Colts vs. Browns final score: 3 things we learned from Indy’s comeback over Cleveland
The Colts were taken to the brink by the Browns, but Andrew Luck would not be denied.
The Cleveland Browns‘ defense and special teams were at their best Sunday, and they were nearly able to pull off an upset over the Indianapolis Colts. Cleveland’s offense couldn’t pull its weight, however, and the Colts were able to chip away a 21-7 deficit for a 25-24 win.
The Browns scored touchdowns on a sack fumble recovered in the end zone and an interception return. Those weren’t freak occurrences, however. Andrew Luck, the league’s leading passer, was held to just 294 yards on 24-for-53 passing. Cornerback Joe Haden did a tremendous job holding T.Y. Hilton to one catch in the first half.
The Colts threatened to flip momentum in the second half, pulling within two points, 21-19, after going down 21-7 midway through the third quarter. The Browns were able to dial up the pressure in the pass rush, however, and a Jim Leonhard interception gave the Browns a short field to boot a much-needed field goal in the fourth quarter.
Needing a touchdown, Luck woke up just in time. Pinned deep in their own territory with under four minutes to play, the Colts went 90 yards to threaten for the game-winning score. Luck led the Colts down to the Browns’ 2-yard line. He hit Hilton for the second time in the half to give the Colts’ their first and final lead of the game.
Three things we learned:
1) The Browns’ secondary is superb
Andrew Luck’s numbers: 24-for-53 passing, 294 yards and two touchdown to two interceptions. T.Y. Hilton was able to break out in the second half, but he was held to just one reception in the first half, and that’s a testament to Joe Haden. Rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert, meanwhile, had an interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Luck was the NFL’s fourth-highest rated passer entering the game while leading the league in passing yardage. No one should be that surprised that the Browns were this good, however. They were giving up a league-low average 74.1 opponent quarterback rating entering the weekend, and now have 19 interceptions on the season.
2) But you can can only keep Andrew Luck down for so long
Transpose the Colts’ performance in the second half to the first, and this game might be different. Luck and Hilton were finally able to get something going in the second half — Hilton had nine catches for 141 yards in the second half, including 42 yards on this bomb:
Luck was clinical on the Colts’ game-winning drive, completing two big third-down passes. When the Colts needed them most, Luck and Hilton hooked up one final time for a score.
3) The Browns can go to Johnny now
Brian Hoyer wasn’t any good — he went just 14-for-31 passing for 140 yards and and two interceptions. At this point, the Browns’ playoff hopes are all but gone — Football Outsiders gave them just a 10 percent chance before the loss — so there shouldn’t be any worry about ruining their mojo. The best thing that could be said for Hoyer was that he didn’t make many back-breaking mistakes, then he threw two picks. At this point, it might as well be Johnny Manziel time, for better or worse.