Who needs Trent Richardson or Brandon Weeden anyway? (And for that matter, who needs an actual kicker?)
Rob Chudzinski earned his first NFL victory as a head coach, as his Cleveland Browns shockingly outlasted the Minnesota Vikings, 31-27, with an array of passes, trick plays and luck.
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Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, with one start under his belt entering the game, attempted 54 passes and was mostly excellent considering the circumstances, with 321 passing yards and three touchdowns, even with the expected mistakes.
Another hat tip goes to punter Spencer Lanning, who punted extremely well, threw for a touchdown and kicked the game-capping extra point when Billy Cundiff was injured mid-game. No doubt Lanning won a Punt, Pass and Kick contest as a kid.
The Browns needed this. They were openly questioned by much of the NFL literati this week after dealing Richardson (who rushed for a TD on his first carry with the Indianapolis Colts) and letting leak rumors that half of their offense also was on the trade block. Hoyer stepped up in a tough spot, but he also was helped by the return from suspension of Josh Gordon, who caught a 47-yard touchdown to open the Browns' scoring.
Although the Browns took control in the first half, they started to give it back in the second when Hoyer threw two of his three picks. And without a competent rushing attack, he came under fire, taking three sacks.
The stats show that the Browns ran for 103 yards on 17 carries. But a closer look reveals that 22 of those yards came on a Gordon end around and 34 more came on a fake punt by defensive back Josh Aubrey. (An aside: That was longer than any run Richardson had in his one-plus year with the Browns.) New running back Willis McGahee, signed to take Richardson's roster spot, rushed right times for nine yards.
It was a weird game. The Browns also faked a field goal that totally caught the Vikings napping in the first half, going to tight end Jordan Cameron. And speaking of Cameron, he's quickly going from unknown to Ozzie Newsome's brother of another mother. With three touchdown receptions — including the game-winner with 51 seconds left — and now five on the season, Cameron is quickly introducing himself to the rest of the league as a star.
And the Browns are quickly dispelling the notion that they are punting for 2014. This was a statement — and a gutsy — win for Chudzinski's squad.