By Tony Grossi
Browns v. Denver Broncos … in Four Downs
First Down: Peyton’s Place.
Peyton Manning is 5-0 lifetime against the Browns, but his personal statistics have been surprisingly lacking. He has completed 65.9 percent of his passes for 1,117 yards, with two touchdowns and six interceptions. Manning threw both TD passes in a 28-23 Colts win in 2002. Manning’s Colts teams also won by scores of 29-28, 9-6, 13-6 and 10-6.
Second Down: 60 yards or bust.
One of the few place-kicking records for the Browns not held by Phil Dawson is the longest field goal in franchise history. The record is 60 yards by Steve Cox in a game in Cincinnati in 1984. Dawson’s longest is from 56 yards. In the mile-high altitude of Denver, I have no doubt that Dawson could make one from 60 yards. It would be nice to see him get that chance because he probably has only two games left in his Browns career. He will be a free agent after the season. Because Dawson was given the franchise tag this year, the Browns can not talk to him about a new contract until after the season. By the way, there have been only nine field goals from 60 yards or more in NFL history. The record of 63 yards is shared by four kickers. Dawson’s .688 conversion mark from 50 yards or more (22 of 32) ranks third all-time among kickers with 20 or more attempts.
Third Down: Mitchell Schwartz’s NFL bar mitzvah.
Schwartz, the Browns’ right tackle, has quietly put together an outstanding rookie season. Quietly is the operative word because the less said about an offensive lineman, the more likely he is playing well. On Sunday, Schwartz faces his sternest test in Von Miller, the Broncos’ strong-side linebacker who is in the conversation for NFL defensive player of the year. Miller’s 16 sacks rank third in the league and his 25 tackles for a loss are second. The second-year player, who may be the fastest player on the entire Denver defense, has 27.5 sacks in 29 career games. The Browns would be well-advised to give Schwartz some help with chips from a tight end and running back.
Fourth Down: It’s the Holliday season.
On Oct. 11, the Broncos were awarded return specialist Trindon Holliday on waivers from Houston. The 5-5, 170-pound world-class sprinter has a kickoff return of 105 yards and a punt return of 76 yards for touchdowns. Overall, Holliday averages 27.3 yards on kickoff returns and 10.4 on punt returns. The Browns’ Josh Cribbs, who has not scored on a return this year, averages 27.6 and 12.5.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to email@example.com
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