The Browns lost their starting quarterback and one of their key cornerbacks on Sunday. But Cleveland was still able to pull out a big win over Indianapolis by putting together the game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.
Indianapolis receiver Michael Pittman caught the ball up the middle and broke a pair of tackles to go 75 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 5:38 remaining.
But after the Browns and Colts exchanged punts, Cleveland had one last shot to get into the end zone and make it count.
After driving into the red zone, it looked like Colts’ AJ Speed had forced quarterback P.J. Walker to win the game. But the Colts were called for illegal contact with receiver Amari Cooper, giving the Browns a first-and-goal on the 8-yard line.
A defensive pass interference penalty then gave the Browns the ball on the 1-yard line.
With 19 seconds remaining on fourth-and-goal from the 1, Kareem Hunt made his way into the end zone for a touchdown.
Quarterback Gardner Minshew was nearly intercepted on the first play of the next drive. But then he fumbled a third time when defensive end Za’Darius Smith sacked him and Ogbo Okoronkwo recovered the loose ball to effectively end the game.
Minshew’s first two fumbles were forced by defensive end Myles Garrett, who made several big plays in the game. Garrett sacked Minshew late in the first quarter, leading to Hunt’s 2-yard touchdown run. Garrett then somehow jumped over the line to block a 60-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter, which led to a 44-yard field goal. Finally, Garrett sacked Mincio in the end zone, which linebacker Tony Fields recovered for a touchdown.
Garrett finished the game with nine total tackles, 2.0 sacks, a tackle for loss, two forced fumbles, and a pass defensed by knocking down a Minchio pass down at the line of scrimmage.
Minshew’s final line was 15 of 23 for 305 yards with two touchdowns, an interception and three fumbles.
The Colts had their best performance of the season against Cleveland’s vaunted defense, recording 456 total yards, 20 first downs, and converting 7 of 15 third downs. But the team lost the turnover margin 4-2.
Walker was playing at the end of the contest because Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson exited the contest with 3:13 left in the first quarter and did not return. Head coach Kevin Stefanski told CBS Radio that the team has been more cautious with Watson’s shoulder. Watson didn’t look good before he was pulled, completing 1 of 5 passes for 5 yards with an interception.
Walker finished 15 of 32 for 178 yards with an interception.
Browns kicker Dustin Hopkins set a league record by making a field goal of at least 50 yards in five straight games. He made field goals of 44, 54, 54 and 58 yards on Sunday.
Browns cornerback Denzel Ward had to sit out the game to be evaluated for a head injury and did not return. Running back Jerome Ford was also dealing with an ankle injury. Colts cornerback JuJu Brents also had to sit out the game with a quad injury.
Now at 4-2, the Browns will head west to play the Seahawks in Week 8.
The Colts will host the 3-4 Saints next weekend.
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