The Cleveland Browns got a much-needed, gutsy win against the Denver Broncos on the back of running back D’Ernest Johnson.
No Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, or Kareem Hunt? No problem for the Cleveland Browns.
With the NFL’s best duo sidelined due to injury, it was D’Ernest Johnson who stepped up in a big way.
In his first career NFL start, Johnson rushed 22 times for a career-high 146 yards and a touchdown, leading the Browns to a 17-14 win over the Broncos. In a game the Browns needed to win, Johnson was able to tote the rock just as well as Chubb or Hunt.
Johnson was able to make something out of nothing on a number of different runs and helped the Browns dominate time of possession by nearly 14 minutes. The offense did not miss a beat despite missing a starting right tackle in Jack Conklin. Left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. returned from an ankle injury and his presence was clearly felt.
Back to Johnson. He touched the ball on 24 of Cleveland’s 67 possessions, as he also caught both of his targets for 22 yards.
We saw glimpses of this last season when Johnson came in for Chubb against the Cowboys. He rushed for 95 yards on 13 carries in a wild shootout that saw Odell Beckham Jr. score three touchdowns.
Johnson has spent the majority of his three-year career with the Browns, as he was invited to the Saints rookie minicamp, but failed to make the 90-man roster. He eventually signed with Cleveland and now he has made the most of his golden opportunity. This from a guy who went undrafted out of Southern Florida.
In the words of Larry David, pretty, pretty, pretty good.
The third-year back stepped up when the lights were the brightest in a game that the Browns needed to win after losing the last two. Johnson was a man possessed and helped in the biggest way lead Cleveland to its fourth win of the season.
Cleveland will now have 10 days to rest up before hosting AFC North rival, Pittsburgh, on Halloween day. All signs point to Chubb being able to return, but should he miss another game or be limited, Cleveland can rest easy knowing Johnson can pick up the slack.
Salute to you, D’Ernest Johnson. Enjoy this moment.