Welcome to the review of the best game of Week 5 — not score-wise, but because it showed the league who is legitimate and who is not.
The final score (32-23) might not indicate such, but the Cleveland Browns are legitimate contenders in the AFC, as they played the second-best team on their schedule so far, and came out with a win.
Browns fans everywhere should be very very excited for this team and its future.
The game started off slow, which is to be expected when playing against the No. 1 defense in the entire league.
Cleveland marched down the field on the first offensive possession with a few good runs by Kareem Hunt and a great 32-yard pass to Jarvis Landry, who was injured on the reception; luckily for Landry and Browns fans, it wasn’t serious and he continued to play. The Browns ended up stalling in the red zone and had to settle for a field goal.
Oh wait… just kidding.
The first touchdown of the game was surrendered on the ground to Taylor, and would you look at that… it didn’t help my fantasy team this week, but that’s not why we’re here.
Wyatt Teller left the game in the first quarter with an injury and did not return, which is a major concern especially after his astounding performance last week. The final play of the first quarter was a great 4th-and-1 call from inside the 10 that kept the Browns’ drive alive.
The second quarter started with the Browns on the Colts’ two-yard line, and the drive finished with an incredible touchdown pass to Kareem Hunt that gave Cleveland the 10-7 lead.
This would mark the final lead change throughout the entire game.
After a holding penalty that helped the Colts’ drive, Phillip Rivers spread the football around to multiple receivers, including a 35-yard pass up the seam to Ashton Dulin, exposing an already-weak secondary missing Karl Joseph at free safety. Thankfully, the Browns defensive line made some moves and held the Colts to a field goal to tie the game at 10.
Then, the play-action pass came alive with an insane 26-yard reception by Odell Beckham, Jr. that was challenged by Colts head coach Frank Reich, but to no avail. Reich had challenged a previous play earlier in the game and lost that challenge as well, so don’t trust him for any sort of betting advice if you ever meet him.
The Browns defense then forced a three-and-out to quick return the ball to their offense. Unlike last week’s game, the Browns continued to pass the ball and gave Mayfield some confidence within the pocket, which is always good to see.
Once the two-minute warning was over, in keeping consistency with the trickery of October and the month of Halloween, the Browns called another trick play, this time with OBJ throwing an 18-yard pass to Austin Hooper. After the gamesmanship, Mayfield misfired and almost threw an interception to Xavier Rhodes, but were spared and settled for a field goal to go into halftime with a 20-10 lead.
The Cleveland pass defense started off a little rocky to begin the second half, but that doesn’t matter if you get a turnover!
Ronnie Harrison, who was traded to the Browns for a fifth-round draft pick, intercepted Philip Rivers on an out-route and ran it back to the house for his first pick-six of the year!
But, the Colts answered back immediately with a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Isaiah Rodgers, so… great job, special teams.
The Browns started on offense by running the football, which is smart at this point in the game with a two-score lead. What is not smart is Baker Mayfield out of the shotgun, throwing an interception to Bobby Okereke, for Mayfield’s first turnover in two weeks. After the interception, the Colts offense tried establishing the run, but the Browns’ defensive line and linebackers played very well in getting to the ball-carrier, especially without Larry Ogunjobi.
Despite the Colts’ running backs grinding out chunk yardage, the Browns defensive line luckily caused pressure on Rivers, forcing a missed throw to holding Indianapolis to a field goal attempt. The ensuing drive by Cleveland was mainly a disappointment, as the Colts defense stepped up; two drops by Jarvis Landry and OBJ also didn’t help.
After a punt to the Colts two-yard line, Cleveland’s Myles Garrett made the second-best defensive play of the game by causing a safety. Rivers was forced to throw the ball away, but was called for intentional grounding, with the safety credited to Garrett.
The Browns spent the majority of the quarter trying to grind the clock out, but on a 3rd-and-7, Landry dropped another pass like he had butter on his hands. This was rare to see, as Landry is known for having great hands, but I’m sure he’s more upset about it than anyone else.
The Browns defense, again, came to play this drive, forcing Rivers to throw his second interception of the day on an insanely acrobatic play by Sheldrick Redwine, a second-year player for Cleveland who never saw the field until this year.
At this point, the Browns offense tried to run the clock out with the Colts becoming more aggressive in trying to expose Cleveland’s weak secondary. However, Baker Mayfield was pressured into his second interception, this time to Anthony Walker. The Colts offense marched down the field, but got bogged down again in the red zone and had to settle for a field goal to keep the game close.
Unfortunately for the Colts, the Browns successfully managed the clock, scoring one more field goal to seal the Cleveland victory.
This Cleveland Browns team looks very impressive. Going against the best defense in the league and beating them, has officially made Cleveland contenders in the AFC.
No team should sleep on the Browns moving forward — and if they do, they’re in for a rude awakening.
(Featured Image Credit: ClevelandBrowns.com)