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Colts vs. Browns: A rollercoaster battle ends in 39-38 stunner

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In an eventful Sunday matchup, the Indianapolis Colts appeared poised for a victory against the Cleveland Browns. With under a minute left in the fourth quarter, the Browns drove deep into Colts territory before quarterback P.J. Walker fumbled the ball after a sack, and it was recovered by defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. However, Indianapolis cornerback Darrell Baker Jr. was called for illegal contact, giving Cleveland a fresh set of downs.

Moments later, Baker found himself in the midst of another game-altering decision, called for defensive pass interference on what many believed was an uncatchable ball, setting up the Browns at the goal line. This sequence of events ultimately paved the way for the Browns to secure the game-winning touchdown.

Colts Browns game 2023-24 NFL Season.
Left to Right: Dawand Jones (Ben Davis), David Bell (Warren Central), Juju Brents (Warren Central), and Cameron McGrone (Lawrence Central). (Photo/David Dixon)

The interference call became a turning point, positioning the Browns just one yard away from victory with a scant 33 seconds remaining on the clock. While the Colts’ defense courageously attempted to hold their ground, running back Kareem Hunt’s relentless fourth-and-goal run secured the game-winning touchdown, leaving the Colts in disbelief with just 19 seconds remaining.

While these contentious calls undoubtedly played a pivotal role in the Colts’ demise, it is important to acknowledge that the loss cannot be solely attributed to these moments. Quarterback Gardner Minshew, who threw for 305 yards, marred his performance with four turnovers, bringing his total to eight giveaways in his last two starts since stepping in for the injured Anthony Richardson.

The Browns’ defensive end, Myles Garrett, emerged as a standout player, creating two fumbles on sacks of Minshew, one of which resulted in a crucial touchdown for Cleveland. Furthermore, running back Jonathan Taylor had a standout day, accumulating 120 all-purpose yards in his best performance of the season.

RELATED: Colts QB Anthony Richardson opts for season-ending surgery on injured throwing shoulder

Indianapolis Colts QB Gardner Minshew II goes deep for the touchdown pass to WR Michael Pittman Jr. during their game against the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 22, 2023 at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo/David Dixon)

The early stages of the game were equally compelling, with both teams showcasing moments of brilliance. Jerome Ford’s early touchdown for the Browns, featuring a 69-yard run, marked the longest play the Colts had surrendered all season. Minshew answered with a 59-yard touchdown pass to Josh Downs, while an interception by Julian Blackmon set up a Gardner Minshew touchdown run.

The second quarter was filled with dramatic plays, including Hunt’s touchdown for the Browns and Garrett’s astonishing block of a 60-yard field goal attempt. As Minshew and Downs continued to shine, a late-half fumble in the end zone by Minshew led to a Browns touchdown, adding to the drama. The halftime score favored Cleveland, 27-21.

The third quarter witnessed a shift in momentum as Minshew’s interception to Pittman Jr. disrupted the Colts’ flow. Despite the Colts’ efforts and a remarkable catch by Alec Pierce, the Browns maintained their lead with a Jonathan Taylor touchdown.

The final quarter was a rollercoaster of emotions, with Minshew and Pittman connecting for a dramatic touchdown. Kenny Moore’s standout performance was also notable, but the turning point was Darrell Baker Jr.’s back-to-back penalties. These penalties placed the Browns on the one-yard line and paved the way for their last-minute victory.

In a game filled with controversies, momentum swings and standout performances, the Colts found themselves on the losing side as the Cleveland Browns emerged victorious with a controversial 39-38 scoreline. The Colts’ lapses and the unexpected turn of events served as the narrative for this thrilling contest.

Contact guest contributor Bailey Jackson via email at bailjack@gmail.com. For more news from the Indianapolis Recorder, click here. You can also check out the Indiana Minority Business Magazine by clicking here.

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