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Browns’ McCown keeps Manziel on bench with big comeback

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The Sports Xchange

BEREA, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns are hopeful their dramatic overtime victory in Baltimore on Sunday will be the springboard to success for the rest of the season.

Rookie Travis Coons kicked a game-winning 32-yard field goal to beat the Ravens, 33-30, in overtime after Ravens kicker Justin Tucker made a field goal with 25 seconds left in regulation to tie the game, 30-30.

Quarterback Josh McCown set a franchise record with 457 passing yards and the maligned defense, ranked last in the league at the start of action Sunday, made two critical stops when it had to. The Browns held the Ravens to a field goal at the end of regulation after Baltimore had first-and-goal at the 10 and they forced a three-and-out after the Ravens won the toss to start overtime.

“It’s a great feeling for our organization, you know, for the team and everyone included,” coach Mike Pettine said on Monday. “To get the victory, you can just sense it in the building today.

“We constantly talk about how important it is playing inside the division and to get a win on the road in overtime was huge. So we have to be able to build on it. We’re not going to get too high from it. Again as I say after losses, you have to compartmentalize but we certainly that this is a team-building win and some real positive momentum for us.”

The Browns’ next game is at home next Sunday against the 5-0 Denver Broncos. The Browns are 2-3 and three games behind the unbeaten Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North. Now, instead of wondering whether they might be better off with Johnny Manziel at quarterback, the players can rally around McCown.

The victory over the Ravens was McCown’s first with the Browns in four starts. He was 1-10 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year. A reporter asked McCown whether playing as he did against the Ravens was especially satisfying because, “Everybody kind of wrote you off after what happened in Tampa Bay last year (1-10).” McCown was quick to disagree with that assessment.

“The key word you just said was ‘Everybody’ wrote me off,” he said. “I didn’t write me off and obviously some folks in Cleveland with the team didn’t write me off. I’m thankful my wife and kids didn’t write me off.

“Sometimes (games) mean more than one win in the win column. It’s a special feeling in the locker room and I’m thankful to be a part of it.”

McCown has completed 101 of 149 passes for 1,203 yards with six touchdown passes and only one interception on the season. He has a passer rating of 102.8.

INJURY NOTES: CB Joe Haden (concussion) was knocked out of the game in the third quarter and did not return. He is in the concussion protocol and his return is uncertain. Pettine said it is unlikely Haden will play against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. … LB Scott Solomon (knee) could miss extended time after being injured against the Ravens in the first half, Pettine said. Solomon missed the previous three games with an ankle injury. … McCown (ankle) was injured in the game-winning drive in overtime and continued to play. He might miss practice Wednesday but is expected to play against the Broncos.

REPORT CARD VS. RAVENS

–PASSING OFFENSE: A. Josh McCown is becoming a clutch quarterback in the fourth quarter. For the second straight week he led the Browns to a touchdown and two-point conversion in the final minutes. He passed for a franchise-record 457 yards and spread his 36 completions to nine different receivers. Six had receptions of at least 20 yards.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus. The success Duke Johnson (six catches) and Isaiah Crowell (two catches) had running after the catch is part of the successful run offense. The Browns averaged only 3.3 yards on 25 carries, but they knew going in they would have trouble running between the tackles. They ran the ball seven times in the drive that set up the game-winning field goal in overtime. A three-yard run by Johnson on 3rd-and-1 to the Ravens’ 25 was a key play in the drive.

–PASS DEFENSE: B-minus. The Ravens were without injured wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. and tight end Crockett Gillmore, but still dangerous. The Browns held Joe Flacco to 210 yards passing and one touchdown despite sacking him only one time. A lack of pressure on the quarterback is a factor in the Browns having no interceptions in their past four games.

–RUN DEFENSE: D – The Browns gave up 181 yards on 31 carries – a 5.8-yard average. Ravens running back Justin Forsett gained 121 yards on 21 carries. Fortunately for the Browns, Forsett suffered an ankle injury late in regulation and could not continue. Had he not been injured the Browns easily might have lost in regulation. One of Forsett’s runs was for 22 yards and one of running back Javorius Allen’s carries gained 44 yards. The Browns continually give up one or two big runs per game.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: C-plus – Kicker Travis Coons was 4-for-4 on field goals and passed the test when asked to kick a game-winner for the first time in his short career. Coons was the highlight for the Browns. The Ravens neutralized Travis Benjamin as a punt returner, holding him to two yards on two returns. Four Ravens punts went out of bounds.

–Coaching: B – Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo on Wednesday told Josh McCown to expect to throw 50 passes because the Browns had so much respect for the Ravens run defense. That success is offset by the continued struggles of the defense. Heat would have been turned up on defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil had the Browns lost. O’Neil has to find a way to improve the run defense.


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