Dec 13, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Brian Hartline (83) runs the ball for a seven-yard gain as he is tackled by San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53) during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns defeated the 49ers 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Player of the Game: Isaiah Crowell
“The Crow” had himself one of the best running performance in some time for a Browns back and the most yards in five years. Twenty carries, 140 yards, and two touchdowns quantifies the explosion through the hole and the willingness to trust his blocking. He was helped by a commitment to the run game and did not disappoint. Really, he had over 100 yards on two carries alone, which skews his overall numbers. But you cannot take away the fact that he moved the chains and allowed the rest of the offense to operate at full speed.
Play of the Game: Crowell’s 2nd TD Run
It’s hard to pass up the big 50 yard runs. But what happened when Crowell punched in a 2 yard touchdown midway through the 4th quarter really ended the game and took the 49ers emotionally out of it. Somehow, Gary Barnidge ended up with the ball after the score. 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who had taken some cheap shots after the play all series, punched the ball out of Barnidge’s hand and sent it flying across the field, prompting a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty. That played broke what was left of the 49ers desire to win the game.
Under the Radar Player of the Game: Brian Hartline
Before leaving with a shoulder injury, Hartline caught eight balls for 107 yards, often providing Manziel a reliable target when on the move. He was the most targeted receiver on the day and was a big reason why Manziel’s scrambles ended up as productive plays and not throw aways.
Unfortunately, he’ll be lost for the season, as a thin receiving corps just got a lot thinner.
The Win by the Numbers:
7: The number of losses before the win on Sunday
11: Weeks since the Browns had allowed fewer than 14 points. You have to go back to Manziel’s last win as a starter against the Titans in week 2, when the defense surrendered only 14 points, for the previous season low.
37:39: The time of possession for the Browns today. More often than not, the Browns has actually won the time of possession battle this season with little to show for it. Instead, this game showed that controlling the clock is still a strong indicator of team success. The only difference between previous weeks for the Browns and this game was that the offense actually got into the endzone when the opportunities were there.
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3-4: The red zone conversion rate for the Browns, just one week after they failed to even reach the red zone and well above the roughly 40% rate the Browns execute at this season. Like the time of possession numbers above, the offense actually took advantage of their scoring chances, save for another blocked field goal in the 3rd straight game.
230: Rushing yards for the Browns, easily their best output of the season. Going into the game, the Browns were dead last in the NFL in rushing. But a commitment to the run game to help Manziel and the passing attack was evident from the start. Crowell’s 140 yards and Duke Johnson’s 78 yards made a big difference for the offense on Sunday. What’s even better is that Crowell (20 carries) and Johnson (13 carries) were given a chance to succeed both from the play calling and from the defense.
3: The number of wins on the season for the Browns. No, this isn’t nearly enough and no, this is far below the expectations coming into the year. But a win is a win is a win, right?