On Thursday night, his number was called and Weeden delivered.
After spraining his right thumb in Week 2, Weeden watched as Hoyer, a lifelong Browns fan who began the season as Cleveland's No. 3 quarterback, led the team to two straight wins. Weeden got healthy enough to play but found himself demoted to a backup role, not what the first-round draft pick imagined after being named the starter in training camp.
He could have sulked or complained. Instead, he fought back.
"Whether I was the starter, eyes are still on you to see how you respond, to see how you react," he said. "I was upbeat the entire time and never let it bother me. Inside, it just kind of lit a fire."
"We don't care about history," Gordon said. "This is a new year and this is a new team."
Hoyer sustained a potentially serious right knee injury on a scramble in the first quarter, and Manuel was forced out after taking a helmet to his right knee on a run in the third. Neither returned and their injuries could impact both teams' seasons.
Following the game, Hoyer left the stadium on crutches with his knee immobilized. Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Hoyer has a sprained knee and will undergo an MRI on Friday. But the tone of Hoyer's teammates seemed to indicate that the 27-year-old, who was finally getting a chance to start in his fifth NFL season, might be sidelined for an extended period.
"He was playing great, man," said Weeden, who added that Hoyer was in the locker room following the game to celebrate with his teammates. "You hate to see it because he's a teammate and a friend. I tried to be as positive with him as I could."
Both of Hoyer's knees were bent awkwardly on the hit in front of Cleveland's bench, and several players and coaches yelled for a penalty to be called on Alonso. Hoyer stayed on the ground for several moments before he was assisted to a trainer's table. He limped to the locker room for tests and treatment.
Hoyer was attempting to become the first quarterback in team history to win his first three starts -- now he may not get back on the field this season.
"We definitely don't want to see a teammate go down like that, especially a guy like Hoyer," Gordon said. "He's a great guy and I hope he comes back healthy."
Manuel got hurt at the end of a 14-yard run when he was hammered near the sideline by Browns safety Tashaun Gipson. Manuel walked off the field attempted to get his knee loose on the sideline by jogging and riding a stationary bike. But after having his knee examined, he jogged to the locker room with two trainers.
"I was hoping we could 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."
Cundiff's second kick with 2:91 left put the Browns ahead 30-24, and Cleveland turned it over to their third-ranked overall defense.
Beyond the quarterbacks, both teams had one other key player go down with an injury.
Bills leading receiver Stevie Johnson injured his back in the first half and didn't return. Johnson caught two catches for 19 yards before he went out.
With Buffalo leading 24-17, Weeden found Gordon down the left sideline and the wide receiver made a juggling catch. Weeden started slowly but finished 13 of 24 for 197 yards.
"He did a great job," tight end Jordan Cameron said. "At first he was a little rusty. I think he shook that off and really got us going."
NOTES: Benjamin set a team record with 179 return yards, breaking the mark held by Eric Metcalf, who had 166 on Oct. 24, 1993, against Pittsburgh. ... Bills DE Mario Williams had two sacks, moving him into a tie for the league lead with 7.5. ... Bills WR T.J. Graham sustained a neck injury in the fourth but returned. ... Browns RB Chris Ogbonnaya left in the first half with a concussion and did not return. ... With three catches, Cameron has 33 this season, the most by a Browns TE in the first five games.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press