Browns stay afloat in AFC North with win over Bucs

It wasn't pretty, but the Cleveland Browns are 5-3 after knocking off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 22-17 at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday. Our takeaways:

  1. No team is winning uglier than the Browns. Sitting at 5-3 for the first time in seven seasons, Cleveland squeaked by the Bucs despite a washed-up ground game and another hot-and-cold effort by Brian Hoyer. We thought the Browns passer would be benched at halftime for Johnny Manziel, but Hoyer fought through his two-interception afternoon to become the first Browns quarterback to throw for 200-plus yards in each of Cleveland's first eight games since Brian Sipe in 1983. It wasn't pretty, but Hoyer -- who also tossed two touchdowns -- does enough weekly to keep the gig.
  1. Mike Glennon leaves plenty to be desired, but Tampa's young quarterback made his share of plays downfield. He punctured Cleveland's secondary for throws of 34, 31, 27 and 22 yards, including a pair of scoring passes to rookie Mike Evans. Glennon also tossed an outrageous first-half pick that saw him badly overthrow Evans to erase a possible scoring drive. Unless Glennon fends off Josh McCown and shines down the stretch, Tampa remains a candidate to draft another quarterback.
  1. The Bucs leaned heavily on Bobby Rainey. With Charles Sims and Doug Martin ruled inactive, Tampa's second-year back tallied 87 rushing yards and another 34 through the air against a Browns front seven that struggled with Rainey's elusive footwork.
  1. Across the way, panic over Cleveland's ground game is justified. After ranking third in the league in rushing over their first five tilts, the Browns are averaging just 1.9 yards per carry since Pro Bowl center Alex Mackbroke his leg in Week 6. Against Tampa, Cleveland lost the battle in the trenches and struggled to squeeze out 50 yards on 28 attempts. Fill-in center Nick McDonald was toyed with by Gerald McCoy as the Bucs' All-Pro defensive tackle pushed McDonald around in the run game and tossed him to the grass like a rag doll en route to Tampa's first of three sacks on the day.
  1. Bucs fans can feel fine about the play of Mike Evans. He's stuck in a downtrodden offense, but the rookie wideout used his 6-foot-5 size to dial up 124 yards and two touchdowns off a team-leading seven receptions. He doesn't boast the electricity of Sammy Watkins, but Evans has emerged as a matchup nightmare for smaller corners.
  1. Browns fans are usually pondering the draft by November, but Cleveland is four days away from their biggest showdown in years: A Thursday night divisional grudge match with the Bengals.

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