Geno Smith throws late TD pass to Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seahawks top Browns 24-20

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SEATTLE (AP) — Jamal Adams used his head to give Geno Smith the chance at some late heroics that helped vault the Seattle Seahawks into first place in the NFC West.

Adams forced an interception that deflected off his helmet with 1:57 remaining. Five plays later, Smith threw a quick screen to Jaxon Smith-Njigba for a 9-yard touchdown with 38 seconds left, lifting the Seahawks to a 24-20 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Seattle (5-2) blew an early 14-point lead, but made enough plays in the fourth quarter for its fifth win in six games. The Seahawks moved a half-game ahead of division rival San Francisco, although that matters little in Week 8.

“We're in pretty good shape. That's good. And we're still growing,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.

After struggling for long stretches against the best defense in the NFL, Smith was sensational on Seattle’s final drive. He connected on 4 of 5 passes, the last of which was a quick screen to Smith-Njigba. The rookie first-round pick used a terrific block from DK Metcalf on the perimeter to sneak down the sideline and score the second touchdown of his career.

“You just got to be ready when you're out there when your number is called," Smith-Njigba said. "I had the opportunity to make a play. Geno made the right read and DK made a great block. It was just great execution.”

Seattle gave itself a chance by intercepting Cleveland quarterback P.J. Walker near midfield with 1:57 remaining on the first game-changing play by Adams since his return from a torn quadriceps tendon suffered in Week 1 of the 2022 season.

On third-and-3 at the Browns 41, Walker tried to throw a quick slant to Amari Cooper. The throw deflected off Adams' helmet as he blitzed and flew nearly 20 yards downfield, where it fell into the arms of Julian Love.

Adams said, “I got that from (Lionel) Messi.” Love said it looked more like Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Ronaldo. Messi. Whoever you want to call it. It doesn't even matter as long as we got the win,” Adams said.

Smith finished 23 of 37 for 254 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Smith’s first pick came at the end of the first half with Seattle in position to get points, and he also took a sack from Myles Garrett midway through the fourth quarter that knocked Seattle out of field goal range while trailing 20-17.

Wide receiver Jake Bobo rushed for a 3-yard touchdown and Smith threw a 12-yard touchdown to Tyler Lockett as Seattle took a 14-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game. Then the Seahawks' offense came to a stop for most of the final three quarters.

“Our team is such a scrappy team. We find ways to win no matter what,” Smith said. “I feel like if I can play up to my capabilities, play up to my standard, who knows where we can be. Because we're one of the best teams in football if we play right.”

Walker was 15 of 31 for 248 yards and threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to David Njoku in the first quarter. Most of Walker’s success through the air came on screen passes and the Browns (4-3) leaned heavily on a three-man run game.

Kareem Hunt, Pierre Strong Jr. and Jerome Ford combined for 137 yards on 33 carries. Hunt scored on a 1-yard TD run in the second quarter, but the Browns settled for field goals of 25 and 27 yards from Dustin Hopkins in the third quarter when drives stalled after moving inside the Seattle 10.

“As a team, as an offense, we fought. Just didn't make enough plays at the end,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said.

Njoku finished with four catches for 77 yards, while Cooper had six receptions for 89 yards.

Walker had three total turnovers while making his second start in place of Deshaun Watson, who has a lingering shoulder injury. Walker was intercepted by Riq Woolen in the first half and fumbled on a sack by Jordyn Brooks in the first quarter, helping Seattle take its early lead.

“Just happened to have a tipped ball at a crucial moment in the game,” Walker said. “The moment it got tipped in the air, I felt the bad feeling that it was going to be a pick or something like that.”

BACK TO THE 90s

It ended up being a memorable day for Seattle to break out its throwback uniforms with the original color scheme the franchise had from 1976-2001. The blue jerseys and silver helmets popped on a perfect, sunny fall day, and the field was decorated with the logos and end-zone colors used by the Seahawks when they played in the Kingdome.

Seattle will wear the uniforms again on Nov. 30 at Dallas. Fans have clamored for the team to go back to the design permanently.

INJURIES

Cleveland starting cornerback Greg Newsome II left in the first half with a groin injury and was ruled out early in the second half. The Browns also lost starting right tackle Dawand Jones in the third quarter to a shoulder injury. He was replaced by James Hudson.

UP NEXT

Browns: Host Arizona next Sunday.

Seahawks: At Baltimore next Sunday.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl