Case Keenum keeps Browns in playoff race

Case Keenum keeps Browns in playoff race

Keenum proved that Browns can win even without their stars

CLEVELAND – On the fourth down at Denver’s 10-yard line, Cleveland Browns quarterback Case Keenum found himself under pressure and without a target to pitch to.

So Keenum broke in the middle. And with a Denver linebacker on the way, Keenum finished on the left, dived down the right and hit a first-and-ten within a yard of the score. On the next play, he landed a play-action touchdown pass to help a 17-14 win over the Broncos on Thursday night.

Two off seasons ago, the Browns didn’t just sign Keenum to be Baker Mayfield’s mentor. He was brought in with the belief that he could play and keep Cleveland’s season going if necessary. With Mayfield out with a shoulder injury, Keenum was instrumental Thursday at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Operating efficiently with a short passing plan and plenty of cheating plays, Keenum snapped Browns’ two-game losing streak. He completed 21 of 33 passes for 199 yards and the score that happened after the play of the game – his fourth-down conversion.

“You don’t have to get ready if you stay ready to play,” Keenum noted in the week, “and I’ve been ready since I got here.”

Keenum will have to keep ready.

Cleveland’s quarterback’s situation was exacerbated by Mayfield’s broken shoulder. The player wants to return for the team’s next game on October 31 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But if Mayfield can’t, Keenum proved Thursday that the Browns have another quarterback who can pull off the results.

A performance to take into account: With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt injured in the calf, running back D’Ernest Johnson did very well in his first career start. Johnson rushed for 34 yards on the opening drive, including a 4-yard touchdown rush. Johnson finished with 146 yards, the first 100-yard game of his career. Chubb could be back as soon as October 31. But with Hunt expected to be out for several weeks, Johnson proved he can keep up with Cleveland’s powerful running game.

Worrying trend: The Browns defense dominated much of the game, holding Denver to 76 total yards in the first half. But in the second half, Cleveland’s defense had multiple opportunities to contain Denver’s lackluster offense. Instead, the Broncos were able to score in the fourth quarter to keep the game interesting. The Browns still have the talent to field a top-tier defense. But mid-season, they still have to improve.

The game in two words: Correct. It wasn’t the prettiest performance, but the Browns desperately needed this win to keep their lofty preseason aspirations intact.

What's Your Reaction?

hate hate
confused confused
fail fail
fun fun
geeky geeky
love love
lol lol
omg omg
win win