Jabrill Peppers’ breakthrough game that included an interception at the end of the first half and sacking Case Keenum in the final seconds helped push the Cleveland Browns (6-7-1) past the Denver Broncos (6-8) 17-16 to keep their postseason dreams alive.
Cleveland snapped an 11-game losing streak to Denver that dated back to 1990 and with the win, officially eliminated the Broncos from playoff contention. If Cleveland doesn’t make it themselves, it’s always nice to keep teams out of it as well.
The defense had a huge performance in front of a national audience with two turnovers, two sacks and holding the Broncos offense under 300 total yards of offense and 16 points.
Baker Mayfield struggled in the first half going 7 of 18 for 108 yards, a touchdown and an interception but he bounced back in the second half going 11 of 13 for 80 yards and the go ahead touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway early in the fourth quarter.
He has now thrown for over 3,000 yards becoming the second rookie quarterback in franchise history to accomplish that feat (Brandon Weeden, 2012) and has 21 touchdown passes and is five more away from tying Peyton Manning’s NFL record of 26 touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback.
Cleveland relied on Nick Chubb down the stretch although the drive didn’t end with points because of a controversial call to go for it by head coach Gregg Williams.
After rushing for 47 yards in his first 14 carries, Chubb had 53 yards on six carries in that final drive to give him his third 100-yard game this season. He’s 140 yards away from 1,000 yards rushing.
Going back to the Williams situation, he called a timeout when Denver clearly jumped into the neutral zone which should’ve resulted in a Cleveland first down and would’ve finished the game.
He decided to go for it and Chubb was stopped on fourth down and gave Denver the ball back.
Many will say they should’ve taken the three points but with rookie Greg Joseph shaky at times and being in Denver with a loud crowd surrounding him, it wasn’t a given he’d make a chip shot field goal.
Williams is obviously trying to become the permanent head coach of the Browns and has always taken an aggressive approach whether it’s as a head coach or defensive coordinator but many didn’t like this and are adding it to the reasons for why he shouldn’t be the head coach.
Regardless of all the chaos, Cleveland is 4-2 under Williams and he has turned the direction of the team a complete 180 from what it was under Hue Jackson and has the organization and city believing the Browns can beat any team on any given game day.
Next week is the final home game of the season against Cincinnati who the Browns defeated 35-20 three weeks ago.
It’ll be Hue Jackson’s first trip back to Cleveland since getting fired nearly two months ago and I’m sure the home crowd will give him a warm welcome back.
The home crowd will definitely be fired up because it is the final home game and the Browns are still in the playoff hunt. Baker told them to bring it and I guarantee they will.