CLEVELAND (AP) — Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill each had touchdown runs and the New Orleans Saints went outside and handled Cleveland’s arctic-like cold in a 17-10 win Saturday over the Browns, who were officially eliminated from the playoffs.
The Saints (6-9) were 0-6 in outdoor games this season before rallying to beat the Browns (6-9) in the coldest game in New Orleans history.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson drove Cleveland to the Saints’ 15 in the final minute, but he was sacked on fourth down with 19 seconds left by Carl Granderson, ending the Browns’ postseason hopes.
Kamara scored on a 4-yard run late in the third quarter — set up by Daniel Sorensen’s interception of Watson and 36-yard return — as the Saints, still kicking in the NFC playoff hunt, overcame a 10-0 deficit.
New Orleans came in trailing Tampa Bay by one game in the weak, wide-open NFC South.
Cleveland is guaranteed a losing season in coach Kevin Stefanski’s third year, having played most of this one without Watson.
“Very disappointing,” Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett said following the game. “It is not where we want to be. It is not where we expected to be at the beginning of the season.”
Watson, too expressed his disappointment for how the game ended and what that meant for the season.
“It is tough. It is very tough,” Watson told reporters. “You just have to, like I said, finish these two weeks strong and then look back and review the season and what we could have did better and try to improve. Come back next season and try to do what we need to do.”
Watson had a 12-yard rushing TD but struggled to pass in the blustery conditions (15 of 31 for 135 yards) and fell to 2-2 as a starter since returning from his 11-game suspension for sexual misconduct allegations.
The Browns’ porous rushing defense was a problem once again as the Saints, rotating Andy Dalton and Hill at quarterback and snapping it directly to Kamara, rolled up 152 yards on the ground.
The temperature was 6 degrees at kickoff, making it the coldest regular-season game in Cleveland history. Only the Browns’ 1981 playoff game (1 degree) against the Oakland Raiders was worse.
It was coldest at FirstEnergy Stadium, which opened in 1999. During the first quarter, the Browns invited any fans sitting in the upper deck to move to the lower bowl and hundreds of fans accepted the offer.
The Saints had never been this cold. Their previous coldest game was 24 degrees on Dec. 26, 1993 in Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium.
Watson’s TD scamper gave the Browns a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.
With Cleveland’s offense unable to do anything productive, the defense came through as safety Grant Delpit intercepted a pass by Dalton that went off tight end Juwan Johnson’s hands and returned it 40 yards to the Saints’ 30.
Five plays later, Watson swept left on third down and scored untouched for his first rushing TD with Cleveland.
The Browns then ate up 8:44 on the clock with a drive capped by rookie Cade York’s 30-yard field goal to take a 10-0 led.
Browns: Visit Washington on Jan. 1.