DEN-CLE Grades: Browns falter late, Broncos defense carries team to victory yet again

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Broncos’ 26-23 overtime win over the Browns on Sunday.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

DEN-CLE Grades: Browns falter late, Broncos defense carries team to victory yet again

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Broncos’ 26-23 win over the Browns on Sunday.

Denver Broncos

– Another rough game for QB Peyton Manning (-0.3), who finished with his fourth negative overall grade of the season. He made a handful of big-time throws, including passes to Emmanuel Sanders (+1.4) at 13:41 and 8:02 of the fourth quarter, but otherwise mostly struggled when venturing downfield (9-for-22 on 10+ yard passes) with a lack of velocity allowing defenders to close on the ball at times. That was despite facing pressure on just a quarter of his 48 dropbacks, less than his season average of 29.3 percent.

– LB Shaquil Barrett (+2.3) took full advantage of DeMarcus Ware’s absence with his 75 snaps resulting in seven combined pressures and three defensive stops. His pass rushing wasn’t quite as impactful as the pressure total would indicate as he came unblocked on his marquee play—a third quarter sack-fumble on Josh McCown—while his second sack at 13:01 of overtime was of the cleanup variety. But, he still impressed with some stout plays in run defense, including at 10:52 of the fourth quarter.

– Cornerbacks Aqib Talib (+1.5) and Chris Harris Jr. (+2.5) were the highlights of a strong performance from the Denver secondary. A missed tackle and offside penalty lowered his overall grade, but Talib was excellent in coverage. He got his hands on two passes, one of them a pick-six, while allowing just two receptions on five targets covering Travis Benjamin. Harris allowed just 11 yards on four targets with a pair of defensive stops.

Top performers:

CB Chris Harris (+2.5)
LB Shaquil Barrett (+2.3)
LB Danny Trevathan (+2.1)
LB Brandon Marshall (+2.0)
DE Derek Wolfe (+1.6)


Cleveland Browns

– QB Josh McCown’s (-3.7) pass from a clean pocket at 14:19 of the second quarter was among the worst you’ll see at any level, and it was punished with a pick-six, while his decision to chuck the ball with 53 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter cost the Browns a chance at ending the game in regulation. He particularly struggled when pressured, taking a sack on a quarter of those plays and finishing with a 4.4 passer rating on 16 dropbacks.

– A season-high grade for LB Karlos Dansby (+2.4) after a pair of interceptions and decent flat coverage. He also compiled four defensive stops, though he went back-and-forth in run defense, getting sealed at the second level at times but also shedding blockers to squeeze the point of attack, including at 6:22 of overtime.

– This was another solid game for the Browns’ offensive line, and particularly right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who followed up his +4.4 effort against Baltimore with a +1.9 overall grade on Sunday. He largely kept Von Miller in check, allowing just one non-nullified pressure, though he came close on a number of plays. His work resulted in Miller’s worst pass rush output of the season.

Top performers:

LT Joe Thomas (+3.4)
C Alex Mack (+3.2)
LB Karlos Dansby (+2.4)
DE Desmond Bryant (+2.0)
LB Barkevious Mingo (+1.9)

  • crosseyedlemon

    Tough loss for the Browns but it should give them confidence that they can hang in there with top teams when playing at home. It’s hard to convince people your making progress when your in a division with the Bengals and Steelers. Cleveland fans would be very excited about playoff possibilities if they were in the same division as the Colts right now.

    • jody

      IDK, top ‘team’? It maybe shows they can hang with a top defense, if the said top defense is on the field most of the time…

    • Fred Kruse

      Boy are you the upbeat sort. Afraid I now claim that making me a Browns fan is the only negative thing I can say about my dear, departed Dad.

    • Taylor Christian Vance

      I’m a Broncos fanatic and I have some bad new for any Browns fan who’s happy about the way the Browns stuck with it vs. the Broncos. Playing the broncos close doesn’t mean much. The Broncos have played up and down to their competition to reach 6-0. When they build a lead they don’t extend it and when they fall behind they quickly catch up. This results in 6 very close games. The way the Browns played the Broncos means nothing, everyone so far has played the Broncos close.

      And i’m not happy to say it.

  • John OConnor

    I sure wish the play-by-play grades were made available. I’d pay well for that info.

    • rogue

      Preach, brother!

  • Earl Miles

    Can we see scores for the Broncos O-Line? The progress of Paradis, Mathis and Ryan are interesting topics.

    • Malachi

      pay for it, this is a teaser article

  • GESBoulder

    The loss of subscriber access to player game grades is a giant step backward.

    • Taylor Christian Vance

      Ya, I agree but you know why they chose to do that right? It’s people freaking out when the game stats don’t match the PFF grade for a particular game(see Aaron Rodgers vs. Chiefs 2015). So because people throw their hissy fits and make a scene PFF has chosen to only give us cumulative season ratings so we can’t pick at their system on a per game basis. They are protecting their brand.

      • Malachi

        i’d bet it’s actually nfl teams that pressured them into removing them, not ignorant internet trolls, lol

  • Thomas Bell

    Schofield is progressing very nicely — third amongst denver ol with a + .08. And B Robey had a very solid game. Plenty has been written about Barrett and others, but V Walker and A Smith continue to quietly grade in the positive nearly every week…for a fraction of what pot roast was asking. D Stewart is a huge upgrade over Moore. With hindsight, the only 2014 free agent I’d like to have back is Will Montgomery at Center.

    • Malachi

      paradis is building to the future at center tho, and he manhandled big ol’ danny shelton at times in the run game on sunday, despite giving up at least 40 lbs on him