Tue. Aug 20th, 2019

Browns Saddle the Broncos

The Steelers have beaten us a lot. By a lot, I mean more times than I care to remember and while I’m sick of falling prey to the yellow and black (that’s right Steelers fans, that’s yellow, not gold), one team that has severely dominated us over the past 30 years has been the Denver Broncos. After dropping 11 in a row to this AFC rival, plus the infamous Ernest Byner fumble happening against them, I finally wanted to see a victory against the blue and orange for once. Helloooo, December 15.

Let’s drop the formalities and get to it.  This was an ugly win.  It was a win and we will take it, but wow was it a bumpy ride tonight.  Baker had two balls batted down at the line of scrimmage and one very inaccurate evening, going 18 for 31 with one interception. After that opening drive, Baker fell victim to the effects of playing 5,280 feet above sea level…or maybe it’s because, believe it or not, he’s still a rookie.  Meanwhile, Nick Chubb finished with an even 100 yards, but I have no idea how he got it.  I watched the game and somewhere in his 20 attempts, he racked up triple digits, though it certainly didn’t feel like we could run the ball tonight.  

The engine that drove the majority of the victory machine this week was the defense. Denver could not run the ball to save their life and I loved every minute of it. When your defense allows 1.6 yards per carry, that is a rock star performance, which is exactly the minuscule amount the Browns gave up tonight. Ironically enough, Denver’s only touchdown of the game was on the ground. Plus, the Broncos couldn’t stop committing penalties, which helped our cause greatly. So be it. Like the win itself, I’ll take it.  

While the game’s outcome has been signed, sealed and delivered, the weekly contest-ending theatrics continue. If there were ever a sequel to the Kardiac Kids, this is it. On 4th and 1, late in the game with the Browns up 17-16, Gregg Williams calls a timeout as Denver leaps offsides. The penalty, of course, is a no-call since play is now dead. Had Williams let things go, it’s 1st and goal and the Brownies just down the ball repeatedly until the clock runs out. Ah. That would be too easy. The ratings gods want the Browns to get stuffed. They did. They want Denver to march down the field. They did.  They want a Broncos pass play on 4th down for all the cards. They got it. Whether those same TV deities wanted Jabrill Peppers to blaze past the Broncos’ O-line to sack Case Keenum is unknown, but that’s what we got. Thank the stars that’s what we got.  

Now, I’ve never been in an NFL locker room, but if I were and game balls were handed out tonight, I would put my money on Peppers getting the first one from Coach Williams. The second-year safety played his heart out and had the best game of his career. I’m not going to sit here and debate stats. I’m saying his play tonight helped anchor the defense’s ability to put a padlock on any crucial Denver heroics. Peppers helped define the meaning of ‘shutdown’ tonight as did the rest of the Cleveland Defense. And as far as those stats go, yeah, Peppers’ two sacks and an interception look pretty damn impressive. 

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