On Thursday night, his number is called and Weeden delivered.
Weeden came off the bench after Brian Hoyer injured his knee and rallied the Browns to a 37-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills, who also lost rookie starting quarterback EJ Manuel with a knee injury.
After spraining his right thumb in Week 2, Weeden watched as Hoyer, a lifelong Browns fan who started the season as the quarterback does not. Cleveland’s 3, led the team to two straight victories. Weeden got healthy enough to play but found himself demoted backup role, not what first – thought round draft pick after being named the starter in training camp.
He may sulked or complained. Instead, he fought back.
”If I was the starter, eyes still on you to see how you respond, to see how you react,” he said. ”I was increasing all the time and never let it bother me. On the inside, it just kind of firelight.”
Weeden threw a 37 – yard touchdown pass to Josh Gordon in the third quarter as the Browns (3-2) won their third straight and temporarily moved into sole possession of first place in the AFC North. This is the best Browns record after five games since they were 3-2 in 2001.
”We do not care about history,” Gordon said. ”It’s a new year and a new team.”
Safety T.J. Ward blocked rookie Jeff Tuel pass and returned it 44 yards for a TD with 1:44 left to end any comeback hopes of bills (2-3). Travis Benjamin had an electrifying 79 – yard TD punt return in the first half for Cleveland.
Hoyer sustained a potentially serious right knee injury in a scrimmage in the first quarter, and Manuel was forced out after taking a helmet to his right knee in a run in the third. Neither returned and their damage can affect both teams’ season.
Following the game, Hoyer left the stadium on crutches with his knee immobilized. Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Hoyer May sprained knee and will undergo an MRI on Friday. But the tone of Hoyer of teammates seemed to indicate that the 27 – year -old, who finally gets a chance to start his fifth NFL season, be sidelined for an extended period of time.
”He’s playing great, man,” said Weeden, who added that Hoyer is in the locker room following the game to celebrate his teammates. ”You Hate to see it because he’s a teammate and friend. I tried to be positive with him as I have previously.”
With the Browns trailing 7-0, Hoyer took off on a 11 – yard run and slide after calling for the first down when he was hit from the side by rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso.
Both Hoyer knee bent awkwardly on the hit in front of Cleveland in court, and several other players and coaches yelled for a penalty to be called Alonso. Hoyer stayed on the ground for several moments before he was helped to the trainer’s table. He limped to the locker room for tests and treatment.
Hoyer is trying to become the first quarterback in team history to win his first three starts – now he can not return to the field this season.
“We really do not want to see a teammate go down like that, especially someone like Hoyer,” Gordon said. ”He’s a great guy and I hope he is back healthy.”
CJ Spiller had a 54 – yard TD run and Fred Jackson had a pair of 1 – yard TD run for the bills, which could do nothing on offense once Manuel left.
Manuel got hurt at the end of a 14 – yard run when he hammered near the sideline by Browns safety Tashaun Gipson. Manuel walked off the field attempted to get his knee liberate the sideline by jogging and riding the bike idle. But after having his knee examined, he jogged into the locker room with two trainers.
Bills coach Doug Marrone said the doctor told him Manuel has a sprained knee and claim he will have an MRI.
”I’m hoping we can get him back, but they said it was a sprain and they shut him down,” Marrone said. ”He’s a tough kid. He took a shot. He was trying to score a touchdown.”
Billy Cundiff kicked field goals of 24 and 44 yards in the fourth quarter for the Browns, who overcame a 10-0 deficit and down 24-17 less than two minutes into the second quarter.
Second kick Cundiff with 2:91 left put the Browns ahead 30-24, and Cleveland turn it over to their third -ranked overall defense.
Beyond the quarterbacks, both teams had one other key players go down with an injury.
Bills leading receiver Stevie Johnson injured his back in the first half and did not return. Johnson caught two catches for 19 yards before he went out.
Browns defensive end Desmond Bryant was taken to the Cleveland Clinic in the third quarter after experiencing shortness of breath . Last year in Oakland, Bryant had to be hospitalized during a game with an irregular heartbeat, but returned to play the next week.
With Buffalo leading 24-17, Weeden found Gordon down the left sideline and the wide receiver made a juggling catch. Weeden started slow but finished 13 of 24 for 197 yards.
”He’s done a great job,” tight end Jordan Cameron said. ”At first he was a little rusty. I think he shook off and really got us going.”