Rapid Reaction: Cleveland Browns
October, 3, 2013
By Pat McManamon | ESPN.com
CLEVELAND -- A few thoughts on the Cleveland Browns' 37-24 win over the Buffalo Bills at FirstEnergy Stadium:
What it means: Brandon Weeden regained the Browns' quarterback job in the worst possible way -- through an injury to Brian Hoyer. Hoyer was injured just more than three minutes into Thursday's victory over the Bills when both his knees caught awkwardly under him as he was attempting to slide at the end of a run. The initial diagnosis was a right-knee injury, and NFL.com reported during the game Hoyer would need an MRI. That put Weeden back in the game. The carousel that has been the Browns quarterback situation since 1999 keeps right on turning, and right now it appears Weeden will be riding the lead pony.
Stock watch: The Browns moved over .500 for the first time since the third game of the 2011 season. That has to help a team trying to find itself. If anyone benefitted from the night, it was Weeden, who missed two games with a thumb injury and seemed to have lost his job. He finished with a quarterback rating of 95.3 and took steps toward re-establishing himself.
Private Benjamin: Browns punt returner Travis Benjamin had as much to do with the result as any player. Benjamin set up Cleveland's first score, Billy Cundiff's 30-yard field goal, with a 57-yard return, then scored its second touchdown with a 79-yard return. By game’s end, Benjamin had broken Eric Metcalf's team record (166 yards in 1993) for punt return yards in a game, finishing with 179. Benjamin is too small to contribute regularly on offense, but his quickness and speed are extremely dangerous in the return game.
Defense does it: With an assist from Jeff Tuel. One thing that can be said is that the Browns' backup quarterback is better than Buffalo’s. Once Tuel got in the game, the Bills got little done. In the final two minutes, the Browns secured the win when T.J. Ward intercepted a Tuel pass and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown.
What’s next: The Browns get a 10-day break before finishing the last of three games in a row at home, with the Detroit Lions visiting Cleveland. The stakes get a little higher, as the Browns go from Tuel with no Stevie Johnson to Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.