Cleveland Browns beat Bills 37-24 despite losing Brian Hoyer

Joe Banner celebrates T.J. Ward's pick-six

Joe Banner celebrates T.J. Ward’s pick-six

I stayed positive after the Cleveland Indians lost their playoff game yesterday. I didn’t put any dire consequence on the results of the Browns game specifically due to the outcome of the previous night’s Tribe game.  Many of you – including our own TD – were certainly feeling it the crush of pressure on the football team, because of the baseball team just the same. I wasn’t. That is until about five minutes into the Browns game when Brian Hoyer’s right leg appeared to crumple underneath the weight of his and Bills linebacker Kiki Alonso’s weight. Hoyer was out and a wildly inaccurate and wide-eyed Brandon Weeden was in. I really prefer not to play into the cursed Cleveland sports fan stereotype, but at that moment, my confidence in the lack of metaphysical intervention with sports was badly shaken.

But then the Browns battled back. After trailing the first quarter 10-0, the Browns had 17 unanswered points in the second quarter. Ten points were scored by a field goal, and a plodding drive that culminated in a Willis McGahee rushing touchdown. Things still didn’t look especially great, until Travis Benjamin helped the offense out by showing a lot of individual ability in scoring on a 79 yard punt return to give the Browns a seven point halftime advantage 17-10.

Of course, it looked scary again for the Browns as they gave up what felt like their first big play to an opposing offense of the year. Think about that for a second. The Cleveland Browns defense, in game five, felt to this author as if they hadn’t given up a big play the entire season. I know that’s not exactly the case, but the feeling is real for a reason. C.J. Spiller had a 54 yard TD scoring run for the Bills to tie the game at 17. A big play like that could have crushed the Browns, but they wouldn’t let it happen.

Then the Browns knocked E.J. Manuel out of the game. Manuel took a hit near the sidelines and a million punchlines were born when his replacement’s name was Tuel – pronounced “tool.” The Browns might have gotten fortunate, but it matched their misfortune in losing their hot starter Brian Hoyer.

The Browns went down further as Tuel finished Manuel’s drive as Fred Jackson rushed for a TD after 54 yards. Weeden responded with a passing TD to Josh Gordon to tie it at 24. Billy Cundiff added two field goals to give the Browns a lead, and the Browns defense went back to work to try and secure the game. T.J. Ward put it away by reading Tuel’s eyes and getting a pick-six to make it 37-24.

Browns win and everyone feels good. Well, maybe except Brian Hoyer. Browns fans get to go home happy for the week, as they wait to wonder what the fate of Brian Hoyer’s knee might be. The Browns feared for torn ligaments and I’m sure Browns fans do as well. The discrepancy in speed of decision-making between Brian Hoyer and Brandon Weeden couldn’t have been more obvious after the injury. Good for Brandon Weeden – of course – in figuring out a way to get the job done, but you have to assume the Browns and their fans will all be hopeful for Brian Hoyer to be able to play as soon as possible again this season.

So there you have it. The Browns win 37-24 on a national stage. The team goes to 3-2 on the year for the first time since 2001. Cleveland rejoices and holds their breath to see what happens with Brian Hoyer.

  • Will

    Going to need to go get Freeman if Hoyer’s going to miss any amount of time. They have zero shot against quality opposition like Detroit, KC, and the Packers with Weeden under center. With the North as pedestrian as it is, no time to stand pat with a playoff spot there for the taking.

  • Bryan

    Weeden’s line looked OK by the end, but after seeing Hoyer in there and then going back to Weeden, it is clear just how slow Weeden’s decision-making is. Everything is a half-second late. Which cannot work in the NFL.

  • Brian Konrad

    Mora disapproves of your comment.

  • Will

    The AFC is nothing special outside of Denver. I don’t care what the past history of this team is, or what the national media said when they traded a mediocre RB. If the Browns get even so so QB play, they are good enough to win this division.

  • EZ

    A half-second is generous. I think he was a couple of seconds late on designed throws, including the one that went over Jordan in the endzone. When Jordan broke back he was barely past the defender but he was clearly expected the ball to be there and when it wasn’t he just kind of got lost jockeying for position waiting for the throw.

  • Robbie S

    And let’s not forget Bess saved his behind on that 3rd down throw. If Bess doesn’t reach back behind him to get a hand on the ball, it’s a quick INT and the boo birds come out in full.

  • deesh
  • deesh

    let’s try this again…

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Freeman might not be a bad idea…especially if Hoyer’s out for the season. They’d only need to pick him up for the rest of the season, right? Freeman was in the last year of his deal.

    I thinking like taking a chance on him more and more as I type this. Yes, he looked pedestrian, but that could be because his coach hated him. Plus, at this point, the Browns need bodies at the QB slot.

    You know what? Let’s do it. This team is in first place, and I truly believe with their nasty defense they just need some decent QB play to make it to the playoffs. Banner…make the call.

  • dimoko

    I hope Hoyer is OK. Weeden played great under the circumstances, but hopefully this will shut up the “he didnt have all of his weapons” talk about Weeden. He is just a few seconds slower than Hoyer and that makes all the difference. Weeded did a great job tonight, but Hoyer is the better QB

  • Ezzie Goldish

    I was among those saying let’s see weeden with weapons, and it definitely does make a difference to have Gordon out there. That said, when everyone in the stands around you seems to have a better internal clock saying to get rid of the ball that’s a big issue. Really that was the only problem with his game last night: not throwing some balls away. He also didn’t get a ball out the back of the end zone once on a throw away. Otherwise made good decisions and throws.

    Watch NFL network’s post game interview of weeden, though. They asked what he learned watching hoyer and he says that it’s getting rid of the ball quicker, something he told the line in game he wasn’t doing well enough. Thought that was interesting.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Also: it was so comforting to see 66 at right guard last night. I literally jumped for joy.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    He wasn’t in good position there. Weeden looked like he was trying to see if Cameron could get better position and then just shot for a less risky high jump ball. Also, pretty sure the whole stadium read that play. “Hmm, why are there three wide on one side and Cameron on the other?”

  • mgbode

    at 3-0 (since he started the game), Hoyer is the ONLY Browns QB with a winning record since 1999. that includes every single random spot-starter we have used in that time.

    hope everything is okay with him because that’s a cruddy way to end a dream.

  • mgbode

    Ok, like Craig (and everyone else), I was really, really worried about how absolutely horrific Weeden looked in the early stages of the game. He looked as bad or worse than ANY QB we have been subjected to watching. Then, he settled down after Norv gave him a couple long throws and he was much better. I give some credit to Norv there to let him just throw-out his nerves there.

  • arnold_palmer

    Joe Banner : “Brandon Weeden looks like a legitimate NFL QB”

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Same applies to his 2-0 start anyways…because he’s the first QB to do this for the Browns since Mark Rypien (1994.)

    So even if you don’t credit him with yesterday’s win…he’s still off to the best start (From a W/L perspective) than any QB since the return.

  • BenRM

    Why can’t the Browns have nice things? 🙁

    We finally have a competent QB and he goes down with a season ending injury after a great first down run.

  • mgbode

    can we give credit to Benjamin for the W? I think he earned it the most.

    57yd punt return to Bills 31. Browns FG.
    79yd punt return TD.
    6yd punt return to Bills 32. Browns FG (and Powell couldn’t try to boom it from his endzone for fear Benjamin would return another)

    Makes him directly responsible for 13 Browns points. Ward was responsible for another 7 points. That leaves 17 for the actual offense to have gone on real drives to score.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    I’m all for this! Fortunately, this was clearly a total-team win. Our defense was a bit off yesterday (31 rushes for 150 yards…even if 54 came in that one play by CJ Spiller). The Bills should have given Tashard Choice more carries..he seemed to be able to pick up good chunks of yards against us.

    Ultimately, it was an ugly game. But I’ll take my wins, no matter how ugly they seem.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Is it actually season ending?

  • Natedawg86

    Dude can’t throw over the middle. Onle good throws I saw him make were fades

  • Natedawg86


  • BenRM

    Early reports indicate multiple torn ligaments in his knee

  • Jason Hurley

    I believe Cleveland could pick him up for the veteran minimum and TB is on the hook for the rest of his salary (plus the cap hit).

  • mgbode

    all games between the Browns & Bills are ugly. gladly accept the win as well.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    UGH…poor guy

  • mgbode

    the Little/Gordon deep passes were not fades.
    the comebacker to Little was not a fade.

    I agree he has terrible timing. any slant, in, or double-move was just horrific with no accuracy.

  • Natedawg86

    He did have some good throws, but i just don’t have any confidence in him. He is border line hard to watch football. I will be rooting for the Browns, but I was actually excited when Hoyer was in there. He makes decisions so much faster. I will get to see the next one in person. Making the trip from MD.

  • mgbode

    there is no doubt it was more fun to watch Hoyer at QB.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    exactly. it’s a low-risk move and cheap with plenty of upside.