DENVER - There first was “The Drive.’’
There once was “The Fumble.’’
On Sunday there were “The Stops’’ and “The Anonymous Quarterback’’ and “The Wildcat Run’’ and “The Large Plays.’’
And, finally, “The Brownout.’’
Broncos beat Browns. Rejoice.
This victory won’t be cited prominently in the franchise’s folklore in conjunction with the AFC Championship games of the 1980s.
But, for the 2019 team, 24-19 is a Mile(High)stone.
The Broncos’ offense scored three touchdowns; the defense held the opponents to one touchdown, and the special teams didn’t cause a snafu.
The Broncos go to the bye without a final bye-bye.
If they could win the last seven ... never mind. Nevertheless, they won’t have a 2-14 record, as some national “expert’’ predicted before the season, and they could win at least three more games, and they’ll probably will end up better off than the Cleveland Milli Vanilli.
Visualize that Brandon Allen, who last appeared in an authentic game in the Liberty Bowl after the 2015 season, would outperform the Browns’ alleged amazing “Ginger’’ Baker Mayfield.
The Arkansas Neophyte threw only 20 passes and completed just 12, but his professional debut produced 193 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 125.6. Allen also scrambled about five times, including an important 11-yard gain.
Brandon played like an NFL quarterback, not a guy waiting for a backup job in the XFL. He wasn’t some muckabout Paxton Lynch.
He was aided considerably on offense by such people as Phillip Lindsay, Courtland Sutton and, lo and behold, rookie tight end Noah Fant — and a coordinator who took the wrapping paper off the offense. Rich Scangarello quit acting like he was calling plays for the West Dakota Aardvarks.
The Unknown QB and The Underwhelming OC left a mark.
Allen and Sutton connected on a 21-yard touchdown pass, which the quarterback termed a terrible throw, when the receiver made a marvelous reception. Allen and Fant, who had been stymied and criticized much of the season, combined for a 75-yard touchdown play when the tight end was left unguarded on a crossing pattern.
Scangarello, the first to leave the locker room after every home game, was more willing to trust his quarterback — especially after being chastised after the last game by Joe “Be Gone’’ Flacco for his unadventurous play-calling. The Broncos looked almost Chiefs-like against Cleveland. Maybe that’s what Big Brown can do for him. He had Allen work from the pistol formation — halfway back to the shotgun. The realignment allowed Lindsay to go right or left (for 92 yards, a 10.2 average per) and a touchdown run.
The Broncos scored more than 20 points for just the second game this year. It wasn’t Manning numbers, but impressive for this crowd.
And, late, when the Broncos could have slipped into world of slurp mode, they didn’t give up and in.
With second-and-9 at the Broncos’ 29, with the 2-minute warning approaching, Scangarello unveiled Colorado’s own Lindsay in the “Wild Buffalo’’ offense. He traveled 16 yards, and the game really was done. The Broncos sprung forward rather than fell back.
The rigid defense got the stop(s) this time, unlike the other times this season. For more than 39 minutes the Broncos didn’t permit the Browns to score a touchdown. They seemed like a bunch trying to set the league’s field goal record. The had four and passed on a fifth — and failed twice to convert fourth downs in the Broncos’ orange zone, which coach Vic Fangio said was “very critical. You can do the math. Three (points) instead of seven. One time zero instead of three or seven.
“That’s a difference in the game.’’
Browns coach Freddie Kitchens, who is feeling the heat, bemoaned his offense’s effort. “Anytime you go 1 for 5 in the Red Zone, it’s about execution.’’
The Browns were on “A Drive’’ in the fourth quarter and had third-and-1 at the Broncos 25. Nick Chubb was stuffed for a 3-yard loss, and, on fourth down, the Broncos stifled a Mayfield pass to Jarvis Landry.
The Broncos finally put a temporary termination to adversaries’ go-aheads.
Regarding the Broncos’ closeout of the Browns, Fangio said his team obviously “had been in games like this before. ... We’re now 1-4 in these games or 1-3. (With) just another play here and there in those others we would have gotten it done, too.’’
On Sunday, with their 48th starting quarterback in 60 games, the Broncos created “The Came Up Big With Big Plays’’ game.