Skip to main content


Four Downs: Just how rare was a rushing performance like Johnny Manziel's?


1. Just how rare was a rushing performance like Johnny Manziel's?

It wasn't a conventional way to pick up yards and it wasn't anything like he's done during his Browns career, but it was what Cleveland needed out of Johnny Manziel on Sunday against the Chiefs.

"We'll take yards and points however we can get them," Browns coach Mike Pettine said.

The 108 rushing yards Manziel accumulated at Arrowhead Stadium weren't enough to lead the Browns to a stunning victory, but his performance as a runner was something that hadn't been seen in Browns history and was even a rarity in the NFL in 2015.

The finer details follow...

Manziel made Browns history by the fourth play of Sunday's fourth quarter. Cleveland never had a 100-yard rushing performance from a quarterback, and Manziel didn't even need to hit the century mark to break Frank Ryan's record -- which lasted a whopping 53 years -- of 80 rushing yards against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 4, 1962. The next best was 60 by Gary Danielson in 1985.

Manziel finished with 108 yards on 11 carries. His 34-yard rush to start the second half was the second-longest by a Browns quarterback since 1999, falling short of just Tim Couch's 40-yarder against St. Louis in 1999. His 108 yards were second-best total accumulated by an NFL quarterback this season and one of just three 100-yard efforts in 2015. He was just 4 yards short of Marcus Mariota, who had 112 against the Jaguars a few weeks ago.

Like most franchises, the Browns don't have a rich history of mobile quarterbacks. Just two finished their respective careers with more than 1,000 yards -- Mike Phipps (1,155) and Ryan (1,032). After 14 games (eight starts), Manziel is already eighth in franchise history with 259 career rushing yards. Odds are he'll pass Charlie Frye (276) and move into seventh by the end of the year. If he rushes for 38 or more yards Sunday, he'll notch the third-best rushing season by a Browns quarterback in franchise history.

Browns all-time rushing yards leaders (QBs only)

Mike Phipps - 1,155
Frank Ryan - 1,032
Brian Sipe - 762
Otto Graham - 682
Tim Couch - 556
Colt McCoy - 363
Charlie Frye - 276
Johnny Manziel - 259

Best single-season rushing total by a Browns QB

Phipps - 395 (1973)
Phipps - 279 (1974)
Couch - 267 (1999)
Phipps - 256 (1972)
Ryan - 242 (1962)
Manziel - 230 (2015)

2. Steelers playoff situation

Had the Steelers taken care of business last week at Baltimore, they'd face a win-and-you're-in situation Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium. Instead, the Steelers will need to win and get some help from the Bills, who host the 10-5 New York Jets and need to beat them in order for Pittsburgh to have a shot at the postseason. Another scenario for the Steelers to make the playoffs collapsed Monday when the Broncos beat the Bengals to clinch a playoff berth.

If the Steelers win and get the necessary help, they'll be the third straight team to clinch a playoff spot at the Browns' behest. That hasn't been lost on Browns players.

"(A win) would mean everything," linebacker Nate Orchard said. "This year has been such a roller coaster, but to cap it off with a W at home against Pittsburgh, I'm sure it would leave the fans happy, as well as players and coaches."

3. Snap counts of note

Here's what stood out to us after a review of Sunday's snap counts against the Chiefs:

-- Rookie wide receiver Darius Jennings, who was re-signed to the team earlier in the week, led everyone at his position with 61 snaps.

-- Running back Isaiah Crowell touched the ball on 16 of his 28 snaps. He finished with 88 yards and a touchdown.

-- Fellow running back Duke Johnson was on the field for 41 snaps, many of which saw him lined up as a wide receiver.

-- Paul Kruger (41 of 54 snaps) and Nate Orchard (30 of 54) carried the load at outside linebacker with Armonty Bryant sidelined.

-- The Browns used their two nose tackles, Danny Shelton (19) and Jamie Meder (16), on just 35 of 54 snaps.

4. Stat to know

It may be a passing league more than it ever has, but this year's NFL season has proven yet again the value of a reliable running game. Only three teams in position to make the playoffs rank in the bottom half in rushing offense -- Denver (18th, 100.5), Washington (23rd, 94.7) and New England (29th, 88.9).

The Browns have made a leap up the rankings in recent weeks and currently sit at 19th with an average of 96.2 rushing yards per game.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content