The Browns are still alive for the playoffs after holding off the Broncos and it may have cost Vance Joseph his job.
The Cleveland Browns have won four of their last five games to improve to 6-7-1 to keep their postseason hopes alive after a 17-16 win over the Denver Broncos. Denver had a chance to keep theirs alive facing a 4th-and-1 from the Cleveland 6 with 5:29 left and trailing by four but Vance Joseph went for the field goal.
That decision could end up more than costing him a game, it could cost Joseph his job as the Broncos fall to 6-8. It’s also the first time since 1990 the Broncos lost to the Browns.
Meanwhile, Browns interim head coach Gregg Williams was aggressive, going for it on 4th-and-1 on the Denver 10 on the ensuing possession. Rather than kick the field goal to go up four, Williams called a timeout before an encroachment penalty could have been called on the Broncos after a hard count from Baker Mayfield drew the defense offsides. Seconds later, Nick Chubb who had a 40-yard run on that drive, was stuffed for a two-yard loss.
Suddenly, Joseph looked like he might have a reprieve, but the Browns defense stopped them at midfield with a Jabrill Peppers sack on fourth down. Peppers had his best game as a pro with the sack, tied for a team-high six solo tackles and had an interception in the end zone.
The young Browns are confident and are still alive for the playoffs with two games to play.
To win the AFC North, the Browns need to win out (vs. Bengals, at Ravens) and need the Steelers to lose their last three games, and need the Ravens to lose at least two of their final three games, including the Week 17 game vs. the Browns.
Things are a little more complicated if they need to go the Wild Card route. They’ll need the Steelers to lose out and then have the Dolphins, Colts and Titans all lose two of their last three games. And whoever wins the Week 17 game between the Colts and Titans must have lost their previous two games.
Got it? This graphic from the NFL will make things easier to visualize.
Mayfield threw for 188 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He was on fire on the opening possession but was wild and held in check for much of the game after, finishing 18-of-31 passing.
Chubb had 100 yards on 20 carries. Antonio Callaway and Breshad Perriman each had a touchdown reception. Jarvis Landry had a team-high 37 yards on three catches.
Von Miller broke the Broncos franchise record for sacks that represented the biggest positive takeaway from the game. Joseph’s future with the Broncos could be fleeting after John Elway gave him a reprieve after his first season in Denver last year after making mind-numbing decisions like the one that cost the Broncos tonight.