The Cleveland Browns were down by 10 points, and they just watched their starting quarterback,
After missing two weeks because of a sprained right thumb suffered in a 14-6 loss at Baltimore on Sept. 15, Weeden completed 13 of 24 attempts for 197 yards and one touchdown without an interception, and led the team (3-2) to a 37-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills (2-3) at FirstEnergy Stadium Thursday night.
“It was basically, ‘Here we go,’” Weeden recalled. “This football team has relied on me. Whether or not I’ve been in there the past couple weeks, this team has relied on me. The guys around me played really (well) today.”
Down, 10-3, with time winding down in the first half, Weeden and the Browns faced a first-and-10 from their own 26-yard line. Undaunted by the pressure from Buffalo’s defense, Weeden engineered a 14-play, 74-yard drive that running back
“That’s what I have expected from him, and that doesn’t surprise me about him,” coach Rob Chudzinski said of Weeden. “For going through that and coming back after watching Brian do a great job for the couple of weeks that he was playing, and responding the way he did says a lot about Brandon.
“I expect them to go out, play and prepare and be prepared at that position to lead our team. It doesn’t matter who is there. I have said before, many times, that I have confidence in all three guys. The team has played well, and I think those guys have shown that in the last couple of weeks.”
Weeden was healthy enough to practice ahead of the Thursday Night Football game against the Bills, but Chudzinski elected to start Hoyer against the Bills on the short week. Undeterred by the decision, Weeden knew he had to do whatever he could to help the team.
“Regardless if I was the starter or not, still being the quarterback of this football team, eyes are still on you (to) see how you respond, how you react,” Weeden said. “I was upbeat the entire time, never let it bother me.
“It kind of lit a fire in me. I just need to get going, stay hungry. I couldn’t take any days off. I still needed to prepare, still needed to watch tape at night, just in case something unfortunate happens, like tonight.”
Hoyer was injured when he escaped the pocket and rushed for 11 yards on second-and-nine from the Browns’ 36-yard line. As Hoyer attempted to slide, he was hit by Buffalo linebacker Kiko Alonso and his right leg was pinned under the pile.
Hoyer was helped off the field by the Browns’ medical staff and taken to the locker room for further evaluation.
“He has a knee sprain,” Chudzinski said of Hoyer. “He’s going to get an MRI tomorrow and we’ll give you a further update on that.”
In addition to Hoyer, the Browns lost defensive lineman
“It’s serious enough that we are going to get an MRI on it tomorrow,” Chudzinski said.
WARD MAKES BIG PLAY
Late in the game, the Bills tried to pass their way to a come-from-behind victory, but Browns safety T.J. Ward stepped in front of a Jeff Tuel pass and returned the interception 44 yards for a touchdown to seal the victory for Cleveland. Tuel was in the lineup when EJ Manuel suffered a knee injury on a first-down run in the third quarter.
“Obviously, that was a huge play in the game,” Chudzinski said. “He has just been doing everything right. He has been playing physical football from his position, and I have been real pleased with what he has been doing from a leadership standpoint.
“He was a captain for this game, and came up with the big play.”