Brian Hoyer, Browns historically great in road victory

  • By Nick Shook
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Well, we've reached a new low. Road teams struggled mightily in Week 5, going 3-10 on Sunday, and if it weren't for a record-setting comeback, Alex Henery being the Detroit Lions' only option at kicker, and Dick LeBeau's defense confusing a rookie quarterback late in a close game, we might have had our first winless week for those away from home. Luckily, the traveling stars of the week made it a little bit respectable for road teams as a whole.

Whether it was room service food, the effect of a hostile crowd or uncomfortable beds (never at a Courtyard Marriott, of course), something threw off the road squads. But despite slim pickings, there were still some standout performers. Here are the week's best.

Greatest on the Road ...

Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns

Let's be honest: Brian Hoyer may have sat behind Tom Brady for a portion of his career, but he isn't Tom Brady, and probably never will be. But let's take a quick look at Hoyer's final stat line: 21-37, 292 yards, three touchdowns, one interception.

Pretty good numbers for a guy who has spent most of his career as a backup, right?

Hoyer and the Browns' offense had the odds stacked high against them. Trailing 28-3 in the second quarter, they were essentially left for dead -- after all, no team had ever overcome such a large deficit on the road -- and they showed no signs of impending improvement.

Hoyer helped change that last line forever.

The Browns' quarterback tossed Cleveland back into the game, connecting with Jim Dray on a 1-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 28-10 just before half. The former Michigan State Spartan kept up the comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, finding Travis Benjamin wide open in the endzone for a 17-yard score with 6:57 to play.

An untimely interception put the ball back in the hands of the Titans, but Cleveland's defense came up big with a stop on fourth and inches to give the ball back to the Browns with 3:03 left. Less than two minutes later, Hoyer hit Benjamin again in the back of the endzone for the go-ahead score, completing the largest road comeback in NFL history.

Hoyer might never be Brady, but much like the future Hall of Fame quarterback, he's solid in the clutch -- so much that in his seven starts as the Browns' signal-caller, he's 5-2 and has three game-winning drives in the final two minutes.

Also considered ...

Kyle Orton, Buffalo Bills

As a whole, the Bills aren't that bad of a football team. What has been bad, however, is their quarterback play. Anyone with two working eyes could see that EJ Manuel is not where Buffalo would like him to be in terms of his development, and it was very clear they needed a new man under center in the short term.

Mustached Kyle Orton stepped up to fill that role, but early on, it was ugly.

Orton recovered though, doing enough to rally the Bills from a 14-point deficit and post a final stat line of 30-for-43 passing for 308 yards, a touchdown and that awful pick-six.

Following Alex Henery's missed 50-yard field goal attempt with 26 seconds remaining in the fourth -- a blunder that ultimately cost him his job -- Orton and the Bills took the field. Luckily for the grizzled veteran, he has a brand new Ferrari lining up at receiver in Sammy Watkins. This incredible catch -- seriously, follow the link -- with 14 seconds left put Buffalo in position to attempt a 58-yard field goal, a daunting task for most kickers.

No worries for the man with the mullet, Dan Carpenter. The big-legged kicker drilled the football through the uprights, drove the usually stoic Orton into a euphoric frenzy and sent the Bills back to Western New York a winner.

Marcell Dareus, Buffalo Bills

Remember how this week was slim pickings for great performers on the road? Well, that's how Dareus makes this list -- well, that, and his three sacks on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Detroit castoff Jim Schwartz resurfaced with Buffalo's coaching staff as defensive coordinator in 2014, and it appears as though he's still bitter about how the Lions let him go. Sometimes, revenge can be both the best motivator and the best medicine, and on Sunday, it was also the best source of inspiration for defensive gameplanning. Schwartz took his years as the head coach of the Lions and used it to Buffalo's advantage, devising a strategy that harassed Stafford all afternoon, bringing the passer down six times.

Dareus led the way with three of those takedowns, and the defense tallied seven quarterback hurries and one additional hit on Stafford. The unit then carried Schwartz off the field, something he had been dreaming of since OTAs.



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