In Week 6 against the visiting Broncos, the Browns had a chance to get to 3-3 after intercepting Peyton Manning for a third time in overtime. After taking over in Denver territory, the offense went backward 13 yards on three plays and the rest was history. Cleveland never recovered from the 26-23 loss and dropped six more games to fall to 2-10.
Best story of the season
Gary Barnidge came out of nowhere to be one of the best tight ends in the league. Barnidge was third among tight ends in receptions (79), fourth in yardage (1,043), and fourth in touchdowns (9). All from a guy who hadn't caught more than 13 balls in a season and was supposed to back up Rob Housler. Barnidge also does a ton off the field, inviting fans to the movies and taking underprivileged kids on Christmas shopping sprees.
Best play of the season
Gary Barnidge made the catch of the season for the Browns from the seat of his pants. After going up against Ravens safety Will Hill for a jumpball, Barnidge unintentionally corralled the ball as it landed between his legs before scooping it up with his hands and rolling over the goal line for an unbelievable 18-yard touchdown. More importantly it gave the Browns a 22-21 edge in the fourth quarter on the way to a 33-30 overtime win in Week 5.
Getty ImagesRob Carr
Worst loss of the season
Will Hill got his revenge against the Browns six games later with his unbelievable kick six at the buzzer. With overtime looming, Hill returned Travis Coons' blocked 51-yard field goal 64 yards to the house, leaving FirstEnergy Stadium in stunned silence. Honorable mention goes to Cleveland's improbable turn of events in San Diego in Week 4.
Getty ImagesJason Miller
With all due respect to left tackle Joe Thomas, the Browns offense may have been invisible this season if not for the emergence of tight end Gary Barnidge, who had three touchdowns total in his previous six seasons. Barnidge was the security valve for Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel all season, and earned himself a shiny new contract extension in the process.
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Best offseason acquisition
Despite all the naysayers, Josh McCown gave the Browns some semblance of a passing game, even setting a regular season franchise record with 457 yards against Baltimore in Week 5. And he did it with an offense that was supposed to rely heavily on the run. McCown also took a physical pounding on a weekly basis, but hung tough to give it his all until finally geting knocked out with a broken collarbone in Week 12. McCown still showed his leadership when he was injured, although he wasn't able to keep Johnny Manziel from the party scene.
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Travis Benjamin opened up the season with a big bang, scoring five total touchdowns in the first three games. He quieted down some after that, but he still led the team's receiving corps by far with 68 catches for 966 yards, both career highs. Benjamin is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but whoever the new Browns GM is would be wise to divert Dwayne Bowe's salary toward Benjamin. A potential 1-2 punch of Benjamin and Josh Gordon could be interesting next season, provided Gordon ever gets his act together.
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Candidate are plentiful for this dishonor, but Johnny Manziel takes the cake from Justin Gilbert, Dwayne Bowe, Joe Haden, or the atrocious Browns defense as a whole. Manziel took positive steps on the field but his off-field issues reared their ugly head again throughout the second half. Browns fans were hoping against hope that Manziel would be the franchise's long-lost answer to its quarterback question, but his end-of-season failures have most coming to the realization that Manziel is likely another wasted first-round pick.