DENVER (AP) - First, quarterback Brandon Weeden was hurt. Then, running back Trent Richardson left the game as well. Two injuries in the second half of a 34-12 loss to Denver on Sunday turned another long afternoon into something much worse for the Cleveland Browns.
Their two rookies - the backbone of this franchise's future - went out, Weeden with an injury to his right shoulder and Richardson with one to his left ankle. Coach Pat Shurmur said it was too early to evaluate the severity of the injuries.
But it slowed a bit of the late-season momentum the Browns (5-10) had gained with a three-game winning streak, that has been replaced by a two-game losing streak. "Our record (stinks) and everybody is disappointed,'' defensive back Joe Haden said.
"Every week it seems like you lose a game and you try to explain why it happened, that you just lost. We need to do better. We just need to win. We can't keep coming here talking all the same.''
Weeden was hurt when he couldn't avoid the heavy rush and went down hard as Von Miller recorded the sack. Until then, Weeden was having a so-so game. Sure, Weeden was just 12 of 19 for 104, but he didn't throw any interceptions or do anything to really hurt the Browns against the Broncos (12-3), who've won 10 straight.
As he made his way to the shower following the game, Weeden responded, "I'm all right,'' when asked about his injury. More vexing was Richardson's ailment. Many were wondering this: Just why was the team's top offensive threat in a game long over anyway?
After all, there were just 50 seconds left. On the play, Colt McCoy - who was filling in for Weeden - appeared to fall at the feet of Richardson after being hit by defensive back Mike Adams. "To be honest, I didn't know until we got in here,'' McCoy said of the injury to Richardson. "I don't remember what play it was on.''
When told he may have been the one to roll up on Richardson's ankle, McCoy looked stunned. "Oh,'' he said. "I was just trying to not get knocked out.'' Richardson was taken for X-rays after the game and as he gathered up his gear, before disappearing into the training room, said the ankle wasn't broken. "Yeah, I'll be all right,'' Richardson said. Richardson is having quite a season, too, breaking one rookie record of Hall of Famer Jim Brown after another.
Richardson had 53 yards rushing against a stout Broncos defense to give him 950 for the season, which is 8 more than Brown had in 1957. Not bad considering he's been dealing with sore ribs most of the season. Richardson needs just 50 yards next week at Pittsburgh to reach 1,000 for the season, but it remains to be seen if he'll be healthy enough to play.
Same with Weeden, who needs one passing TD to tie Tim Couch for most by a Browns rookie. About the lone bright spot for the Browns was the play of McCoy, who hadn't thrown a pass all season until Sunday.
Pressed into duty, McCoy threw a TD pass to Greg Little and finished 9 of 17 for 79 yards. But McCoy also threw quite a few passes into the ground and was sacked four times. "I was excited to get out there,'' McCoy said. "We hope as a team that Brandon is OK. You never want to see anybody go down. We hope Trent is all right.
"We were pretty far behind at that point when I got in. I assumed we'd start throwing the ball.'' McCoy started slow, but soon found his stride. "Took a couple of series getting used to the pocket,'' he said. "Hadn't had any reps, hadn't sit back there in a while. I maybe missed a couple of throws early.'' So, will McCoy start next weekend? "We're jumping way ahead here,'' Shurmur said. "These injuries haven't even been fully evaluated yet.''
The Browns' defense lost yet another member of their secondary when Sheldon Brown left with a concussion The veteran was hurt when he collided with Broncos receiver Brandon Stokley late in the second quarter. Brown was trying to cover Demaryius Thomas over the middle of the field when he bumped into Stokley, who drew an offensive pass interference penalty.
Brown stayed down before being helped to the bench. Earlier, Brown allowed two TDs despite having good coverage. He gave up a 22-yard score to Thomas, who made a spectacular catch in the back of the end zone, and another on a 10-yard catch by Eric Decker as the Broncos wideout snared it away from Brown. "Sheldon had his hand on the ball on one of them,'' cornerback Buster Skrine said. "The receiver just hauled it in and made a good catch. Peyton put it on the money.'' Manning does that a lot. He finished with 339 yards passing and three touchdowns. It's the 72nd time in Manning's career he's thrown at least three TD passes in a regular season game. "They executed, we didn't,'' defensive lineman Frostee Rucker said. "They executed and we came up quite short.''
Notes: Browns K Phil Dawson connected on a season-long 53 yard field goal. ... The Browns have lost 10 straight to the Broncos.