Rtl today – American football: Browns Johnson outshines Broncos in first NFL start

Ernest Johnson caught fire in his first NFL start, rushing for a career-high 146 yards and scoring a touchdown to propel the injury-riddled Cleveland Browns to a 17-14 victory over the Broncos from Denver.

The undrafted 25-year-old Floridian finished with 22 carries and also tallied 22 receiving yards on Thursday for the Browns, who snapped a two-game losing skid in the battle between two stoned NFL teams.

The Browns were without quarterback Baker Mayfield and two of their top running backs, Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb, who missed their second straight game with a calf injury. Hunt also has a sore calf and Mayfield has a throwing arm injury that could keep him out for a while.

“I just trusted my abilities. It’s a great feeling,” said running back Johnson. “It’s inexplicable. The coaches believed in me and gave me a chance.”

It was Johnson’s first start in his third year in the NFL. Prior to this game, he had carried just 11 yards this season.

In one game, Johnson came close to surpassing his previous season’s best rushing total of 166 from last season.

Johnson was not drafted at the University of South Florida, where he racked up 1,796 yards and 16 touchdowns in four seasons.

The New Orleans Saints invited him to training camp but Johnson didn’t get it. He then worked on a fishing boat while waiting for his NFL opportunity to present itself.

Johnson eventually landed a job in the Alliance of American Football league. The Browns saw him play and invited him to train with the team.

“Playing in the NFL is my dream, but being on a fishing boat was a blessing,” Johnson said. “Not many people get away from where I was.”

Alternate quarterback Case Keenum had 199 yards and a touchdown while starting in place of Mayfield and Johnny Stanton caught his first career-scoring pass in the win.

Denver’s Teddy Bridgewater completed 23 of 33 passes for 187 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while playing on a sore foot. Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams caught touchdown passes for the Broncos, who have lost their fourth straight game and are down to 3-4 this season.

About Betty J. Snyder

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