CLEVELAND — Sitting on the sideline, Johnny Manziel was angry and frustrated.
More importantly for the Browns, he held himself accountable.
Upset for throwing an interception late in the first half, Manziel vented by bashing a tablet on his head before recovering to throw a touchdown pass in the second half and leading Cleveland to a 24-10 win on Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers, ending the Browns’ seven-game losing streak.
“I probably overreacted a little bit,” Manziel said of his outburst.
Johnny Football finally accepted some blame.
Manziel passed for 270 yards, delivering a quality performance he and the Browns (3-10) desperately needed. He tossed a 2-yard TD pass to Gary Barnidge in the third quarter as Cleveland won for the first time since Oct. 11 and took some pressure off coach Mike Pettine.
Isaiah Crowell rushed for 145 yards and had two short TD runs for Cleveland, which won its first game in December since 2012.
The inept 49ers (4-9) allowed nine sacks and managed just 127 yards on offense before a 94-yard drive in garbage time.
“Maybe we did take them a little light,” said Niners linebacker Ahmad Brooks. “We got the win last week and maybe we got a little big headed.”
Manziel was back on the field after being benched two games by Pettine for partying during Cleveland’s bye week after he had promised not to be a distraction. The 23-year-old was thankful to get a second chance and made the most of it while giving the Browns hope he may still blossom into a franchise QB.
Manziel overcame his one glaring mistake, accurately found wide-open receivers and looked more like an NFL starter that at any point in his two seasons as a pro.
“I’ve only gotten to play six or seven games,” said Manziel, who went 21 for 31. “The number is starting to climb but for me, these mean a lot to me. I still have a lot to prove. I feel like I’m just getting started.”
Making his first start since throwing for a career-high 372 yards on Nov. 15 at Pittsburgh, Manziel was sharp in the first half with the exception of one bone-headed play.
With the Browns near midfield, Manziel was forced from the pocket and scrambled near the Browns sideline. But instead of running out of bounds or throwing the ball away, Manziel forced a pass over the middle that was intercepted by Niners safety Jaquiski Tartt, who returned it 25 yards.
Manziel stormed off the field and slammed his helmet to the ground. He took a seat, and when he reviewed the play on one of the sideline tablets, he saw that Barnidge had come open on the play. That’s when he had his temper tantrum.
“I probably shouldn’t have overreacted the way I did, but it’s the NFL and when those chances are there, you’ve got to make the most of them,” he said.
Pettine didn’t see the eruption and joked that Manziel “beat me to it then.”
Pettine wasn’t upset with the QB’s heated response.
“It was a natural reaction, he knew he messed up,” Pettine said. “It would bother me more if he just ‘whatever’ and walked off. If it’s towards himself over frustration from doing something bone-headed, I have no problem with it.”
Cleveland’s loss was tempered by the loss of wide receiver Brian Hartline, who broke his collarbone and is done for the season. Hartline had eight catches for 107 yards before getting hurt.
The 49ers did nothing well.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert was roughed up while throwing for 194 yards and a 6-yard TD to Jerome Simpson with 1:42 left. San Francisco was hurt by penalties, but the bigger issues were with blocking, tackling and overall execution.
The lone bright spot was kicker Phil Dawson’s return to Cleveland, where he played for 14 seasons. The 40-year-old kicked a 44-yard field goal and received a warm ovation from Browns fans after a video tribute was shown of him on the stadium’s scoreboards.
“I don’t think I have words to do it justice,” an emotional Dawson said afterward. “It’s a special day. I’ll never forget it.”