The Browns lost their starting quarterback and one of their starting cornerbacks on Sunday. But Cleveland was still able to get a big victory over Indianapolis by putting together a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.
Indianapolis receiver Michael Pittman caught a ball down the middle and broke a pair of tackles to go 75 yards for a go-ahead score with 5:38 left.
But after the Browns and Colts traded punts, Cleveland had one last shot to get into the end zone and made it count.
After advancing to the red zone, it looked like Colts linebacker E.J. Speed had forced a game-winning fumble on quarterback P.J. Walker. But the Colts were called for illegal contact on receiver Amari Cooper, giving the Browns first-and-goal at the 8-yard line.
Then a defensive pass interference penalty gave the Browns the ball the ball on the 1-yard line.
With 19 seconds left on fourth-and-goal from the 1, Kareem Hunt bullied his way into the end zone for a touchdown.
Quarterback Gardner Minshew was nearly intercepted on the first play of the ensuing drive. But then fumbled for the third time when defensive end Za’Darius Smith sacked him and Ogbo Okoronkwo recovered the loose ball to effectively end the game.
Minshew’s first two fumbles were forced by defensive end Myles Garrett, who made several terrific plays in the game. Garrett strip-sacked Minshew late in the first quarter, which led to a Hunt 2-yard touchdown. Garrett then somehow leaped over the line to block a 60-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter, which led to a 44-yard field goal. Finally, Garrett strip-sacked Minshew in the end zone, which linebacker Tony Fields recovered for a touchdown.
Garrett ended the game with nine total tackles, 2.0 sacks, a tackle for loss, two forced fumbles, and a pass defensed from knocking a Minshew pass down at the line of scrimmage.
Minshew’s final line was 15-of-23 for 305 yards with two touchdowns, an interception, and three lost fumbles.
The Colts had the season’s best performance against Cleveland’s vaunted defense, recording 456 total yards, 20 first downs, and converting 7-of-15 third downs. But the team lost the turnover margin 4-2.
Walker was playing at the end of the contest because Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson exited the contest with 3:13 left in the first quarter and did not return. Head coach Kevin Stefanski told the CBS broadcast that the team was being extra cautious with Watson’s shoulder. Watson did not look good before he was pulled, completing 1-of-5 passes for 5 yards with an interception.
Walker finished 15-of-32 for 178 yards with an interception.
Browns kicker Dustin Hopkins set a league record by making a field goal of at least 50 yards in five consecutive games. He hit field goals from 44, 54, 54, and 58 yards on Sunday.
Browns cornerback Denzel Ward had to exit the game to be evaluated for a head injury and did not return. Running back Jerome Ford also was dealing with an ankle injury. Colts cornerback JuJu Brents also had to exit the game with a quad injury.
Now at 4-2, the Browns will head out west to play the Seahawks in Week 8.
The 3-4 Colts will host the Saints next weekend.