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Browns vs. Broncos Final Score: Cleveland survives ugly prime time game 17-16 on the road

Gregg Williams’ late blunder and Baker Mayfield’s poor first half aren’t enough to prevent a Browns victory.

Cleveland Browns v Denver Broncos Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Whew...the Browns are still alive! It was an ugly game, but the Browns came away 17-16 victory in prime time over the Broncos. Cleveland improves to 6-7-1 on the year.

Cleveland’s defense came out with their hair on fire to start the game, forcing a quick three-and-out of the Broncos. When QB Baker Mayfield got the ball, he opened with a 19-yard completion to WR Jarvis Landry. A few plays later, this happened:

It was a 31-yard strike to WR Breshad Perriman for a touchdown, putting the Browns up 7-0. Cleveland’s defense again forced a quick three-and-out, but could do nothing with their next short field. The punt pinned Denver back at the 12 yard line, and they ended up going 88 yards over 13 plays, with the help of a pass interference penalty and some missed tackles. The drive was capped off with a failed playaction fake from the 1 yard line, but QB Case Keenum was able to escape the dive from DE Myles Garrett to run it in and tie the game at 7-7.

Cleveland’s next drive stalled after a miscommunication on an attempt of a fake pass/sly handoff led to a sack of Mayfield. The punt pinned Denver back to the 15 yard line, but they again used open tight ends to move the chains before settling for a 44-yard field goal by K Brandon McManus to take their first lead of the game at 10-7.

Mayfield’s accuracy continued to be a bit off, overthrowing passes, on the team’s next drive — but the team had the assistance of several defensive holding penalties to extend the drive. It culminated in a 40-yard field goal to tie the game at 10-10 with under 5 minutes to go in the half.

The Broncos moved down the field again on their next drive, leading into the two-minute warning. On a third down play within field goal range, pressure came and Keenum lofted the ball to the end zone for a bit of a jump ball, and SS Jabrill Peppers came down with the interception (for a touchback).

That gave Mayfield the ball back at the 20 with 1:42 to go and a full arsenal of timeouts — but Cleveland went three-and-out again and Denver took two timeouts to get the ball back with 1:17 to go. But then the Browns’ defense forced a three-and-out with virtually no time coming off the clock. Peppers returned the punt to Cleveland’s own 45 yard line and 0:47 left, still with three timeouts.

Mayfield got the Browns into field goal range with a couple of dumpoff throws to move the chains, but then he made a pre-determined decision to fire the ball over the middle to Landry. Once again, as it has all half, the throw sailed and was picked off by the waiting safety, ending the half with the score tied 10-10.

Cleveland had a 9.5 minute drive going to start the second half. Miraculously, due to tons of penalties, they were only at the 36 yard line at that point. On a 2nd-and-6 play, pressure from the edge got behind Mayfield and forced an empty hand fumble, which DE Derek Wolfe hopped on top of for the recovery.

With the short field, Denver got in range for a McManus field goal, who hit from 42 yards out to give them a 13-10 lead with 1:41 left in the third quarter.

What ensued at the end of the quarter was a bit of craziness. A 35-yard run by RB Nick Chubb was called back due to a hold. Then Broncos CB Jamar Taylor was ejected for punching Perriman, but Perriman was also flagged for jawing back at him afterward, offsetting Denver’s penalty. With only one healthy cornerback, LB Von Miller got a sack to end the third quarter. Bizarrely, Keenum took an unnecessary shot to start the fourth quarter, and CB T.J. Carrie came away with the interception.

Cleveland’s receivers took advantage of Denver’s depleted cornerbacks, and made quick work for a touchdown drive that ended with a 2-yard strike to WR Antonio Callaway. That gave the Browns a 17-13 lead with 11:44 to go in the game.

The Broncos put together their own drive, but down in the red zone, Cleveland’s defense came up with a stop on 3rd-and-1. Surprisingly, Vance Joseph sent the field goal unit out to make it a 17-16 game with just 4:39 to go.

To start the next drive, Chubb busted a big run for 40 yards into Denver territory! Another run by Chubb off of a pitch play moved the chains. Heading into the two-minute warning, the Browns faced a 3rd-and-6 from the 15 yard line and the Broncos having one timeout. Do you run the ball, burn clock, home you break it, and if not kick the field goal? Or do you be aggressive against a team depleted of their cornerbacks and go for the kill?

Cleveland only got 5 yards, despite a stretch by TE David Njoku that looked like a first down. They lined up to go for it on fourth down, and Mayfield’s hard count got the Broncos to jump...but Gregg Williams had run down to call timeout for some unknown reason before the jump! No! Cleveland then went for it again, but the handoff to Chubb was stuffed immediately for a loss of 2 yards, turning the ball over on downs.

The Broncos moved the ball to midfield after a fourth down conversion with 0:52 to go...but the defense survived! The Browns brought the all-out blitz on third and fourth down, with the final play being a sack by Peppers to win it.

Quick Hitters

  • QB Baker Mayfield: 18-of-31 for 188 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT. 1 fumble. 4 rushes, 6 yards.
  • RB Nick Chubb: 20 carries, 100 yards (5.0 YPC).
  • WR Antonio Callaway: 5 catches, 35 yards, 1 TD.
  • SS Jabrill Peppers: 6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT.