D'Ernest Johnson rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown and Case Keenum threw for 199 yards and a score as the depleted Cleveland Browns managed a 17-14 victory over the Denver Broncos on Thursday night.
Johnson accounted for 34 yards on the opening drive of the game for the Browns with runs of 20 and 10 yards before a 4-yard touchdown run got the Browns out to a quick 7-0 lead.
Chase McLaughlin would add a 52-yard field goal on Cleveland’s second drive to give Cleveland a 10-0 advantage that would carry into halftime.
Teddy Bridgewater was limited due to a foot injury and seemed to struggle to step hard into his throws throughout the night. He underthrew a pass for John Brown in the end zone that was picked off by John Johnson III on the Broncos ensuing possession.
On the first possession of the third quarter, Bridgewater and the Broncos finally put together a scoring drive. A 13-play, 79-yard drive ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Bridgewater to Melvin Gordon to cut the lead to 10-7. The Browns answered right back with a 13-play scoring drive of their own. Keenum hit fullback Johnny Stanton for a 1-yard touchdown to extend the lead back to 10.
Denver would again cut the deficit to three with 5:17 remaining as Bridgewater hit Javonte Williams on a screen pass that went for a 10-yard touchdown to make it a 17-14 game.
However, the Browns never gave the Broncos a chance to go for the tying score. Cleveland didn’t even face a third down on their final drive until just over a minute remained on the clock. Johnson picked up the first on third-and-2 only to have an illegal motion penalty make it a third-and-7. It still didn’t matter as Johnson picked up the first down for a second time and enabled the Browns to run out the clock for the victory.
Bridgewater finished with 187 yards passing with two touchdowns and an interception for Denver.