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.