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'Poised' Hoyer earned trust of team

Posted Sep 23, 2013

Quarterback Brian Hoyer earned the confidence and trust of his team before engineering a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer had thrown two interceptions and been sacked three times in the second half against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, but as he stepped onto the field down by three points with 3:21 to play, the veteran signal-caller had the support of his teammates and coaches.

Hoyer responded to and rewarded their confidence by engineering an 11-play, 55-yard drive that he capped off with a seven-yard touchdown to tight end Jordan Cameron in the left back corner of the end zone, which sealed the 31-27 come-from-behind win.

“That was the belief that I had in him and the hunch on him,” coach Rob Chudzinski said. “We saw it in the preseason. Again, I’ve mentioned it before and I know it was the fourth preseason game, but he was able to do something very similar in that game.

“Looking at the guys’ eyes on the sideline, all of them, the whole offense and the group, they believed. When I saw them, when I looked at them, talked to them and talked about how much we would enjoy this after this series was over, and we scored the touchdown, the looks I got back from those guys, I knew we had a great shot at doing that.”

Chudzinski was particularly impressed by Hoyer’s ability to forget his struggles in the second half, and lead the game-winning drive in front 63,672 Vikings fans in Mall of America Field at the H.H.H. Metrodome.

“You have to be able to do that at that position in this league,” Chudzinski said. “No matter what kind of game you’re having, so many of these games come down to the end, and you have to be able to do that and perform in the end and have a short memory of what has happened.

“Guys being accurate is one thing, and then, putting the ball in a place where receivers can catch it and do things after the catch is another. I think all of the guys have grown and gotten better in that area. When you get to the elite level, that’s the thing they’re able to do better than the guys that are just real good guys.”

When the dust had settled on the Browns’ victory, Hoyer had completed 30 of 54 attempts for 321 yards and three touchdowns against three interceptions. He spread the ball out to six different receivers, including a game-high 10 passes to wide receiver Josh Gordon for 146 yards and a 47-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

“I thought it was a gutsy performance,” Chudzinski said. “He had some turnovers in the second half, a couple throws I know he would like to have back, but that didn’t faze him. When we needed to rise up to the occasion on the last drive, he was able to do that and make the plays that, ultimately, helped us win the game.”

Cameron added, “He was very poised. That’s a great word to describe how he played. He had a rough third quarter, but led our team to a touchdown. It just shows a lot about him. With the opportunities he had, he took advantage of them.”

DETERMINED PLAYERS

Chudzinski said determination shown by the players was what made possible the Browns’ fourth-quarter comeback.

“This is a group, as I mentioned before, they respond to any sort of challenge, the things we’re coaching them to do,” Chudzinski said. “They really, really take to heart and work on those things. To have some success, it was no surprise for that group, and for us that we have success. It reinforces the things that we‘re coaching and teaching and expect to continue. Again, it’s one week, one game and we’re on to the next game after today.”

INJURY UPDATES

Due to injuries, the Browns lost three players during the game, kicker Billy Cundiff, defensive lineman Billy Winn and outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard.

Cundiff suffered a quadriceps strain, while Winn also experienced an injury to his quad. Sheard has a sprained knee.

All three players will be evaluated over the next two days to see how their injuries respond to treatment, according to Chudzinski.

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