Never Say Never Moment of the Week: Another Look  

 

Cleveland Browns overcome much to get stunning victory

  • By Jim Reineking NFL.com
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This is the backstory to one of the great moments of Week 3, Brian Hoyer's game-winning touchdown pass to Jordan Cameron that gave the Cleveland Browns a stunning win over the Minnesota Vikings. The Browns' achievement, as well as Terence Newman's winning touchdown for the Cincinnati Bengals against the Green Bay Packers and Ryan Tannehill leading a Miami Dolphins rally over the Atlanta Falcons are nominees for the GMC Never Say Never Moment of the week. Cast your vote for the GMC Never Say Never Moments of Week 3.

Long before Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer -- normally the team's third-stringer, but a starter in place of the injured Brandon Weeden on Sunday -- hit tight end Jordan Cameron for the go-ahead score in the final minute of a thrilling 31-27 win over the Minnesota Vikings at the H.H.H. Metrodome, a series of significant events needed to transpire in order to set up the late-game heroics.

The first of which occured more than 72 hours before kickoff, when Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay sent out a rather attention-grabbing tweet that failed to get lost in the Twitter timeline wash. Fans and sports scribes alike attempted to figure out what the cryptic message meant. Not long after, it was announced that the Colts had acquired running back Trent Richardson from the Browns in a trade. It was a shocking development, and not exactly a popular move among Browns fans, many of whom thought the trade meant their beloved yet beleaguered team was tanking the season after just two weeks. Well, that's not exactly how things played out in the aftermath.

Here are the key moments before the moment:

Vikings open with score

The play: Running back Adrian Peterson capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.

The aftermath: It appeared that the rout that many predicted was on after the Vikings marched down the field on their first possession, but the Browns defense buckled down and ultimiately held Peterson to just 88 yards rushing in the game. The Browns defense recorded six sacks, too, which is a good number for those who own that unit in fantasy football.

Flash strikes

The play: The Browns tied up the game when Hoyer found wide receiver Josh Gordon for a 47-yard touchdown play.

The aftermath: This was Gordon's first appearance of the 2013 season after serving a two-game suspension. His return was pivotal, giving a Browns offense that was stagant through the season's first two weeks a necessary boost of tilt-the-field-quality athleticism. Gordon had a dominant performance, catching 10 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. His receiving yardage total was the most for a Browns player since Mohamed Massaquoi had 148 yards against the Bengals in 2009. Gordon's 10 receptions were the most for a Browns player since Kevin Johnson had 11 during a 2003 game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Tricks are a real treat

The play: Sporting a 17-14 lead, the Browns lined up for a field goal attempt. Instead of kicking, Browns punter Spencer Lanning -- the holder on the attempt -- tossed a touchdown pass to a wide open Cameron.

The aftermath: This was the second time that the Browns reached deep down into their little bag of tricks and discovered delightfully successful results. Earlier, the Browns triumphantly pulled off a fake punt, with little-known rookie defensive back Josh Aubrey running for 34 yards on that play. It should be noted that Aubrey finished Week 3 with more rushing yards than notables such as Danny Woodhead, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Pierre Thomas, Darren McFadden and C.J. Spiller. Lanning, meanwhile, became the first player since 1968 with a punt, extra point and touchdown pass in the same game (Sam Baker of the Philadelphia Eagles, vs. Dallas Cowboys).

Browns get sloppy

The play: With his team sporting a 24-14 lead, Browns return specialist Travis Benjamin muffed a catch on a punt. The Vikings recover at the Browns' 18-yard line.

The aftermath: Just when it appeared that the Browns might not only win but do so convincingly, the team started turning the ball over to the Vikings. Hoyer later threw three interceptions, which aided in the Vikings getting back into the game. The Browns -- 4-30 since their return from hiatus in 1999 when committing four or more turnovers -- would still manage to win for the first time since 2004 when turning the ball over four times.

The moment

The play: With less than a minute remaining in the game, Hoyer hit Cameron for the decisive touchdown.

The aftermath: After once holding that 24-14 lead, the Browns were now trailing 27-24. They hadn't scored since Lanning's successful fake field goal touchdown pass to Cameron, failing to produce points in seven consecutive possessions. The Browns' last best chance at victory (or, at least, tying the game) started at their own 45-yard line with 3:21 remaining in the game. Cleveland's commanding march culminated in the Hoyer-to-Cameron heroics. It gave first-year head coach Rob Chudzinski his first victory and was one of the most startling results in what turned out to be a wacky Week 3.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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