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Hoyer helps Browns stun Vikings 31-27 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, September 23, 2013 12:00 AM

By DAVE CAMPBELL

Associated Press

 

MINNEAPOLIS — The young running back was traded away, the third-stringer was picked to start at quarterback and Cleveland’s jaded fan base was already pushing this week for the first pick in next year’s draft.

The Browns haven’t given up on the season, though.

Minnesota’s might be slipping away.

Jordan Cameron caught three touchdown passes, including the go-ahead grab in the back of the end zone with 51 seconds left, and the Browns kept the Vikings winless with a 31-27 victory Sunday.

Brian Hoyer threw for three scores in his second career start and the Browns (1-2) became the latest team to torch Minnesota’s struggling secondary, which lost top cornerback Chris Cook to a groin injury in the first quarter. Hoyer overcame three interceptions to throw for 321 yards, going 30-for-54. Josh Gordon had 10 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown in his season debut and Cameron had six receptions for 66 yards.

Christian Ponder ran for two touchdowns for the Vikings (0-3) but threw an interception, lost a fumble and took his sixth sack on the final play of the game. The Vikings went 3-and-out six times, twice in the fourth quarter when they could’ve put the game away.

Ponder almost hit Jerome Simpson in a crowd at the goal line on the penultimate play but the Vikings didn’t get closer than the 34.

After scoring 16 points over the first two games, dealing 2012 first-round draft pick Trent Richardson to Indianapolis and putting Hoyer in for the injured Brandon Weeden, the Browns looked finished. They were behind 7-0 after a long Vikings touchdown drive and a 45-second possession of their own forced a punt.

But they held Adrian Peterson to 88 yards and one score on 25 rushes, used a fake punt and a fake field goal in the first half to build a lead and kept the Vikings from scoring after Hoyer’s first two interceptions. The third one, by Erin Henderson, set up Ponder’s scramble for 8 yards to tie the game late in the third quarter.

The Vikings got Blair Walsh’s second field goal of the game with 10:47 remaining but they stalled at the 12 and missed an opportunity there, too. The defense held the Browns without scoring for seven straight possessions but like last week in the 1-point loss at Chicago, faltered on the final drive when the failure stung the most..

The Browns started at their 45 with 3:21 left and finished the commanding march with a 7-yard pass by Hoyer to the corner for Cameron, the budding standout tight end Cameron who has 20 catches for 267 yards and four scores already this year.

Hoyer, who played for New England and Arizona after a nondescript career at Michigan State, grew up in a suburb of Cleveland rooting for the Browns. So he knew how the fans were feeling after the Richardson trade.

Hoyer, whose wife is due with the couple’s second child on Oct. 21, joked he hoped he didn’t send her into labor early with the wild finish. Trailing by three, the Browns could’ve settled for a short tying field goal. But kicker Billy Cundiff was hurting with a quadriceps problem, so that wasn’t a guarantee.

NOTES: Punter/holder Spencer Lanning threw the TD pass to Cameron on the fake FG in the second quarter. He also kicked the last extra point, with Cundiff hurting. According to the NFL, Lanning became the first player since 1968 with a punt, extra point and TD pass in one game. … Referee Bill Leavy mistakenly penalized the Vikings after coach Leslie Frazier tried to challenge a ruling on a muffed punt in the second quarter. Minnesota should have lost a timeout instead.

 

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