The Browns might’ve found their rushing game—but not in the tradional way.
Despite dropping their 12th game of the season—17-13 to the Kansas City Chiefs— the Browns had their best rushing output of the season.
After wallowing near the bottom of the NFL for most of the season rushing the ball, the Browns put up 232 yards against one of the top defenses against the run in the NFL. It was the third-most yards the Browns have rushed for since 1999.
The Browns were tied for 29th in the NFL in rushing offense coming into the game, averaging just 86.5 yards a game.
The Browns unleashed Johnny Manziel in the second half—at least on the ground.
Manziel was the leading rusher for the Browns with 108 yards, including 84 in the second half. Isaiah Crowell added 88 yards on 16 carries, including a touchdown. It was only the second 100-yard rusher the Browns have had this season. Crowell had 145 yards against the 49ers on Dec. 13.
Two plays before halftime, Manziel took off for a 22-yard run and it appeared the Browns decided to incorporate Manziel’s legs in the second half.
Manziel ignited the Browns offense to start the third quarter with a 34-yard run around left end. He later had a nine-yard run on the drive. When Manziel ran the ball, the rushing game opened up as Duke Johnson had a nine-yard run and Crowell added an 11-yard run for a touchdown.
After stopping the Chiefs on the next possession, Manziel and the Browns had a 20-play drive that resulted in a field goal, primarily due to an intentional grounding penalty called on Manziel from the eight-yard line that forced the Browns back to third-and-goal from the 18.
Trailing 17-13 after turning the ball over on downs, the Browns defense stopped the Chiefs and gave the offense one last chance.
Starting at their own 30 with 1:52 to play, Manziel hit Darius Jennings for 15 yards. After an incomplete pass, Manziel took off for 12 yards to the Chiefs’ 44. On third-and-10, Manziel hit Gary Barnidge for 12 yards to the 32.
With no timeouts, Manziel had three incomplete passes from the 32. On fourth-and-10 with 15 seconds to play, Manziel hit Jennings for 14 yards and a first down, but Jennings was not able to get out of bounds and the Browns hope for an upset ended at the Chiefs’ 18.
Manziel finished 13-of-32 for 136 yards passing with no touchdowns and an interception after starting just 6-of-12 for 54 yards in the first half. He wasn’t sacked. Overall, Manziel accounted for 244 yards, offensively.
Manziel’s only turnover came when he threw an interception to Marcus Peters two plays after rookie Nate Orchard intercepted a pass from Alex Smith.
No Harming Draft Status: The Browns are still tied with the Titans for the worst record in the NFL with three wins. The Titans lost to the Texans and finish their season against the Colts in Indianapolis. The Browns host the Steelers to finish the 2015 season.
Big Play Gary: TE Gary Barnidge had three receptions for 47 yards, including a 24-yard play. WR Darius Jennings, just signed from the practice squad caught three passes for 37 yards, including a 14-yard pass on the game’s final play. WR Travis Benjamin was held to just two receptions for 20 yards. TE Jim Dray caught one pass for 18 yards. RB Duke Johnson caught three passes for 15 yards.
Nate’s First: LB Nate Orchard intercepted a pass from QB Alex Smith and returned it to Chiefs territory. However, Manziel was intercepted just two plays later. In the third quarter, Orchard picked up his third sack as he brought QB Alex Smith to the ground on a third down play. It was the only sack of the game for the Browns. DB Donte Whitner had six tackles and DB Charles Gaines had four.
Good Hands Mitch: OL Mitchell Schwartz caught a pass that Manziel threw to him and then took a knee. Manziel was called for intentional grounding on the play.
Swing and a Miss: LB Barkevious Mingo had a clean shot at QB Alex Smith and hit him, but bounced off and Smith scrambled for 29 yards.
Trickery: The Browns converted a fake punt for a first down deep in their own territory as DB Jordan Poyer rushed for 10 yards after a direct snap on fourth down.
Bad Start: Far too often this season, the Browns have found themselves down before they even touched the ball. The Browns won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half. Kansas City took the opening kickoff and drove the length of the field for a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead to start the game with 7:52 left in the first quarter when QB Alex Smith hit WR Jeremy Maclin for an 11-yard score. After Browns quick three-and-out, Chiefs added a 40-yard field goal to take 10-0 lead with 2:19 left in first quarter.
Block Kicks: The Browns K Travis Coons had his fourth field goal of the season blocked. He made two field goals, including a 45-yard attempt and has not missed a field goal that he has kicked that wasn’t blocked.
No Respect: The Chiefs were on fourth and four from the Browns’ 32 and went for the first down, converting as QB Alex Smith ran for 9 yards.
Captain Bowe: Seldom used WR Dwayne Bowe was a captain against his former team. Bowe was a first-round draft pick for the Chiefs in 2007 and holds several franchise records at wide receiver. Bowe was in early in the game and had a ball thrown is direction but it bounced to him. Bowe was in on the final drive and had a ball thrown his way, but did not get a reception.
Pryor, Gilbert Inactive: WR Terrelle Pryor, DB Justin Gilbert, RB Daryl Richardson, RB Glenn Winston, LB Jayson DiManche, WR Rannell Hall and LB Armonty Bryant were inactive. Bryant was stopped with practice squad DB De’Ante Saunders and left home after the incident.