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Browns fend off Broncos 17-14 as Denver’s defense forgets how to tackle

In the worst display of tackling by a Broncos defense since 2008, the Denver Broncos get burned by the Cleveland Browns 17-14 to fall to 3-4 on the season.

Denver Broncos v Cleveland Browns Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

We didn’t take the injuries at linebacker seriously enough with the Denver Broncos. They went down to their fifth inside linebacker against the Cleveland Browns and the tackling issues brought back memories of that rough 2008 defense that ultimately got Mike Shanahan fired.

While the final score looked closer than it was, the Broncos defense could not find a way to stop the Browns rushing attack. Only the Browns stopped their rushing attack by having Case Keenum throw it. At 3-4, the Broncos are spiraling with no hope of seeing things recover after this 17-14 defeat.

First Quarter

The Broncos lost the opening coin toss, but the Browns elected to take the ball first bringing Case Keenum out to start the game.

It didn’t take the Browns long to gash the Broncos defense for big plays as the horrific defensive play over the last few weeks continued into Week 7.

The Broncos immediately went three and out with their first possession and the Browns flipped that into a 10-point lead to begin the game after their next drive ended in a field goal.

With the first quarter waning, the Broncos offense got going on a screen pass for their first first down of the game and two plays later a deep shot from Teddy Bridgewater to Courtland Sutton was completed after Sutton hauled it in with one hand to put the Broncos on the fringe of field goal range.

Browns 10, Broncos 0.

Second Quarter

The second quarter began with a Bridgewater shot to the end zone that hung up in the 30 MPH winds like a duck for the easy interception for the Browns.

Both teams traded punts from there until late in the second quarter. The Browns got back to running the ball and back to gashing the Broncos run defense for big chunks. That and the screen pass kept the Broncos defense on their heels. Just after the two minute warning the Browns looked to extend their lead to 13-0, but Shelby Harris blocked the kick.

The Browns had 97 rushing yards averaging 6.1 yards per carry in the first half and looked unstoppable on offense at times, which made their 10-point halftime lead seem like a lot more. To make matters worse, the Broncos lost Von Miller to a bad looking lower leg injury just before halftime and he would be ruled out for the remainder of the game.

Browns 10, Broncos 0.

Third Quarter

After such a horrible first half, the Broncos needed to come out and do something on offense and that is exactly what they did. They marched 79 yards on 13 plays to cap their opening second half drive with a touchdown pass from Bridgewater to Melvin Gordon. Gordon made an outstanding play to break a tackle and reach for the end zone to cut the lead to 10-7.

Whatever momentum fans hoped they’d see from that touchdown drive was quickly put to rest as the Browns offense continued to gash the Broncos defense as they marched all the way down to the Denver six yard line. They held Keenum to a fourth down when Jonathan Cooper - in for an injured Von Miller - hit Keenum as he threw. On fourth down, he bulldozed through would-be Broncos tacklers for a four yard gain to convert the first down that would lead to a touchdown on the next play.

That’s how the third quarter would end.

Browns 17, Broncos 7.

Fourth Quarter

Despite overwhelming advantages on both offense and defense, the Browns couldn’t seem to pull away completely. They kept giving Bridgewater and the Broncos offense chances in this game.

Denver put together a long 17-play drive converting a fourth down along the way scoring a touchdown with just over five minutes left in the game. Javonte Williams took a screen pass on third and goal from the nine yard line and powered his way into the end zone to make it a three-point game at 17-14, Browns.

All the Broncos needed was a stop from their defense, but they just got run over and run roughshod as the Browns ran the clock down on the Broncos side of the field.

There were some positives on offense in the second half, but the defense was a surprising collapse in fundamental football in this game. The poor tackling in this game brought back memories of watching the Broncos 2008 defense rack up record setting bad numbers on the defensive side of the ball.

Browns 17, Broncos 14.


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