CLEVELAND (AP) — Case Keenum showed why Cleveland invested in him to back up Baker Mayfield, throwing a touchdown pass and leading the Browns to a 17-13 win over the New York Giants in an exhibition game Sunday.
Keenum tossed a 7-yard TD pass to wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge to end Cleveland’s opening possession. He finished 9 of 12 for 74 yards with an interception while playing most of the first half.
The Browns (2-0) rested Mayfield, running back Nick Chubb, All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett and most of their starters for the second straight week.
So did the Giants (0-2), who got a 1-yard TD plunge from Devontae Booker in the first half when both teams played second- and third-stringers.
New York’s No. 3 QB Brian Lewerke threw a TD pass to David Sills in the fourth quarter to pull the Giants within one. Instead of kicking the PAT, New York coach Joe Judge went for 2, but the Browns stuffed running back Gary Brightwell at the line.
The Giants had another late chance, but rookie safety Richard LeCounte III intercepted Lewerke in the end zone on the final play.
Keenum has made 62 career starts, and the 33-year-old’s experience gives Browns coach Kevin Stefanski a solid insurance policy in case Mayfield gets hurt or he’s needed for clean-up duty.
Cleveland signed Keenum to a three-year, $18 million free agent contract in 2020. It seemed pricey at the time, but his relationship with Stefanski — they were together in 2017 with Minnesota — and his value in mentoring Mayfield made it worthwhile.
The preseason matchup concluded a four-day visit by the Giants, who practiced against the Browns for two consecutive days earlier this week.
The joint workouts were heated and the teams refrained from fighting during the sessions before Browns cornerback Troy Hill and Shepard squared off after Friday’s practice.
Hill was one of the few Cleveland regulars who played, perhaps as punishment for throwing punches.
For the second consecutive game, Stefanski kept his starters on the sideline.
Judge followed suit, resting QB Daniel Jones and most of his first-teamers with the exception of his revamped offensive line, which needs extra work.
Judge plans to treat next week’s preseason game at New England as a “dress rehearsal” for the opener.
Rather than try a chip-shot field goal, Stefanski had the Browns go for it on fourth down and Keenum connected with Hodge, who is fighting for one of the final spots on Cleveland’s roster.
Giants backup quarterback Mike Glennon then led a 75-yard scoring drive capped by Booker launching into the end zone.
Browns kicker Chase McLaughlin, who is pushing Cody Parkey for the job, booted a 49-yard field goal with 2:29 left.
McLaughlin and Parkey both made their extra-point tries.
Browns: CB Greedy Williams can’t stay healthy, sustaining a groin injury. It’s the latest medical issue for Williams, who missed all of 2020 with a nerve injury in his shoulder and left Friday’s practice with a migraine. … LB Montrel Meander was carted off in the third quarter with an ankle injury.
FirstEnergy Stadium was allowed to be at capacity for the first time since the regular-season finale in 2019. Only 12,000 fans were permitted inside the 65,000-seat stadium last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Browns: Stefanski may finally play his starters in a visit to Atlanta on Aug. 29 in a nationally televised game.