CLEVELAND, OH – Thanks to a strong running attack led by third-string RB D’Ernest Johnson and his 22 carries for 146 yards and one touchdown, and complimentary football by veteran journeyman QB Case Keenum, the Cleveland Browns eked out a rare win over the visiting Denver Broncos, 17-14
Just their second win in last 14 games vs. Broncos and their seventh all-time in 28 meetings, Keenum looked efficient in going 21-33 for 199 yards and one touchdown.
No Baker Mayfield. No Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. No Jack Conklin. On a short week after a deflating 37-14 home loss to the league’s lone undefeated team in the Arizona Cardinals, with a short week to prepare for a team that has historically tormented and vexed both the city of Cleveland and the Browns franchise.
If you’re a long-suffering Browns fan in your forties like me, you know—and lived thru the horror of seeing Denver rip the hearts out of Cleveland, and how the Broncos ruined both your childhood and your beloved team’s Super Bowl dreams. In Cleveland, you are brought up to hate the Pittsburgh Steelers, loathe the Baltimore Ravens and despise the Broncos.
While Pittsburgh and Baltimore have done many things to ruin Cleveland’s sports hopes, Denver simply makes your Northeastern Ohio sports blood boil. Cue the deeply ingrained rage and PTSD from “The Drive” and “The Fumble”.
If you’re a modern-day member of Gen Z or X, Google it and prepare to throw your beloved smartphone or tablet at the nearest wall.
But for at least one night, and with Halloween right around the corner, the ancient demons of Cleveland’s ineptitude vs. Denver were exorcised, with Public Enemy No.1 in John Elway—now the Broncos Executive Vice President of Operations—watching from the visitor’s suite.
On this night, there would be no 98-yard drive, or some tragic fumble to save Denver, as Keenum looked sharp and played the role of savior for a team, who’s Super Bowl hopes were dead in the water, and their season potentially on the brink.
Author of the famed Minneapolis Miracle during his stint in Minnesota—with current head coach Kevin Stefanski serving as his offensive coordinator—Keenum improved to 8-17 since that magical moment in Minneapolis, and his first win as a starting QB since 2019, when he was with the Washington Football Team.
Cleveland does not need Keenum to be Mayfield, and thanks to his knowledge and comfort level of working under Stefanski, a strong running game and the ability to take care of the ball, as long as Keenum continues to not make any mistakes and turn it over, the Browns should be able to weather their current storm of injuries.
With nine days until they face their ultimate archrival in the Steelers, both Keenum and the Browns can get some much-needed rest and more players healthy. In potentially saving their season at the expense of a longtime nemesis in Denver makes it all the sweeter.
And yes, John Elway, we STILL hate you.