Browns-Vikings: What we learned
MINNEAPOLIS - Weren't the Browns supposed to have given up?
Many thought the Vikings' game against Cleveland, in the wake of this week's trade of running back Trent Richardson, with the Browns playing third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer, would be a gimme.
Instead, the Browns got 'em.
Hoyer led the Browns on a 55-yard game-winning drive that ended with his 7-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Cameron with 51 seconds left - Cameron's third scoring reception of the game - to give Cleveland a 31-27 victory over Minnesota in a game pitting two winless teams.
Hoyer shook off three interceptions and a difficult third quarter to lead the game-winning drive against a Vikings secondary missing injured cornerbacks Chris Cook (groin), A.J. Jefferson (leg) and safety Jamarca Sanford (hamstring).
Hoyer finished the game 30-for-54 for 321 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Receiver Josh Gordon, in his first game back after suspension, had 16 catches for 146 yards. Cameron finished with six receptions for 66 yards.
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder completed 25 of 42 passes for 228 yards and ran for two touchdowns. But the Vikings offense wasn't able to overcome his two turnovers - a fumble and an interception - and a pair of costly special teams lapses.
What the Browns said
"Coach talked about guys making plays, and I think a lot of us had that mindset that we are going to be the guy to make the play. A lot of guys made big plays on that last drive, and it's just a matter of believing in Brian and believing in ourselves." - Browns tight end Jordan Cameron, who caught three touchdown passes, including the game-winner with 51 seconds left in the game.
What the Vikings said
"It is frustrating. I do not think any team thinks they will come into the season and be 0-3. I especially did not think it, but yet here we sit, scratching our heads at why we're 0-3. Bottom line is we have to figure it out and win next week." - Vikings defensive end Brian Robison, who had a sack and two tackles for loss.
What we learned about the Browns
1. The Browns sure missed wide receiver Josh Gordon. Returning after serving a two-game suspension, Gordon was almost unguardable. He had career highs in both catches (10) and receiving yardage (146). He also caught a 47-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter after freezing Vikings cornerback A.J. Jefferson with a stutter-step.
2. The Cleveland front seven continues to be the team's strength. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was held to 88 yards on 25 carries and quarterback Christian Ponder was harassed all day. He was sacked six times, intercepted once and lost a forced fumble.
What we learned about the Vikings
1. The Vikings' lack of depth at defensive back was completely exposed. After losing starting safety Jamarca Sanford and cornerback Chris Cook, the Vikings were picked apart by Brian Hoyer, who was making just his second career NFL start. Hoyer passed for 321 yards, and was 60-for-11 for 55 yards on the game-winning touchdown drive.
2. The Vikings' offensive line - which returned intact from last season - continues to struggle. Quarterback Christian Ponder was sacked six times, harassed on countless other plays and running back Adrian Peterson had no room to run. Of the Vikings' 134 rushing yards, Ponder had 46 of them, many on scrambles avoiding pressure.