CLEVELAND—Comments were being heard throughout the game that Peyton Manning looks ‘like an aging boxer’ or ‘he looks old’, but when the game was on the line, Manning took his team 72 yards to set up the game-winning field goal in overtime and keep the Broncos undefeated at 6-0. Meanwhile, the Browns drop to 2-4 in front of 67,431 fans at FirstEnergy Stadium in the 26-23 loss.
“Peyton found a way to win,” Mike Pettine said after the game. “It’s extremely disappointing to be on the brink of a win and not be able to finish, is disappointing."
“We just made too many mistakes to come away with a win,” he said.“It’s frustrating to be that close and come up short.”
Manning finished 26-of-48 for 290 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions and a rating of just 53.3.
The Browns had their share of opportunities to steal the game away in regulation and in overtime.
Trailing 16-14, linebacker Karlos Dansby intercepted a pass from Manning that went off Ronnie Hillman’s hands with and tip-toed down the sideline for 35 yards and a touchdown to give the Browns a 20-16 lead with 8:07 to play. The Browns went for a two-point conversion that failed. Dansby intercepted a pass earlier in the game, as well.
After Dansby’s touchdown, the Broncos responded quickly as Manning threw a 75-yard pass as he hit Emmanuel Sanders in stride running by Tramon Williams to give the Broncos the lead right back five seconds later at 23-20.
After both teams traded punts, the Browns had a chance to win the game in regulation as they took over with 4:51 to play at their own 40. The Browns moved all the way to the Broncos 11 with 1:53 to play aided by a roughing the passer penalty on Derek Wolfe. However, a one-yard pass to Malcolm Johnson and a three yard run by Isaiah Crowell moved the ball to the eight but set up third-and-7. McCown threw incomplete over the head of Brian Hartline in the back of the end zone to set up Travis Coons’ 26-yard field goal with 1:32 to play.
Pettine said the Browns were trying to win the game in regulation.
“Malcolm was open early and we thought we could hit a run on them on the next play,” Pettine said. “We just didn’t convert.”
After the Broncos got the ball after the Browns had tied the score,
Manning threw three-straight incomplete passes in the span of 12 seconds and the Broncos had to punt the ball back to the Browns. Denver punted and Travis Benjamin caught the ball at the 40 with 1:06 to play. McCown hit Benjamin on a 14-yard pass to open the drive to the Broncos’ 46. However, after an incomplete pass McCown made a bad decision and threw an interception to David Bruton that was intended for Gary Barnidge sending the game to overtime.
“I was just trying to throw the ball out of bounds and didn’t get enough on it and it was intercepted,” he said. “It just makes me sick.”
Pettine didn’t fault McCown.
“That was just him being a competitor.”
The Broncos started the overtime and on third-and-7, Barkevious Mingo leaped high in the air and intercepted Manning and the Browns had a first down at the Broncos’ 39. However, the Browns started the drive with a three-yard loss by Robert Turbin. Two back-to-back sacks put the Browns back to their own 43 and they had to punt the ball back to the Broncos.
“Obviously, it was not good,” McCown said of the drive. “You have to get something going there and it hurt us. The defense played lights out and we just didn’t hold up our end. It’s a shame.”
McCown took a lot of the blame for the loss even though he brought the Browns back 16-7 and 23-20 with two touchdown passes to Barnidge. McCown finished 20-of-39 for 213 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions and a rating of 63.3. He was sacked four times.
“That’s how I’m wired,” McCown said. “I feel a lot is on my shoulders. We had some opportunities. It’s really disappointing. “
With one more opportunity, Manning took the Broncos to the Browns’ 16 before Brandon McManus kicked the game-winning field goal.
“It’s a huge missed opportunity,” McCown said. “We’ll feel like that for the next 24 hours and then we’ll bounce back and respond. We felt the same way after the loss to San Diego.”
Barnidge Continues Strong: TE Gary Barnidge caught a touchdown for the fourth-straight game on a 11-yard pass from QB Josh McCown with 11:07 left in the third quarter on the opening drive of the second half. Barnidge caught the Browns second touchdown with 9:16 to play in the game as McCown hit him in the back of the end zone behind former Browns DB T.J. Ward. Barnidge finished with three receptions for 39 yards, including the two touchdowns.
Benjamin’s Day: WR Travis Benjamin continued his strong season with nine receptions for 117 yards, including a 47-yard pass from McCown to set up the second score on a free play after Denver jumped offsides.
Pick Six: McCown tried to hit WR Travis Benjamin and DB Aqib Talib stepped in front and returned the interception 63 yards for a touchdown and the Broncos led 10-0.
Turbinator: RB Robert Turbin was active for the first time since he was claimed in the preseason with a high ankle sprain from the Seattle Seahawks. He entered in the second quarter with 14:03 to play in the half and the Browns trailing 10-0. Turbin had a six-yard run on his first carry. He finished with 10 carries for 27 yards with a long of eight yards. RB Duke Johnson had 38 yards on nine carries and caught three passes for 18 yards. RB Isaiah Crowell had 32 yards on 11 carries and caught two passes for 9 yards.
Dansby Day: LB Karlos Dansby interecepted QB Peyton Manning in the first quarter. It was only the second interception of the season for the Browns. He then intercepted Manning again for a 35 yard touchdown to give the Browns the lead in the fourth quarter.
Mingo Pick: LB Barkevious Mingo had a huge interception in overtime that looked as though it could propel the Browns to the win as it was in Denver territory at the 39. However, the Browns lost yardage and were forced to punt.
Housler, Johnson, Carder Hurt: TE Rob Housler injured his hamstring in the first half and did not return. Johnson left being evaluated for a concussion but returned. After the game, Pettine said Johnson had a shoulder injury, as did LB Tank Carder.
Busy Day: P Andy Lee punted seven times for 322 yards (46.0 avg.).
Desir Leads: DB Pierre Desir led the Browns with 12 tackles filling in for DB Joe Haden (concussion). LB Christian Kirksey had nine tackles, while Dansby had seven.
Sackless: The Browns were unable to sack QB Peyton Manning.
Inactives: QB Austin Davis, wide receiver Marlon Moore, cornerback Joe Haden, safety Tashaun Gipson, linebacker Craig Robertson, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and tight end E.J. Bibbs.
Turbin is expected to contribute immediately with running back Isaiah Crowell banged up with a toe injury. Crowell is active.
Haden is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol after hitting his head on the ground last week against the Ravens. Gipson will miss his second-straight game with an ankle injury while Robertson will miss his third game. Jordan Poyer starts for Gipson, while Pierre Desir starts for Haden. Christian Kirksey starts for Robertson.
With Davis being inactive, it means that quarterback Johnny Manziel is the backup to Josh McCown, despite having a brush with the law last week involving alcohol and a domestic incident.
Bowe has been inactive in four of the six games after signing a two-year $12.5 million contract, including $9 million guaranteed in 2015. The Browns coaching staff keep insisting that it is a long season and Bowe will contribute before the season is over. Bowe has yet to catch a pass.
Captains: DB K’Waun Williams, DL Armonty Bryant, RB Isaiah Crowell and WR Taylor Gabriel were the Browns captains. Three are in their second year and Bryant in his third season.
Top Duo: Former Browns RB Kevin Mack and RB Earnest Byner were honored at halftime for their 1,000 yard seasons in 1985.