In a battle of mostly rookies it was Nick Chubb who seemed to be the ringer.
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The Denver Broncos could not get anything going on their first two drives, but:
Baker Mayfield's first pass goes for 19 yards to Jarvis Landry for a 1st down. Nick Chubb is good for a run of two on the following play. On 2nd and 8 Bradley Roby knocks the ball down. On 3rd down, Mayfield hits Breshad Perriman (covered by Tremaine Brock) for a 31-Yard TD.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) December 16, 2018
Mayfield would only have one more complete pass until deep into the second quarter.
With 1:41 left in the 2nd quarter Baker Mayfield was only 4 of 14 for 81 yards, but one of those four completions was the touchdown. Denver and Cleveland exchanged possession three times with less than two minutes remaining in the first half and that is kind of how the first half went.
Case Keenum threw his first interception in over 200 passes, but Mayfield was picked off too. Mayfield had an end zone pass intercepted by Dymonte Thomas who was playing ahead of Su’a Cravens in recognition of Thomas’s superior play. Cravens and Shane Ray were both inactive in favor of Thomas (whom head coach Vance Joseph said has been outperforming Cravens) and Jeff Holland.
Joseph called this a ‘Must win game’ according to KMGH’s Troy Renck whom pointed out that Thomas had moved ahead of Cravens on the depth chart.
What was the first half like?— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) December 16, 2018
Well, here, Duncan wants to tell #BroncosCountry https://t.co/lF8jg4GjbR
Mayfield orchestrated a 15 play drive which lasted 9:01, but then...
Baker Mayfield fumbles!— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) December 16, 2018
On 2nd & 6, the 15th play of a 9:01 drive that started at the top of the 3rd quarter, Adam Gotsis broke through Joel Bitonio to hit Mayfield as he threw. Derek Wolfe jumped on the fumble! @Derek_Wolfe95 fumble recovery and a @gotsis96 forced fumble!
Denver’s first possession of the second half began with 5:59 in the 3rd quarter and a 13-10 lead.
After a Confederacy of Onces, which saw Bradley Roby leave due to injury and new corner Jamar Taylor ejected, the Broncos struggled to field a secondary let-alone defend a Mayfield aerial assault. But, Von Miller was right on time and he was wearing his cape.
Von Miller playing superhero takes over the game! With the Denver Broncos down three cornerbacks for various reasons, Derek Wolfe and Von Miller collapse the pocket on 3rd & 14 and end the @Browns drive at Cleveland's [email protected] [email protected] 13— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) December 16, 2018
The sack was a big deal.
A message from #BroncosROF linebacker Simon Fletcher, who @VonMiller just passed for the most sacks in franchise history:#WPMOYChallenge + Miller pic.twitter.com/MeahOSLAyS— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 16, 2018
This was Nick Chubb’s game though and it wasn’t until 9:10 in the 4th quarter that Broncos fans got to see much of Chubb or their own Phillip Lindsay. Lindsay finally took a pass for 16 yards with 9:10 left in the game.
The major knock against Vance Joseph this season has been his decisions, and here is a major example of a decision which cost him a victory.
Vance Joseph elects for a field goal on 4th & 1 from the Browns seven yard line. Denver takes a delay of game penalty for a 29-yard attempt and @thekidmcmanus is three-for-three tonight. @Browns [email protected] 16— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) December 16, 2018
Cleveland’s Nick Chubb hit a 40-yard run immediately on the next play. He would finish the day with 100 yards on 20 carries. Chubb pushed the Browns immediately into field goal range. With the lead to protect, Cleveland called Chubb’s number on the next five plays to varying degrees of success before the game hit the two-minute warning.
Out of the two-minute warning on 3rd & 6 Mayfield hit tight end David Njoku for five yards and a review upholding the call. Denver was forced to use their third timeout with 1:53 left in the game. On 4th and 1, Domata Peko jumped offsides, but Browns coach Gregg Williams ran on the field to call a timeout. After the timeout, Chubb ran the ball, but was gobbled up behind the line of scrimmage by Adam Gotsis for a loss of two yards.
Denver’s ball and Keenum was driving.
Keenum hit tight end Matt LaCosse for 14 yards, DaeSean Hamilton for positive 8 and then missed him deep.
On 3rd & 2 Keenum hit Hamilton for no gain, but on 4th & 2 Keenum hit Devontae Booker for 15 yards. He spiked the ball on 1st & 10 and that was the closest he would get to scoring. The drive died on 4th & 10.
4th & 10 Keenum is sacked by Jabrill Peppers.— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) December 16, 2018
Lindsay entered this game with 970 yards, needing only 30 more to hit that allusive 1,000 yard mark. He would end the game with only 24 yards rushing.
The Broncos find themselves with the tiniest of playoff eligibility, but really no real chance. We’ll see some of them in 2019.