Cleveland Browns: Stay in the playoff race with huge win
The Cleveland Browns dug deep for a 17-16 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 15. With two games remaining, they’re still alive in the playoff race.
The Cleveland Browns keep rolling. They are now 4-2 with Gregg Williams coaching the team and 6-7-1 overall. With two games remaining in the 2018 NFL Season, they have a shot to keep playing in January.
Yes, it’s a long shot, but they did their part this week. Cleveland was playing in the bright lights of Denver and overcame some self-inflicted wounds to pull out the one-point win — and it was as nerve-wracking as it could be.
After failing to make it on fourth down with less than two minutes to go, the defense was left to finish the job. Leading 17-16, they allowed the Broncos to move it to midfield, but safety Jabrill Peppers finished the game off by sacking Case Keenum on fourth down.
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It was his second huge play of the game as he also had an impressive pick in the end zone in the first half. Now, let’s get to our instant reactions in the huge win.
Baker Keeps Rebounding
It was a rough first half for Baker Mayfield as he was just 7-of-18 for 106 yards with a touchdown and an incredibly ugly pick. Late in the half, Mayfield tried to force the ball to Jarvis Landry and it was picked off — sending the game to the intermission in a 10-10 tie. That was honestly a good thing for the Browns because they go as Baker does.
Really, it just took him some time to get acclimated to the Denver weather. The higher altitude seemed to affect him as he was uncharacteristically high on many of his passes. He did look better in the second half, but a bad taunting penalty from Antonio Callaway, as well as a sack-fumble, ended that drive.
Mayfield finished with 188 yards and hit another touchdown — which proved to be the game winner. It wasn’t just him who had his redemption as Antonio Callaway pulled that one in after making a costly mistake earlier in the game.
Their Issues Remain
The Browns have continued to be their own worst enemy all season. Again, they proved that to be the case at times on Saturday. The interception late in the first half was a good example as the offense was unable to take the lead into the half despite the defense finding a way to get them in great position.
Cleveland also saw their first drive in the second half finish with no points due to two of their biggest issues — discipline and blocking. The Antonio Callaway penalty took them out of field goal range and then later went for it on fourth trying to extend that drive. The conversion was good, but then Mayfield was hit thanks to a blocking breakdown and fumbled the ball. As bad as that was, there may have been no turnover if they just took the field goal when they were in range — rather than going on fourth as they did.
They also had the hold on Greg Robinson that negated a 35-yard run and a terrible play from Breshad Perriman. The Browns receiver drew a penalty as he was punched by Jamar Taylor but then retaliated – after seeing the flag thrown – to wipe the penalty out. His inability to let Taylor’s action go led to a 3rd and 14 and another sack as Mayfield went down.
They Can Overcome Them
Cleveland continued to overcome issues in this game — including Gregg Williams calling a timeout that saved the Broncos from an offside call that would have iced the game. That kind of resiliency is hard to come by and can be huge for them as they hope to keep their postseason hopes alive.
Cleveland has games at home against the Cincinnati Bengals and one on the road against the Baltimore Ravens left this season. They already beat each team this year and could move to 8-7-1 if they do so again.