Browns at Broncos -- Dec. 23 -- 4:05 p.m. ET
Earlier in the 2012 regular season, the Cleveland Browns will have played quarterback Peyton Manning’s replacement in Indianapolis, Andrew Luck. In December, the Browns will have their chance to play Manning and his new team, the Denver Broncos.
After being released from his contract with the Colts, Manning made several free agent visits with other teams before settling in with the Broncos.
In addition to facing Manning, the Browns will be on the road for the final two games of the regular season, beginning with the Dec. 23 game against the Broncos inside Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
It is the first time since 2004 that the Browns will end the regular season with at least two road games. The Browns split the 2004 games. After losing in Miami, they responded with a win over the Houston Texans in Reliant Stadium.
The Browns ended the regular season with at least two road games 31 times in their history, starting with the first four years of the franchise from 1946-49. In 1948, the Browns defeated the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dons, San Francisco 49ers and Brooklyn Dodgers in four straight road games to end the season.
The team is 39-28-2 in consecutive road games at the end of the regular season.
The Browns and Broncos last played on Sept. 20, 2009, in Denver. With a 14-point fourth quarter, the Broncos sealed a 27-6 home win over the Browns.
Then-Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton completed 19 of 37 attempts for 263 yards with one touchdown and an 83.5 quarterback rating. Running back Correll Buckhalter ran for 76 yards and one touchdown on just nine carries. In addition to Buckhalter’s 8.4 yards-per-carry average, the Broncos got a lift in the running game from Knowshon Moreno, who gained 75 yards on 17 rushes.
Former Browns quarterback Brady Quinn completed 18 of 31 attempts for 161 yards with no touchdowns, one interception and was sacked four times for 15 lost yards. Running back Jamal Lewis gained just 38 yards on 14 carries.
The Browns were just three of 14 on third down attempts and had only 11 first downs in the game, despite recovering an early fumble by Peyton Hillis on a kickoff return. The Broncos went eight of 15 on third down and won the time of possession battle (32:44 to 27:16).
The Broncos finished 2011 with an 8-8 record and won the AFC West Division despite being outgained and outmatched in many team statistical categories.
The Broncos surrendered more first downs (315), third down conversions (73 of 218), total offensive yards (5,725) and passing yards (3,704) than they gained during the 2011 regular season. They also lost time of possession (32:04 to 29:42) and were minus-12 in the turnover ratio.
Former Broncos and current New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow completed 136 of 271 attempts (46.5 percent) for 1,729 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions, but led the team to six straight wins. The streak started with a 38-24 win at Oakland on Nov. 6 and concluded with a 13-10 win over the Chicago Bears on Dec. 11.
Tebow and veteran rusher Willis McGahee led the Broncos’ strong running game in 2011. McGahee gained 1,199 yards and scored four touchdowns on 249 attempts. Tebow gained 660 yards and scored a team-best six touchdowns on 122 carries.
Wide receiver Eric Decker led the Broncos with 44 catches for 612 yards and eight touchdowns. Demaryius Thomas led the team with a 17.2 yards-per-reception average. Thomas caught 32 passes for 551 yards and four touchdowns on the season.
Rookie outside linebacker Von Miller proved to be a difference maker in the pass rush with 11.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Miller registered 64 tackles, the fifth-most on the team last year. In addition to Miller, defensive end Elvis Dumervil registered 9.5 quarterback sacks.
Seven different Broncos collected interceptions and although no one had more than two on the year, Andre’ Goodman, Cassius Vaughn and Mario Haggan each returned a turnover for touchdowns.
Browns tight end
Browns offensive assistant Chris Beake is a graduate of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. He was a graduate assistant for the Air Force Academy in 1994. Beake is the son of longtime Broncos general manager, John Beake, who held the job from 1984-98.
Ray Rhodes, the senior assistant to the defense, was the Broncos’ defensive coordinator from 2001-02.
Browns defensive backs coach Tim Hauck played for the Broncos from 1995-96.
Broncos defensive backs Mike Adams (2007-11) and Ramzee Robinson (2009) and running back Xavier Omon (2011 practice squad) played for the Browns.
Defensive back David Bruton went to Miamisburg High School, while wide receiver Eric Page (Toledo/Springfield) and defensive lineman Derek Wolfe (Lisbon/Beaver Local) are Ohio natives.
Wolfe (University of Cincinnati) and Page (University of Toledo) went to college in Ohio.
Broncos defensive quality control coach Cory Undlin was a Browns assistant from 2005-08. In 2005-06, Undlin was a defensive quality control coach. In 2007, he served as a secondary and assistant special teams coach. He was the Browns’ defensive backs coach in 2008.
The Browns are 5-18-0 all-time against the Broncos dating back to the first meeting between the teams, a 27-13 Cleveland road win on Dec. 20, 1970. The Browns are 3-9-0 all-time in road games against the Broncos.
The Browns last won in Denver on Oct. 8, 1990, when they earned a 30-29 victory over the Broncos.
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