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Billy Winn’s big run helps his team skate by: Cleveland Browns Insider

Billy Winn has performed some radical stunts in his days as an extreme sports enthusiast. As a teenager, he caught some big air on his skateboard while riding it through his neighbor’s halfpipe.

But nothing proved more exhilarating than what Winn did before adoring fans at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday. He ran with a football.

The 6-4, 295-pound defensive tackle scooped a fourth-quarter fumble created by Browns teammate Emmanuel Stephens and rumbled 35 yards before being caught from behind by Cincinnati Bengals halfback Cedric Peerman. The big play sealed the Browns’ 34-24 victory, their first of the season.

“I just had tunnel vision,” said Winn, who picked up the ball cleanly after Stephens sacked quarterback Andy Dalton and forced the turnover. “I just heard the crowd, and I was thinking: ‘Run, run, run.’”

The rookie recovered fumbles at Boise State but never had the chance to fulfill the fantasy of many defensive linemen — a football in his grasp and acres of running room between himself and the goal line.

The Bengals were inside the Browns’ 10 and threatening to make it a three-point game with 2:39 remaining. Once Winn retrieved the ball, he took off down the middle of the field. He never glanced at the stadium jumbotron to see if anyone was gaining ground but could feel Peerman grabbing at the football.

Winn held on tight and fell to the turf. An hour after the game, the ball was tucked firmly in his locker.

“I’ll probably put it in a lock box so nobody takes it away from me,” Winn said jokingly. “No, I’m definitely going to frame this, and it’s going to sit where I can see it every day. … These things don’t come every day. This is a gift.”

Winn gave full credit to Stephens for creating the big play with his rush off the edge.

The Browns surrendered just 24 points despite playing without standout defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (calf). Winn and fellow rookie John Hughes started at the tackles. The Browns, who ranked 26th against the rush, allowed a season-low 76 yards rushing.

“We knew we were a little shorthanded, but it comes down to carrying that flag,” Winn said. “A guy goes down, and that’s part of football. You have to finish. You have to pick it up and get going.” 

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