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.
The Browns' offense did not have a first down until inside 3:30 to play in the first half, but suddenly Campbell got hot, hitting tight end Jordan Cameron for 19 yards and then wide receiver Josh Gordon for 39 yards and a touchdown. After the PAT, the Browns trailed 13-7.
Smith brought the Chiefs right back on the next possession, going 75 yards on six plays, using just 1:33 of the game clock. Charles had two carries for 31 yards in the drive. K.C.'s second touchdown pass of the game came on a 28-yard throw from Smith to wide receiver Dexter McCluster. The extra point pushed the Chiefs to a 20-7 lead with 1:11 to play in the half.
That was just enough time for Campbell to get the Browns in field-goal range and kicker Billy Cundiff was good from 44 yards, setting the halftime score at 20-10.
Cleveland had the first possession of the second half and Campbell got hot again, leading a nine-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 17-yard touchdown pass to running back Fozzy Whittaker. Cundiff's PAT pulled the Browns within a field goal at 20-17.
The rest of the game was a defensive battle, and the Browns were up to the task.
"That's a good defense they have," said running back Jamaal Charles, who finished with 119 yards of offense. "They are good and they are fast and they were able to do some things against us and we didn't get the job done."
All was quiet until less than 30 seconds remained in the game when Succop kicked a 40-yard field goal to set the final score at 23-17.
"So many games in the NFL are won by seven points or less," Reid said. "You work hard during training camp, so you're mentally strong to be able to handle things like this."
Notes: Sherman's touchdown catch was the first of his three-year NFL career. ... Trade rumors have surrounded Browns WR Josh Gordon for weeks. With Tuesday's trade deadline approaching, he put on a show case performance, catching five passes for 132 yards with a touchdown. ... Browns WR/KR Travis Benjamin left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury. ... Charles missed a third-quarter possession with a bruised knee, but returned the next time Kansas City had the ball. ... Next up for the Chiefs is a trip to Buffalo to face the Bills. The Browns will host the Baltimore Ravens.