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.
– 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.
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)
– 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.
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)