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NFL roundup: Baker Mayfield, Browns beat Broncos 17-16

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) scrambles against the Denver Broncos during the second half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, in Denver. (David Zalubowski / AP)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) scrambles against the Denver Broncos during the second half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, in Denver. (David Zalubowski / AP)
Associated Press

DENVER – Baker Mayfield capitalized on Denver’s depleted cornerback corps and dubious decisions in leading the Cleveland Browns past the Broncos 17-16 on Saturday night, keeping alive their slim hopes of ending the NFL’s longest playoff drought.

Mayfield’s 2-yard TD toss to Antonio Calloway with just under 12 minutes left provided the winning margin for the Browns (6-7-1). They snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Broncos (6-8).

Improving to 3-28 on the road over the last four seasons, the Browns still have a shot at their first winning season since 2007 and even their first playoff berth since 2002 thanks to their first win over Denver since 1990.

Calloway’s touchdown made it 17-13 and came with safety Justin Simmons in coverage because the Broncos were down five cornerbacks.

The Broncos responded with a 13-play drive that ate up more than seven minutes, but coach Vance Joseph inexplicably sent in kicker Brandon McManus for a field goal instead of going for it on fourth-and-1 from the Cleveland 6 with 4:35 remaining.

Texans 29, Jets 22: Deshaun Watson threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins with 2:15 left, lifting the Houston Texans to a 29-22 comeback victory over Sam Darnold and the New York Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

After Darnold and the Jets took their first lead of the game on Elijah McGuire’s 2-yard touchdown run, Watson and the Texans (10-4) answered right back.

A holding call on cornerback Morris Claiborne on third down prolonged the drive, and Watson completed passes of 20 and 3 yards to Demaryius Thomas and 7 yards to Hopkins to get to New York’s 14. Watson then found Hopkins streaking down the left sideline and launched a pass that the receiver somehow came down with despite being tightly covered by Claiborne.

Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 40-yard field goal made it 29-22 with 54 seconds left. Darnold and the Jets (4-10) had one more opportunity to try to tie – or win – but Houston held on.

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