Brissett gets in sync to lead Colts past Browns 31-28

Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (85) makes a catch for a touchdown in front of Indianapolis Colts inside linebacker Jon Bostic (57) during the first half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

(TSX / STATS) — INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts, who entered Sunday’s game against Cleveland ranked 27th in NFL scoring and 29th in yards per game, scored 28 first-half points and went on to defeat the Browns 31-28 in Lucas Oil Stadium.

Quarterback Jacoby Brissett completed 9 of 12 passes for 206 yards and a touchdown during the first 30 minutes, and T.Y. Hilton caught five first-half passes for 145 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown pass with 5:14 remaining in the second quarter that pushed the Indianapolis lead to 21-7.

Brissett also ran 5 and 7 yards for opening-half touchdowns, and Frank Gore ran 4 yards for a touchdown with 2:41 to play in the second quarter, giving the Colts a commanding 28-7 lead.

Completions of 31 and 25 yards to Hilton set up Indianapolis’ touchdowns, as did a 34-yard pass interference penalty on another pass intended for Hilton.

Brissett finished 17 of 24 for 259 yards and a touchdown. Hilton had seven receptions for 153 yards.

The Colts (1-2), who entered averaging 11 points and 245.5 yards per game, gained 260 yards on 31 plays in the first two quarters. The Browns (0-3) entered ranked 24th in NFL scoring (14.0) and 18th in yards per game (311.5).

Indianapolis extended its lead to 31-14 with 10:18 left in the fourth quarter on Adam Vinatieri’s 33-yard field goal after cornerback Rashaan Melvin’s second interception of Cleveland quarterback DeShone Kizer, who directed two first-half touchdown drives.

Kizer finished 22 of 47 for 242 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions, including free safety Malik Hooker’s grab on the game’s final play.

The Browns have dropped their first three games for the eighth time since 1999 and for the sixth time in the past 10 seasons.

Duke Johnson’s 18-yard touchdown run with 13:22 left in the second quarter capped a five-play, 75-yard drive and briefly tied the game at 7-7 before the Colts ran off 21 consecutive points during the first half’s final 10:06, which included drives of 75, 97 and 45 yards. Those drives were comprised of 14 total plays.

Kizer’s 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end David Njoku with 27 seconds left in the first half sliced the Colts’ halftime lead to 28-14. That 10-play drive covered 75 yards.

The Browns closed to within 31-21 with 6:56 remaining on Kizer’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Britt, capping a five-play, 56-yard drive.

Kizer’s 1-yard run with 2:04 to go completed an 11-play, 70-yard drive and pulled the Browns within three. The Colts’ Matthias Farley recovered the ensuing onside kick, sealing the Indianapolis victory.

NOTES: Deyshawn Bond started at center for the Colts in place of the injured Ryan Kelly, and Pierre Desir started at right cornerback in place of the injured Vontae Davis … Indianapolis now leads the all-time series 15-14, including three consecutive victories … Cleveland outscored Indianapolis 21-3 during the final 30:27.