Case Keenum -- in for Baker Mayfield -- helps Browns end skid, stay in playoff race

Case Keenum throws a pass to Johnny Stanton, allowing the Browns to extend their lead. (0:16).
CLEVELAND -- Case Keenum, the Cleveland Browns' quarterback, dropped back on fourth down at the Denver 10-yard line. The Denver Broncos' pass rush was relentlessly pursuing him and he had no place to throw.

Keenum ran up the middle. Keenum then faked left and swung right to score a first-down at the 1-yard line with a Denver linebacker in his way. On the next play, Keenum threw a touchdown pass play-action, helping the Browns win 17-14 over the Broncos.

The Browns signed Keenum two offseasons back to mentor Baker Mayfield. He was brought in by the Browns believing that he would be able to step in in an emergency, and keep Cleveland's season alive if needed. Keenum delivered the news on Thursday night at FirstEnergy Stadium, Mayfield being out with a torn labrum.

Kevin Stefanski, Browns coach, said that Keenum fought as he does every day. "Orchestrated and managed the operation. It was a big play on fourth down. To make a play, fighting to gain extra yards. He did an excellent job fighting."

After two consecutive losses, Keenum performed well in a play-action-based and short-throw-oriented offense. Keenum completed 21 of 33 passes, gaining 199 yards. The touchdown came after the play of the match -- his fourth down conversion.

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Keenum stated that you don't have to be ready if youre ready. I have been prepared since my arrival.

Keenum might have to be available for the moment.

Mayfield revealed that he has also suffered a fracture to his left shoulder, further complicating the Clevelands quarterback situation. Mayfield hopes to be back by Cleveland's next game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 31.

Keenum, however, proved Thursday that Mayfield can still play if Mayfield is not able to.

A breakout performance is what you should buy: Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunter and D'Ernest Johnson were both suffering from calf injuries. Third-string running back D'Ernest Johnson made good use of his first career start. Johnson ran for 34 yards, including a touchdown run of 4 yards. Johnson finished with 146 yards, his first 100-yard game in his career. Chubb could return as early as October 31. Johnson demonstrated that he is capable of keeping Cleveland's powerful rush attack humming, despite Hunt being out for several weeks.

Troubling trend: Denver was held to 76 yards by the Browns defense for most of the game. However, the Clevelands defense had numerous opportunities to stop Denver and its poor offense in the second half. The Broncos managed to create a fourth quarter touchdown drive that kept the game interesting. The Browns have the talent to be a top-tier defensive team. They are still half-way through the season and have not put it all together.

Two words to describe the game: Get right. Although it wasn't the most impressive performance, the Browns needed it to maintain their high preseason goals.