CLEVELAND—Quarterback Johnny Manziel’s return to the field was a success as he led the Browns to a 24-10 over the 49ers. The Browns have won just three games this season and Manziel started two of those games.
Manziel was asked if he was happy with his performance.
“Yeah, minus the pick before the half,” Manziel said. “You look at what we did running the ball, finally got a good breakout game – 200 or whatever yards we rushed for. That’s a big credit to all the guys up front. There were holes for our backs to run through, and when they were there, they hit them. When our defense plays the way that they did, run the ball the way that we did and then that opens up some of the play-action pass game. It’s a good combination for us to come out and score some points.”
After throwing for 372 yards in a loss to the Steelers on Nov. 15, Manziel shook off the rust and was 21-of-31 for 270 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His rating was 92.1. He also ran seven times for 15 yards,including a long of eight yards.
Mike Pettine was impressed with Manziel’s play.
“Sure, he did some good things,” Pettine said. “He did a lot more good than he did bad. Like all of our players, there is a lot to learn from. To go out and execute a gameplan and win a football game – people asked me what did I expect from him – we expected him to do his job and for most of the game he did.”
Manziel feels he’s getting better each opportunity he gets.
“Like I said, every time I have been behind center and gotten a chance to make another start, I feel more confident,” Manziel said. “I feel that I am able to go through my reads. I am able to slow down all the protection stuff and make sure we have a guy on a guy and able to sit back there and know you are protected. For me personally, it is continue to try and progress. Like I said, every time I felt like I have got back there, I have learned something and continuing to move on and make sure that I don’t make mistakes, the same way I did today.”
Overall, on the season, Manziel is 97-of-159 for 1,203 yards (61 pct.) with six touchdowns and three interceptions. His rating for the season is 89.2. He said he has an overall much better grasp of the NFL game.
“Yeah, it’s much better,” Manziel said. “Whether it’s run checks, whether it’s going through our progressions, it’s able to eliminate your one or two progressions just based off the coverage as soon as you get the ball in your hands. Knowing that you only have three guys instead of having to go through all five, you can eliminate a side of the field is nice. Run checks, being able to see any lean of the safety and being able to get us in the right play, I told Josh (McCown) today it’s continuing to slow down for me and it’s a great feeling to be able to sit there and know when you’re protected and know when you’re not and know when you need to get the ball out. It’s getting better.”
The Browns finish the season with two road games at Seattle and Kansas City before finishing the season at home against the Steelers on Jan. 3. Manziel knows that will be a steep test for him and the Browns, but for now is enjoying the win over the 49ers.
“It is going to be a challenge,” Manziel said. “We obviously know what we are up against these next couple of weeks. We are going to have come in and prepare hard this week and make sure we are on our stuff on a long trip to Seattle. Personally, like I said, it was nice to know when you are protected and know when you are blocked up and go through your progressions and be able to work through and knowing guys are going to be in the right spots.
“Great feeling personally, but even better feeling being in the locker knowing that we get a Victory Monday, get a chance to get another win,” he said. “That is what it is all about – winning games in the NFL, regardless of how many it is.”
Hartline Big Day, Lost for Season: WR Brian Hartline had his biggest game of the season but unfortunately ended with a broken collar bone that will cost him the rest of the season. Hartline had eight receptions for 107 yards before the injury, which was his best game of the season. Hartline finishes his season with 46 receptions for 523 yards (11.4 avg.) with two touchdowns.
Sack Attack: The Browns had their best game of the season with nine sacks, including five sacks in the first half. Coming into the game, the Browns had just seventeen sacks all season, including seven against the Titans in the second game of the season. LB Armonty Bryant and rookie LB Nate Orchard had two sacks each to lead the Browns, followed by DL Desmond Bryant who had 1.5. DB Donte Whitner, DB Jordan Poyer and LB Christian Kirksey each added one, while rookie DL Xavier Cooper had .5. Three of the sacks were when Gabbert ran out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage.
On the season, 16 of the Browns 26 sacks came in two games. Armonty Bryant leads the team with 5.5 sacks, followed by Desmond Bryant with 4.5.
Big Play Gary: TE Gary Barnidge, who just signed a contract extension with the Browns returned immediate dividends with five receptions for 84 yards, including a touchdown. Barnidge leads the Browns with 65 receptions for 01 yards with eight touchdowns. WR Travis Benjamin had four receptions for 41 yards.
Costly Move: The Browns were backed up to their own 4-yard line and faced third-and-26 when QB Johnny Manziel appeared to be sacked for a safety, but LB Corey Lemonier grabbed Manziel’s face mask on the way down to negate the safety and give the Browns a first down.
Tough Start: RB Glenn Winston got his first carry with the Browns and fumbled after being stripped by DL Ian Williams and recovered by LB Ahmad Brooks. Winston was a captain for the Browns as he was with the 49ers in training camp 2014 before being released and claimed by the Browns. Winston left for concussion evaluation and did not return.
Tough Guy: WR Marlon Moore re-injured his ribs, but returned and finished with two receptions for 23 yards.
Nice Play: LB Christian Kirksey dropped former Browns RB Shaun Druaghn in the open field on a short pass on third down forcing a punt. Kirksey dropped Draughn in his tracks for a one-yard gain. Kirksey finished with three tackles including a sack.
Old Friend: Besides Dawson, former Browns RB Shaun Draughn starts for the 49ers and Eric Mangini is the defensive coordinator for San Francisco. Margini was head coach of the Browns from 2009-11. Draughn had 11 carries for 43 yards and caught two passes for eight yards.
Pryor Debut: Terrelle Pryor lined up at wide receiver with 10:48 to play in the first quarter after a 23 yard catch by TE Gary Barnidge moved the Browns to the 49ers 25. The Browns ran a running play to the right with Crowell, while Pryor ran a quick slant. Pryor lined up on several plays, but had no targets in the game. Pryor was re-signed to the Browns active roster on Dec. 2 when Josh McCown was placed on injured reserve. Pryor was inactive for last week’s against the Bengals.
In addition to Pryor being active, three wide receivers are inactive including Taylor Gabriel, Andrew Hawkins and Dwayne Bowe. Hawkins is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol, while Gabriel was cleared this week, but just practice two days. Bowe was a scratch for the eighth time this season.
Gaines Again: CB’s Joe Haden and Justin Gilbert remain in the concussion protocol and cornerback CB Pierre Desir was inactive, as well OL Gabe Ikard.
Captains: The Browns had three captains with ties to the 49ers. P Andy Lee punted three times for an average of 39.7, including a long of 51 yards. DB Donte Whitner had three tackles, including a sack and a pass broken up. RB Glenn Winston had one carry for an eight-yard loss and a lost fumble. On top of that, Winston left the game in the NFL concussion protocol. The fourth captain was OL Alex Mack, who went to Cal.
Rookie CB Charles Gaines started opposite CB Tramon Williams, while Austin Pasztor started at LGfor rookie Cameron Erving. Gaines had three tackles and a pass broken up.Quinn on Game: Former Browns QB Brady Quinn was the analyst on the television broadcast for Fox. Joe Davis was the play-by-play announcer, while Peter Schrager was the sideline reporter.