|Date of game: 12/7/2014
Recap: Cleveland vs. Indianapolis
Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Andrew Luck's 1-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton with 32 seconds left in the fourth quarter rallied the Indianapolis Colts to a 25-24 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
The Colts (9-4) won their third straight game to inch closer to the AFC South title, while dealing the Browns (7-6) a heart-breaking defeat after they blew a two-touchdown lead.
Luck connected on 24-of-53 throws for 294 yards with two scores and a pair of interceptions, both to Hilton, who had 10 catches for 150 yards. The Colts hold a two-game lead on Houston and can win the division with a home victory against the Texans next Sunday.
"We struggled early. Credit to them," said Luck. "Our tempo definitely helped. We were forced into a hurry-up tempo but I think that it was beneficial."
The Browns had a pair of defensive TDs, but lost their second straight for the first time this season.
It was a perfect opportunity for Cleveland to gain ground in the AFC North, especially with Cincinnati (8-4-1) falling at home to Pittsburgh (8-5) Sunday. The Ravens (8-5) won in Miami.
Brian Hoyer finished 14-of-31 for 140 yards with two interceptions for the Browns.
"Obviously, very disappointed," said Browns coach Mike Pettine. "When you lose a close game like that, for the most part our guys played at a high level."
Jim Leonhard picked off Luck early in the fourth quarter, and that led to Billy Cundiff's 39-yard field goal, which extended Cleveland's lead to 24-19.
The Browns got the ball back with 6:43 remaining at their own 13 following a punt and were trying to run time off the clock when Hoyer connected with Josh Gordon over the middle for 14 yards on a 3rd-and-8 play. Gordon made a diving grab, but the Colts successfully challenged the call and the Browns punted.
Indianapolis started the drive at its 10 and it nearly ended right away when Barkevious Mingo came through and nearly swatted the ball away before sacking Luck.
On 3rd-and-7, Luck fired over the middle to Donte Moncreif for a 27-yard gain. Then came a 35-yard pass interference penalty on Buster Skrine. Coby Fleener made a 13-yard catch to the Cleveland 12 on 3rd-and-10, and the Colts only kept their winning drive alive thanks to a great spin move by running back Dan Herron. On 4th-and-1, he spun out of a tackle and gained two yards to the 1. On the next play, Hilton made a catch on the left side of the end zone.
Hoyer was picked off by Josh Gordy to cement the outcome.
Hoyer was benched early in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's 26-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Browns coach Mike Pettine didn't announce until Wednesday that Hoyer would stay on as the starter instead of Johnny Manziel.
Mike Adams picked off Hoyer in the end zone with nearly five minutes left in the first quarter, but it was Cleveland's defense which came through with the first points of the game. Facing a 3rd-and-10 from the Indianapolis 10, Luck faced heavy pressure up the middle from Desmond Bryant. Paul Kruger knocked the ball loose and Craig Robertson recovered in the end zone.
Cundiff pushed a 40-yard field goal try wide right with 8:50 left in the half, and the Colts tied the game on their next possession. Luck faced a 3rd-and-8 at the 11 when he stepped up in the pocket and fended off a tackler near the goal line to equal the score.
Hoyer came right back by leading his team on a 9-play, 77-yard scoring march that ended with a 9-yard run by Isaiah Crowell with 1:14 left on the clock.
Indy's first two possessions of the second half ended with a turnover. Hilton fumbled the ball away after making a short reception. Luck was then intercepted by Justin Gilbert on the right side of the field, and he rumbled 23 yards to the end zone for a 21-7 margin.
Adam Vinatieri kicked a 51-yard field goal, and then the Colts got closer when Luck found Hilton for a 42-yard score. Luck's pass to the end zone for the 2- point conversion was picked off by Leonhard, leaving the Colts with a 21-16 deficit.Game Notes
The Colts have beaten the Brown five straight times on the road ... This
marked Indy's first trip to Cleveland since Nov. 30, 2008 ... Trent Richardson
was limited to 30 yards on seven carries for Indianapolis.