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Four Downs: For Browns, there's something different about facing Peyton Manning


1. For Browns, there's something different about facing Peyton Manning

No matter who it was, seemingly everyone in the Browns locker room or press conference room had a Peyton Manning story.

Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, who is a few years younger than the veteran quarterback, admitted Manning was one of his favorite players in the NFL. When he was with the Oakland Raiders, DeFilippo often joked with Charles Woodson about "stealing the Heisman" from Manning in 1997.

"The guy is just a football player. Loves football," DeFilippo said. "You can't say enough great things about Peyton Manning."

Desmond Bryant has 19 career sacks. It stuck out enough in his memory to remember that one of them came during his final season with the Raiders, Manning's first with the Broncos. That story made its way across the locker room to rookie Danny Shelton, who was four years old when Manning made his NFL debut in 1998.

"I was jealous," Shelton said. "It is pretty cool because the guy has been in the league for 18 years and he is still playing at a high level. I am just excited to be out there competing against him."

Manning was on the opposite sidelines for one of the most crushing losses of Mike Pettine's career. As an outside linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens, Pettine watched his defense wreak havoc on Manning and limit him to a 50 percent completion rate, 170 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in a 2006 AFC Divisional playoff matchup.

The Ravens lost 15-6.

"I haven't gotten over that one yet. I don't think I ever will," Pettine said. "Unfortunately, not very many positive memories. We did beat him in New York in a playoff game, which was significant, but he's right up there. It's a shame it's potentially winding down for him, but he's clearly in the discussion of the greatest of all time."

That's the core of what adds a unique layer to Sunday's matchup at FirstEnergy Stadium. It could be one of the last, if not the last time, any of Cleveland's players and coaches square off against the future Hall of Fame quarterback.

Every week matters in the NFL, and this one certainly meets the criteria as the Browns look to pick up consecutive victories for the first time since last November, but the Manning Factor adds some intrigue that can't be ignored.

And the last thing anyone wanted to hear was about anything involving a dropoff in Manning's performance.

"He is just a mastermind," cornerback Tramon Williams said. "He is probably the greatest mastermind to play the game. When you have a guy like that behind center, it makes it tough for you. He is playing chess; a lot of people may be playing checkers, and he is playing chess. As a defense and as a team, we have to play chess, too."


2. No need for a replay

It's been a whirlwind week for Gary Barnidge that has included far more media engagements than is typical for the Browns tight end.

One thing Barnidge hasn't done? Watch a replay of the 18-yard circus touchdown catch that made him an immediate fixture on all social media platforms.

Seriously.

"The game is over. We won. There is no need to dwell on the past," Barnidge said. "Now, we are going onto the next week. You have to keep doing it. You can't rely on the past."


3. He said it

DeFilippo has been the beneficiary of some significant praise in recent days because of Cleveland's production on his side of the ball.

The only thing was it was news to DeFilippo when he learned of it at Thursday press conference.

"I will be honest with you, no offense to anyone here, but I don't really read much," he said. "I really don't. There are going to be some weeks when you have good weeks that you are going to get that praise, and believe me there are going to be some weeks when it doesn't go so good, and you are going to get it the other. That is the price you pay when you sit in the big boy chair."


4. Stat of the week

If Duke Johnson Jr. catches six or more passes Sunday against the Broncos, he'll be the first Browns running back in team history to do that in four consecutive games. Johnson is third on the team with 21 receptions, all of which have come in the past three games.

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