passes and didn’t drop a pass — a problem for him the past two weeks.
Trailing 3-0 and with their offense going nowhere, the Seahawks appeared to get the play they needed when Washington caught Brad Maynard’s punt, made a few cuts and headed toward the end zone. However, as he crossed midfield, Seahawks cornerback Kennard Cox pushed Cleveland’s James Dockery from behind, wiping out the play.
Dawson’s 52-yard field goal was the lone score in a boring first half of mistakes, penalties and ineptitude by both teams.
Seattle gained 62 yards — 22 passing on six completions — and the Seahawks best play of the first 30 minutes may have been Jon Ryan’s 67-yard punt.
Cleveland wasn’t much better, but the Browns did manage to get close enough for Dawson to try two kicks.