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Game Day

6 plays that changed the game in the Browns' win over the Colts

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Browns improved to 2-0 in the preseason Saturday with a 21-18 win over the Colts.

The victory required a few breaks to go their way and some late-game defensive plays to be made. As is often said in this sport, six or seven plays can often determine the outcome of the game.

Here are the six plays that did just that Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

1. Jamie Gillan's 74-yard punt

A punt? Yes, we're starting with a punt. The game's first four possessions ended in punts, but none was like the bomb that came off the foot of the Scottish Hammer.

Backed up by a holding penalty to inside his own 10, Gillan used his greatest skill in launching a punt that received a little help from a good bounce and was downed at the 10. The kick flipped the field for the Browns, where they were able to force the Colts to punt and reaped the reward of it on their ensuing possession, which lasted seven plays, covered 64 yards and led to the first points of the night for either side.

2. Jaelen Strong's touchdown reception

The aforementioned scoring drive culminated with one of Garrett Gilbert's best throws from a very successful night. On second-and-goal from the 4, Gilbert took the shotgun snap, rolled away from pressure to his right and kept his eyes in the end zone, where they eventually landed on Jaelen Strong.

Gilbert released on the run and connected with Strong in the back of the end zone for the night's first score, providing the Browns with some early momentum.

3. Jacoby Brissett's completion to Eric Ebron on fourth-and-3

The Colts frequently met the strength and force of the Browns' front four early in the game Saturday, especially on third down. The Browns twice recorded tackles for loss in third-and-short scenarios, and the second time around, head coach Frank Reich had enough and tested his team by going for it on fourth down.

With 3 yards to gain for a new set of downs, quarterback Jacoby Brissett found tight end Eric Ebron for a gain of 16 down to the Cleveland 26. A few plays later, Brissett found Ebron again, this time in the end zone for a touchdown and a response to the Browns' opening salvo.

4. Garrett Gilbert finds D.J. Montgomery for big gain to set up touchdown

D.J. Montgomery saw a healthy amount of reps Saturday and bolstered his growing reputation as a receiver who specializes in making difficult catches.

Montgomery was targeted by Gilbert four times in the first half and caught three of them for 77 yards. None was more important than the pass he hauled in to put the Browns on the doorstep of their second touchdown.

Montgomery took advantage of a one-on-one down the sideline, running toward the front pylon under a ball perfectly lofted by Gilbert before coming down with the catch at the Indianapolis 6 for a gain of 32. Montgomery's grab was just the latest contested catch made along the boundary in what has been a strong preseason for him, and it put the Browns in perfect position to score. They did just that a play later, when Gilbert connected with former Alliance of American Football teammate D'Ernest Johnson for a 6-yard touchdown.

5. Genard Avery's two touchdown-saving tackles late in first half

Holding a 14-7 lead with 2 minutes left in the first half, the Colts handed the ball off to Jonathan Williams on a third-and-1. He sifted his way through the line before finding a massive opening and taking his first steps toward what looked to be paydirt.

Genard Avery robbed him of a euphoric sprint to glory.

Reacting to Williams' path, Avery cut across and dove at Williams' legs just as he was shifting into a higher gear with nothing but green turf ahead. His dive tripped Williams and limited his gain to 14 yards instead of 83 and six points.

Avery wasn't done there, though. On third-and-20 from Cleveland's 38, Indianapolis ran a wide receiver screen to Deon Cain, who had an alley to run through and was building up speed to break off for a touchdown. Avery again tracked the ballcarrier down, though, limiting him to a gain of 5 and forcing the Colts to settle for a field goal attempt, which kicker Cole Hedlund missed.

6. Willie Harvey's fourth-down pass breakup

With 40 seconds to play in the game and the Browns clinging to a three-point lead, Chad Kelly faced a fourth-and-1 from the Browns' 11. Lined up in the shotgun, Kelly attempted to connect with a target in the flats. Harvey was there to break up the attempt, forcing a turnover on downs and securing the Browns' second victory.