DENVER — The Browns started hot and finished hot Saturday, and that’s all they needed to take down the Broncos at Mile High.
The Browns kept their playoff hopes alive with a hard-fought, 17-16 victory over the Broncos. The win was Cleveland’s second straight and fourth in its last five.
The Browns moved to 6-7-1 while the Broncos fell to 6-8 and effectively saw their playoff hopes dashed.
Baker Mayfield overcame a rocky first half to give the Browns offense just enough against a stout Denver defense. He finished 18-of-31 for 188 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Cleveland, trailing 13-10 at the time, took the lead back for good early in the fourth quarter. A T.J. Carrie interception sparked the Browns to their first touchdown since early in the first quarter, as Mayfield finished off the 48-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway.
The Broncos tightened the score with a short field goal with 4:35 to play. They got the ball back after stuffing the Browns on fourth down with less than 2 minutes and no timeouts, needing just the field goal to win. The Browns defense sealed it when Jabrill Peppers sacked Case Keenum on a fourth-and-10 at midfield.
The Broncos broke a 10-10 tie with 1:41 to play in the third quarter on a 42-yard Brandon McManus field goal. It came shortly after a 9-minute Browns possession to open the half came to an abrupt halt when Mayfield was strip-sacked by Adam Gotsis.
Cleveland came out hot and promptly took a 7-0 lead, as Mayfield and the Browns offense took advantage of a short field created by a dominant start of the game by the defense. On a third-and-9, Mayfield found Breshad Perriman in the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown — Perriman’s first in more than two years.
Denver responded with a lengthy scoring drive of its own to even the score with 3:18 in the first quarter. Case Keenum capped the 13-play drive with a 1-yard scramble on third-and-goal.
With a chance to take a lead into the half, Mayfield threw a costly interception to end a Cleveland scoring threat. Looking deep down the middle for Jarvis Landry, Mayfield sailed his throw into the arms of Dymonte Thomas.
Player of the Game: Peppers made the defense's two biggest plays of the game. On top of his game-ending sack, Peppers picked off a deep Keenum heave by crossing the field and snatching the ball away from Courtland Sutton to prevent a second-quarter touchdown.
Best from the Broncos: Tim Patrick led a banged-up Broncos receiving corps with five catches for 65 yards.
Key Moment: Emmanuel Ogbah brought the pressure, and Keenum was forced into a terrible pass early in the fourth quarter. The result was a Carrie interception that set up Cleveland’s go-ahead touchdown drive.
Stat of the Game: The Browns entered the red zone for the first time early in the fourth quarter and capitalized with Callaway’s 2-yard touchdown catch. The Browns scored touchdowns in 12 straight red zone appearances before a drive later in quarter ended in a turnover on downs.
Who’s Next?: The Browns are back home for the final time in 2019 when they host the Bengals on Dec. 23.
Photos: Browns take on Broncos at Mile High Stadium
The Cleveland Browns play the Denver Broncos in Week 15.