Backups D'Ernest Johnson and Case Keenum led the Cleveland Browns to a convincing win over the visiting Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football. Favored by 1.5 points, Cleveland rode Johnson's 146-yard, one-touchdown night to a 17-14 win over Denver to improve to 4-3 on the season. Vic Fangio's Broncos fall to last place in the AFC West at 3-4.
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Keenum wasn't spectacular, but he didn't have to be. He kept the offense on schedule, limited mistakes and hit multiple throws past the sticks on key third downs. He completed 21-of-33 passes for 199 yards, 12 first downs, one touchdown and took a sack. On PFF's first review of the game, he had zero big-time throws and one turnover-worthy play. He should finish PFF's reviews with a 65.0-plus PFF passing grade.
It was Johnson's night. Filling in for the injured Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the former South Florida back rushed for 146 yards and one touchdown on his 22 carries (6.6 yards per carry). He broke five tackles and gained 75 yards after contact while rushing for seven first downs as well. Four of his 22 runs went for 10 yards or more, and he was held to zero or fewer yards on just one carry.
|Running back||Explosive runs||Yards After Contact||Missed tackles forced|
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Jarvis Landry (7) and Odell Beckham Jr. (6) led the team in targets despite battling injuries throughout the game, and the duo combined for seven receptions for 60 yards. Five of Landry's seven targets were contested at the catch point, and he only came down with three of them. OBJ caught his only contested target but dropped another. Fullback Johnny Stanton caught the only passing touchdown from Keenum from one yard out on the goalline.
All five of the Browns' offensive linemen played the entire game (71 total snaps). Stepping in for the injured Jack Conklin, Blake Hance was the team's lowest-graded offensive lineman on PFF's first review of the broadcast film, allowing a team-high four total pressures. Veteran guard Wyatt Teller was easily the most impressive and should end up as the team's highest-graded offensive lineman on the night.
While the rest of the Browns' defensive line turned in relatively forgettable performances, Defensive Player of the Year favorite Myles Garrett was his usual dominant self. He and Jadeveon Clowney both recorded six total pressures, but Garrett more than doubled Clowney's pass-rush win rate and earned a 90.0-plus PFF pass-rushing grade as a result.
Mack Wilson only played 17 snaps but still made four tackles, including two defensive stops. He also allowed just one reception for three yards in coverage. The other Browns linebackers combined for eight receptions allowed for 40 yards, two first downs and one touchdown.
Denzel Ward hurt his hamstring and was ruled out quickly following the injury. He allowed three receptions for 26 yards and a touchdown before being sidelined. Rookie Greg Newsome II led the defensive backs in yards allowed with 58 but also added a forced incompletion and was in phase on a lot of his targets.
Teddy Bridgewater started slow enough for some Broncos fans to call for backup Drew Lock entering the second half, but he bounced back enough to at least finish the game. He threw an ugly interception to Browns safety John Johnson III and led the Denver offense to zero points through the first two quarters.
He did, however, close out the game with 23 completions on 33 attempts for 187 yards, two touchdowns, two sacks and the interception. It wasn't an awful performance from Bridgewater, but it was not mistake-free and simply not enough to make up for a defense giving the Browns everything they wanted on the ground.
Veteran Melvin Gordon made a nice move on his red-zone receptions to find paydirt early in the second half, but that was his lone highlight. He forced four missed tackles on his eight carries but mustered just 18 total yards and one first down.
Rookie Javonte Williams added just 16 more yards on his four carries with one broken tackle on the ground but showed up big in the passing game. He caught 6-of-7 targets for 32 yards and a score.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Four of Courtland Sutton‘s five receptions went for first downs, and he led the team in receiving yards with 68. His most impressive play was a one-handed snag on a well-placed ball down the right sideline from Bridgewater.
Tight end Noah Fant led the wide receiver/tight end group in targets (six) but recorded just five receptions for 39 yards and one first down. A result of a woefully conservative passing attack, no other Broncos receiver finished with more than 16 receiving yards.
Center Lloyd Cushenberry III was the only Broncos offensive lineman with a PFF grade above 70.0 on first review. Left tackle Garett Bolles fell victim to Garrett and the Browns' defensive line on multiple occasions and will likely finish PFF's reviews as the team's lowest-graded lineman. Bolles allowed a team-high five total pressures, and tackle Bobby Massie finished second with three.
Both Jonathan Cooper and Von Miller turned in strong performances on 40 and 33 defensive snaps, respectively. They were the only two Broncos defensive linemen with 80.0-plus PFF grades on first review. Defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones led the team with five total pressures while Cooper finished second with four.
With Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell sidelined with season-ending injuries, Denver's linebacking corps was a clear-cut weakness. Both Justin Strnad and Curtis Robinson earned sub-31.0 PFF grades on first review with four combined missed tackles. The Broncos' run defense will take a lit for as long as the team's linebacker play is as bad as it was against Cleveland on Thursday night.
Rookie Patrick Surtain II may be one of the few obvious bright spots for the Broncos right now. The former Alabama standout continues to impress week after week and turned in another solid performance against Cleveland. He allowed just one reception on six targets.
Veteran Kareem Jackson led the team in yards allowed (46) and finished the game with three missed tackles.