Browns roll to surprising comeback win vs. Vikings behind Brian Hoyer, special teams
For those of you (OK, those of us) who assumed that the Browns were tanking the 2013 season after trading Richardson to the Colts, we give you a very wild game in which Cleveland took a 24-17 lead over the Minnesota Vikings at the half and came back to win, 31-27. First, there was the play of quarterback Brian Hoyer, who replaced the injured Brandon Weeden for this game and now has a legitimate shot at keeping the starting spot. Hoyer finished the first half 14-of-23 for 174 yards and two touchdowns. There was a pretty pass to Josh Gordon for a 47-yard score in the first quarter, and then a 19-yarder to tight end Jordan Cameron, who has become one of the league's most productive and underrated targets. Hoyer trailed off in the second half, finishing 30-of-54 for 321 yards and adding three picks to his total.
However, Hoyer came through when it was most important, responding to Minnesota's 13 consecutive points in the second half by throwing a seven-yard touchdown pass to Cameron with 51 seconds left in the game. Cameron finished with 66 yards and three touchdowns on six catches.
That wasn't all the Browns did, though. Special teams coach Chris Tabor spent some extra time at the whiteboard this week. Not only did Cleveland execute a successful fake punt, but also the team's third touchdown came with 3:45 left in the half, when the plan seemed to be for Billy Cundiff to attempt a field goal. But at the snap, punter/holder Spencer Lanning threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Cameron (GIF below via SBNation).
Prior to the game, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Browns were open to trading Gordon, who missed the first two weeks of the season for a violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy. Gordon certainly made a case for staying in Cleveland Sunday, catching 10 passes for 146 yards and that first-quarter touchdown. In victory, the Browns proved that even if they are looking toward next season, they're very much about the here and now. The shocked Vikings would certainly agree.