Colts Escape Cleveland With 25-24 Victory

Intro: The Colts (9-4) survived a scare in Cleveland on Sunday with a final-minute, 25-24 victory over the Browns (7-6). Here’s a rundown of the Colts keeping their two-game divisional lead.

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INDIANAPOLIS

First Quarter Recap

The Colts won the toss and chose to defer to the second half.

With Brian Hoyer under center, Cleveland's first offensive drive produced one first down before having to punt. The punt was a result of Erik Walden recording his team-leading sixth sack of the season.

The Colts first crack offensively mustered just five yards on two Trent Richardson runs. A rare poor punt from Pat McAfee gave Cleveland some decent field position near midfield.

Some heavy pressure looks from the Colts continued on Cleveland's second offensive drive. That pressure forced a high throw from Hoyer on a third-and-four and a second straight punt for the Browns.

Andrew Luck and the offense would get into another third-and-five but couldn't convert. Some blitzing pressure on third down caused an errant throw from Luck. A 58-yard punt from Pat McAfee netted just 21 yards after a 37-yard return from Travis Benjamin.

A promising Cleveland drive would come to a halt in the end zone. A Brian Hoyer pass was deflected by linebacker Jerrell Freeman and safety Mike Adams made the diving interception. The turnover was the seventh of the season forced by Adams, which leads the NFL.

It was more of the same for the Colts defense with pressure causing Hoyer to throw away a third-down pass.

Backed up inside their own 10-yard line, the Colts slow start finally caught up to them. On a third-down pass Luck was sacked by Desmond Bryant and Cleveland linebacker Craig Robertson jumped on the loose ball in the end zone. The Browns took a 7-0 lead with 40 seconds left in the opening quarter.

At the end of the first quarter, the Browns led the Colts 7-0.Second Quarter Recap

After a quarter to forget for the Colts offense and special teams, the defense continued to play well. Greg Manusky's unit dialed up another drive ending in a punt.

The Colts began their first drive of the second quarter at their own five-yard line with A.Q. Shipley in at center for an injured Jonottahn Harrison. The Colts run of failed third-down conversions ran to six on the afternoon after an Andrew Luck pass was batted down.

It appeared the Browns were on their way to stretching the lead to a couple of scores on their next dive. However, Billy Cundiff missed a 40-yard field goal, marking the fifth straight game he has missed a field goal.

After an uncharacteristic slow start for the Colts offense, the unit finally got things in order. The legs of Andrew Luck sparked a 70-yard drive. With the Colts facing a third-and-eight, Luck kept it himself for an 11-yard touchdown. Luck's touchdown run tied the score at seven with 5:57 left in the second quarter.

The Browns answered Indy's touchdown drive with their best one of the afternoon. A nine-play, 77-yard drive included a pair of nice third-down throws from Brian Hoyer before running back Isaiah Crowell went untouched from nine yards out. At 1:19 left in the first half, Cleveland led 14-7.

Indianapolis could not muster any points in a two-minute drive.

At halftime, the Browns led the Colts 14-7.

Third Quarter Recap

It was certainly not the start the Colts wanted coming out of halftime. T.Y. Hilton was stripped and the Browns recovered the ball at the Indianapolis 38-yard line. It marked the 14th time the Colts have fumbled in the last three weeks.

In a sudden change scenario, the Colts defense stood tall. Cleveland could not produce any points after starting at the Indianapolis 38-yard line but did pin the Colts at their one-yard line following a punt.

After a first down run by Trent Richardson, the Colts would commit another critical turnover. Andrew Luck was picked by rookie Justin Gilbert and the No. 8 overall pick returned it 23 yards for a touchdown. Cleveland's lead was 21-7 with 10:21 to go in the third quarter.

Down 14, the Colts got things started after a solid return from Josh Cribbs. Indianapolis got back into Browns territory and the drive ended with Adam Vinatieri booming home a 51-yard field goal, his 32nd straight make. With that field goal, Vinatieri has now set a Colts franchise record with seven straight makes from at least 50 yards. The Browns lead was 21-10 with 7:16 to go in the third quarter.

Following a three-and-out by the Cleveland offense, Indianapolis had a chance to seriously shift momentum.

The change was helped by T.Y. Hilton providing another timely spark for the Colts. It was Hilton hauling in a back shoulder grab in front of Joe Haden before slipping into the end zone for a 42-yard touchdown. A failed two-point conversion put the Cleveland lead at 21-16 with 4:01 left in the third quarter.

The Colts defense once again executed another three-and-out, giving the offense the ball back with a chance to take the lead heading into the fourth quarter.

At the end of the third quarter, the Browns led the Colts 21-16.Fourth Quarter Recap

The Colts continued to chip away at the Cleveland lead. A T.Y. Hilton drop forced the Colts to settle for a 33-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri. Cleveland's lead was now 21-19 with 14:50 left in the fourth quarter.

In a third straight impressive effort out of the Indianapolis defense, the unit put together another key three-and-out. It marked the seventh punt of the afternoon for Cleveland punter Spencer Lanning.

The turnover bug would once again plague the Indy offense. An Andrew Luck pass went off the outstretched hands of T.Y. Hilton and Cleveland safety Jim Leonhard picked of the pass. It marked the NFL-best 19th interception of the season for the Browns.

A drive that started in Colts territory could have pushed the Browns lead to two scores midway through the fourth quarter. Instead, the Indianapolis defense once again executed in a sudden change scenario. A field goal from Billy Cundiff gave Cleveland a 24-19 lead with 8:34 left in the fourth quarter.

The Colts had another chance to take the lead. A 33-yard reception from T.Y. Hilton got things started but the drive would stall near midfield. The Colts had to punt it away with 6:43 to play, trailing by five points.

With the Colts needing their defense to come up with yet another stop, the unit did just that. An overturned third-down completion gave the Colts the ball at their own nine-yard line with 3:46 to play needing a touchdown.

Andrew Luck was looking for the 12th game-winning drive of his career. This one would come in the form of an 11-play, 90-yard drive with some critical conversions. A 27-yard reception by Donte Moncrief on a third-and-10 got things started. The major one came on a fourth-and-one with Boom Herron executing a perfect spin move to get the conversion at the Browns two-yard line. With the clock under a minute, the Colts wasted no time scoring the game-winning score. T.Y. Hilton scored on a one-yard touchdown catch to give the Colts a 25-24 lead.

Cornerback Josh Gordy would seal the victory with a final interception giving the Colts their ninth victory of the season.

Colts Inactives

23-Vontae Davis

58-Andy Studebaker

60-Lance Louis

67-Andrew McDonald

69-Hugh Thornton

71-Xavier Nixon

94-Zach Kerr

Colts Pre-Game Notes

-With a win this afternoon, and a loss from Houston in Jacksonville, the Colts can clinch the AFC South.Weather Update

-Reports from Cleveland have temperatures in the high 30s with sunny skies.

Looking to have pre-reserve gameday parking at Lucas Oil Stadium? Check out *Parkwhiz for your parking needs.*

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