In thrilling back-and-forth bout, P.J. Walker led the Cleveland Browns to a game-winning drive over the Indianapolis Colts, 39-38, to win their second game in a row.
The game-winning drive didn’t come without some controversy, though.
After the Browns forced a three-and-out on the Colts, they had just over two minutes left to play to drive downfield for the win. On 3rd-and-10, quarterback Walker, who had taken over for Deshaun Watson after he got injured in the first half, took a big hit but delivered a perfect pass to Elijah Moore for 30 yards to get to midfield.
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The Browns continued to push downfield, but they found themselves with a 3rd-and-4 on Indianapolis’s 13-yard line. Walker was strip-sacked by E.J. Speed and the Colts recovered the ball. However, a flag was thrown for illegal contact by Darrell Baker Jr., which bailed Cleveland out.
Now, the team was 1st-and-goal from the 8-yard line when another flag was thrown. This time it was defensive pass interference on Baker. But the Colts were livid with the call because Walker had thrown the ball way over Donovan Peoples-Jones’ head, and they believed the uncatchable ball should negate the call.
Instead, the referees said otherwise, and the Browns had a golden opportunity with 33 seconds left and the ball on the 1-yard line. But the Colts dug deep and forced three straight incompletions from Walker, making it 4th-and-goal on the 1-yard line for the game.
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Instead of going with another pass, the Browns decided to give running back Kareem Hunt the ball, and he just got across the goal line despite a tough Colts front to get the game-winning touchdown.
The Colts’ home crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium couldn’t believe the ending, especially after such a great game from their offense against the best defense stat-wise in the league entering Sunday.
Gardner Minshew, who will lead the Colts with Anthony Richardson out for the remainder of the 2023 season due to a shoulder injury, was electric with 305 passing yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for two scores in this one.
Colts fans also saw rookie receiver Josh Downs catch five balls for 125 yards and a touchdown, which came on a 59-yard broken play in which the Browns were offsides and Minshew took a shot downfield.
But the Browns came up with some big plays from their rushing attack once Watson went down, with Jerome Ford (who left the game with an ankle injury) scoring once with 74 yards rushing and Hunt finishing with 31 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Cleveland also got some huge stops on defense and special teams, which can largely be attributed to All-Pro edge rusher Myles Garrett. He blocked a 60-yard field goal attempt by Matt Gay by completely hurdling the man in front of him and stood right in front of Gay to block it. The Browns would kick a field goal later to go up 17-14.
Then, with the Colts deep in their own zone, Garrett beat two blocks to get to Minshew, forcing a strip sack in the end zone and the Browns pounced on it. The touchdown made it 24-21, and it’s safe to say that without Garrett, Cleveland doesn’t walk away with a win. He finished with nine tackles and two sacks.
The Browns continue to ride high after their win over the then-undefeated San Francisco 49ers last week. They’ll look to push their win streak to three games next Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.
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Meanwhile, the Colts are to host the New Orleans Saints as they come off a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday.