Cleveland Browns shock NFL, stunning Vikings in week three

After multiple personnel changes on offense, the Browns set a new standard with their best play all season

David Hoffman, Contributing Reporter

The Browns forgot to follow the script laid out for them by pundits everywhere last Sunday, stunning the Minnesota Vikings and their home crowd with a 31-27 victory. Earlier in the week, the Browns traded starting running back Trent Richardson to Indianapolis, seemingly leaving the team devoid of talent on offense.

The dilemma was compounded by an injury to starting quarterback Brandon Weeden, who had to sit out the game after suffering a thumb injury the previous week. Replacing Weeden was journeyman Brian Hoyer, who had previously started only one NFL game in his career.

Meanwhile the Vikings featured Adrian Peterson, who won the NFL MVP award last season and is universally regarded as the best running back in the league. From fans to pundits and everyone in between, the outcome did not seem to be in doubt; Peterson would burn the Browns for one of his signature big time performances and Hoyer was doomed to fail with no talent to be found in his supporting cast. The Vikings were supposed to blow the Browns out of the water and notch their first win of the season in their home opener.

However, the Browns made it clear to everyone watching the game that they did not receive the memo. Despite falling behind 7-0 early in the game, Hoyer stayed cool and collected to lead the Browns on a touchdown drive to tie the game mere minutes later. The drive was capped by a 47 yard pass to a streaking Josh Gordon, who used his blazing speed to get behind the Vikings secondary and into the end zone.

Gordon, making his season debut, announced his presence in the game by hauling in 10 catches for 146 yards, making both the Browns and his fantasy owners happy. He had been suspended for the first two games of the season for drug abuse but returned with a bang on Sunday. After that performance, no one is accusing the Browns offense of being devoid of talent.

However, Hoyer saved his best moment for last. With less than four minutes to go in the game, the Browns found themselves trailing 27-24 when they got the ball back near midfield. He calmly led the Browns down the field, ultimately finding tight end Jordan Cameron in the end zone with fifty-one seconds remaining to put the Browns back in front.

The Browns’ defense took over from there, adopting a bend-but-don’t-break approach to keep the Vikings from scoring a touchdown of their own. On the last play of the game, defensive tackle Desmond Bryant broke through the barrier that was the Vikings’ offensive line and sacked quarterback Christian Ponder in the backfield to seal the deal. As for Peterson, Cleveland’s defense managed to keep the star running back in check to the tune of 88 yards rushing on 25 carries.

For one day, the Browns provided their fans a glimmer of hope in an otherwise dark time in franchise history. Despite the absence of two of their most notable offensive catalysts, the Browns went out and showed the pundits that they do, in fact, still have talented offensive players on their roster. The forecast for next week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals should feature more of the same doom and gloom. That’s okay; the Browns are used to being doubted by pundits. After this win, they won’t mind going out and trying to prove them wrong once again.