Browns hold off Colts for best start in 26 years
Baker Mayfield threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns Sunday and the Cleveland Browns’ defense hassled Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers into major mistakes during a 32-23 win at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
Mayfield was 21 of 37 with two interceptions as Cleveland (4-1) won its fourth straight game by complementing its league-best rushing attack with key passes, particularly when it scored on all four first-half possessions.
Meanwhile, Rivers completed 21 of 33 for 243 yards, but tossed two interceptions. One was a pick-six that Ronnie Harrison Jr. took 47 yards at the 12:15 mark of the third quarter for a 27-10 Cleveland lead.
Rivers was also pressured into an intentional grounding foul in the end zone 16 seconds into the fourth quarter, giving the Browns a safety and a nine-point lead. It forced the Colts into trying to make up a two-score difference for the game’s remainder.
Rookie kicker Rodrigo Blankenship converted a 25-yard field goal with 2:53 left to pull them within six points. But Cody Parkey iced the outcome by banking a 46-yard field goal, his third of the day, off the left upright with 21 seconds remaining.
Parkey initiated scoring with a 27-yard field goal about 4 1/2 minutes into the game, the first of four long scoring drives by Cleveland in the first half. After Jonathan Taylor’s 4-yard run gave Indianapolis (3-2) a 7-3 edge, Mayfield flipped a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kareem Hunt 54 seconds into the second quarter.
Blankenship’s 32-yard field goal evened the score at 10, but Mayfield answered with 5:58 left before halftime, finding Rashard Higgins for a 15-yard scoring strike. Parkey hit a 36-yard field goal 17 seconds before halftime for a 20-10 Browns lead.
After Harrison’s interception return, the Colts rallied to make it a game. Isaiah Rodgers lugged the ensuing kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown, and Blankenship made a 37-yard field goal with 4:02 left in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 27-20.
Hunt finished the day with 72 yards on 20 carries as the Browns were held to 124 rushing yards in their first full game without injured RB Nick Chubb.
Cleveland’s 4-1 start is its first such beginning since 1994, when Bill Belichick was its coach.
–Field Level Media