Stayin’ alive: Browns hang on to beat Broncos 17-16

10 plays that kept the Browns' playoff hopes burning bright

Daryl Ruiter
December 15, 2018 - 11:38 pm

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns tasted win or go home December football Saturday night in Denver, and they survived.

Literally.

Interim head coach Gregg Williams decided not to kick a 28-yard field goal and went for it on fourth-and-one with less than two minutes remaining, and they didn’t get, it but Jabrill Peppers saved the day by ending Denver’s comeback bid with a fourth-down sack.

Mayfield started off hot, cooled off and then finished strong completing 18 of 31 passes overall for 188 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the victory.

Running back Nick Chubb finished with 100 yards on 20 carries, including an electrifying 40-yard dash in the fourth quarter.

Here are the 10 biggest plays from win No. 6 that keeps the playoff hopes burning for another week.

11:49 1st Q: On third-and-9, Mayfield connected with receiver Breshad Perriman for a 31-yard touchdown to cap a quick opening drive that lasted all of four plays. Perriman jumped to make the catch as he fell in the end zone with Broncos cornerback Tramaine Brock draped all over him for his first TD grab since Dec. 4, 2016.

3:18 1st Q: Three plays after 25-yard pass interference penalty on Browns cornerback Terrance Mitchell moved the ball to the three, Case Keenum ran for a one-yard TD on third-and-goal, avoiding a diving attempt by Myles Garrett to make the tackle at the five before he dove over the goal line to cap a 13-play, 88-yard drive.

4:53 2nd Q: Greg Joseph made a 40-yard field goal at the end of a nine-play, 53-yard drive, which included three defensive holding penalties on Denver. Broncos defensive end Zach Kerr batted Mayfield's pass on third-and-10 at the 22, to force the kick.

1:42 2nd Q: Jabrill Peppers stepped in front of Keenum's heave to the end zone intended for receiver Courtland Sutton to thwart another scoring threat and take the ball over at their own 20 with all three timeouts remaining. Peppers’ pick was the 16th interception this season for the Browns’ defense after recording seven in all of 2017, and 10 different players have an interception this year.

0:26 2nd Q: With the ball at the Denver 30 and a first-and-10, Mayfield recklessly threw the ball deep over the middle right to Broncos safety Dymonte Thomas blowing a golden opportunity to head into halftime with a lead and ready to receive the second half kickoff. Mayfield completed just five of his final 15 passes for 56 yards with the interception after connecting on the TD to Perriman in the opening half.

5:49 3rd Q: On second-and-six at the Denver 36, Mayfield was strip-sacked by Broncos defensive end Adam Gotsis thwarting what was a great 15-play drive that ate up 9:11 off the clock to begin the second half. Fellow Broncos defensive end Derrick Wolfe fell on the loose ball at the 40.  

0:46 3rd Q: Following a Chubb 3-yard run, Broncos – and former Browns – cornerback Jamar Taylor threw a punch at Perriman leading to his ejection. Unfortunately, Perriman lost his cool and drew a penalty offsetting the flag on Taylor. On the very next play Broncos defensive end Von Miller recorded his first sack of the night and No. 14.5 on the season leading to another Browns punt.  

14:49 4th Q: On a first-and-10 at their own 20, Keenum threw his second interception of the night with Browns defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah pressuring him up the middle. T.J. Carrie intercepted Keenum’s throw up the near sideline at the Denver 48 to give Cleveland life. Six plays later Mayfield found Antonio Callaway for a two-yard score and a 17-13 lead with 11:44 remaining in the game.

4:35 4th Q: On first-and-10 from their own 25, Chubb burst off the left side for 40-yards to the Broncos 35. The run started the drive after Denver kicked a 29-yard field goal to cut Cleveland’s lead to 17-16.

0:43 4th Q: On fourth-and-10 at the 50, Peppers raced up the middle untouched to sack Keenum for an 11-yard loss clinching the sixth victory of the season and keeping their playoff hopes alive. The Peppers sack absolved Williams’ decision not to kick a chip-shot field goal with 1:49 remaining on fourth-and-one at the 10. Chubb got dropped for a loss of four and gave the Broncos one last chance. 

The Browns’ victory ensures just the fifth time since 1999 the team will not finish a season with 10 or more losses.