CLEVELAND -- Johnny Manziel started fast and finished strong as the Cleveland Browns won a game thanks to Travis Benjamin's three touchdowns and one hugely alert play by Manziel with the game still in question.
Manziel pulled off one of the escape plays he made in college, spinning away from a Titans blitz on third down to find Benjamin for a 50-yard score with 2:52 left that put away a Browns 28-14 victory. Manziel had found Benjamin for a 60-yard TD on the second play of the game. (Benjamin also scored on a punt return.)
What does the win mean for Manziel? It has to give him a ton of confidence. And it has to give the coaching staff and his teammates more confidence in him. After a woeful second half against the Jets, Manziel bounced back to guide the Browns to 14 first-quarter points -- and the key late score that secured the win.
Will it be enough to gain Manziel a start in Game 3 against Oakland? Manziel did have two fumbles that could have changed the game had the Browns not recovered, but could-haves and would-haves do not change the final score. Coach Mike Pettine only said after the game that Josh McCown remains in the NFL's concussion protocol, and he would cross the starter-decision bridge when he got to it.
Manziel certainly gave the coach something to think about.
Manziel had lulls when he and the offense did little in the second and third quarter, but in the NFL it’s how you finish. With the Browns needing a play to keep the Titans from getting the ball back down seven and plenty of time left to tie the game, Manziel came up with a twisting escape from Brian Orakpo and found Benjamin for a vital touchdown.
It was a play that not every NFL quarterback could have made. And it led to Manziel taking the victory formation and a knee on the game's final play.