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Johnny Manziel makes AAF debut as Express top Iron in OT

One week after signing with the Memphis Express of the Alliance of American Football, former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel made his AAF debut with the team in an abbreviated stint.

Manziel was under center for three drives in the second and third quarters of Memphis's 31-25 comeback overtime win over the Birmingham Iron on Sunday evening. The quarterback finished 3 of 5 with 48 passing yards, 20 rushing yards, one sack and a failed two-point attempt.

Manziel spelled Express starter Brandon Silvers briefly in the second quarter, leading a drive deep into Iron territory. The quarterback picked up seven yards on an option run to start the march. Manziel then hit on his first AAF completion -- a 36-yard lob down the sideline to Pig Howard. The drive ended in a missed field goal.

After two more drives, Manziel was replaced for good by Silvers, who finished 24 of 35 with 266 passing yards and two scores and led Memphis to its comeback victory. Silvers made his first pro start on Sunday after starting four seasons under center at Troy. Former New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg is also on the Express' roster.

Before joining the AAF, Manziel spent time in the Canadian Football League, where he was traded to the Montreal Alouettes. Montreal made him a starter late in the 2018 season, though Manziel struggled in his eight-game showcase. The Alouettes released Manziel in early 2019 when CFL announced Manziel had "contravened the agreement which made him eligible to play in the league."

Manziel's player rights initially belonged to the San Antonio Commanders based on the AAF's college-allocation system. After the Commanders passed on the quarterback, the Express had the first chance to put in a waiver claim.

Among the other notable performers from Sunday night were Express WR Reece Horn (7 rec, 113 yards, TD), Iron RB Trent Richardson (16 att, 56 yards, TD) and Iron WR Amba Etta-Tawo (3 rec, 71 yards).

The Express moved to 2-5 with the win, while the Iron fell to 4-3. Birmingham is now two games back of the Orlando Apollos in the AAF Eastern Conference.

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