It was a slow start for the Colts, but in the end it was a gritty affair by Andrew Luck and the offense to pull out a huge 25-24 win over the Browns to push their record to 9-4 on the year.
Luck’s biggest moment came with :32 seconds left when he threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton to clinch the win.
“He just had that fire in his eyes,” Colts running back Daniel Herron said.
Luck had helped the Browns build a 14-point lead with his fumble that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown, and by throwing an interception returned by rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert for a TD.
Starting at his own 10 with 3:46 left, Luck took the Colts on an 11-play, 90-yard drive.
“Some real bonehead mistakes,” Luck said. “Can’t do that, but it feels good to win on the road, in this fashion against a very good team. Made enough plays when it mattered just to get it done.”
Before Luck, who threw two picks and was sacked three times, connected on his second TD pass to Hilton, Herron picked up 2 yards on a critical fourth down to keep the drive going.
Luck finished with 294 yards passing, picking up 208 in the second half.
The Browns offense didn’t do much to help the team, as despite getting two defensive scores, starter Brian Hoyer was awful for most of the day.
Cleveland picked up only three first-downs after halftime and missed a chance to host Cincinnati next week with the AFC North lead on the line.
Hoyer went just 14 of 31 passes for 140 yards and threw two interceptions.
“I have to play better,” Hoyer said. “With each game that goes by, there are less and less opportunities to figure out how this season is going to go.”
Down 24-19 and time running out, Luck completed a 27-yard pass to rookie Donte Moncrief on third down, and the Colts got 35 yards when Browns cornerback Buster Skrine was called for interference on the next play.
Herron, though, made the drive’s biggest play. On fourth down at the 3, he ran right and was initially stopped at the line. But Herron spun away from the pile and cut inside safety Donte Whitner for the first down.
“That was all Boom Herron right there,” Luck said. “That was a great run and probably one of the best half-a-yard runs I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Adam Vinatieri kicked a pair of field goals for Indianapolis, which trailed 14-7 at halftime and by 14 early in the third.
Cleveland’s defense beat up the Colts in the first half, as they held Indy to 117 total yards and harassing Luck on nearly every throw.