Hoyer continues to provide spark
CLEVELAND--After leading the Browns to a game-winning drive in the final moments in his first start last week, questions remained if Brian Hoyer would be able to do it again.
However, he never was given the opportunity against the Bengals as the Browns never trailed, improving to 2-2 with a 17-6 win over the Bengals.
Rob Chudzinski was impressed with Hoyer, but still would not name him the starter for next Thursday's game with the Bills.
"He did a good job of managing things early (in the game)," Chudzinski said "He settled in and made good throws. He has been the spark I had hoped for."
Hoyer led the Browns on two long touchdown drives of 95- and 91-yards to give the Browns all of the points they needed.
"As an offense, when you have long drives, it proves that you can be balanced," Hoyer said. "You can go and attack a defense. it doesn't always take a short field to score. On those drives it was a good mix of run, pass, empty, play action. That's what this offense has a chance to be. I thought the play calling was awesome. I felt really comfortable with what we had going."
Hoyer says the offense has a lot of confidence in the defense and knows if they can put points on the board, they have a good chance of winning the game.
"Really, we just have to go out and execute," he said. "The times we were stopped, we stopped ourselves. With the defense that we have, we (the offense) just have to go out there and not screw it up. It's it's third and long, take a check down and punt. We know our defense can hold them. A lot of confidence in those guys, they are doing a great job."
Hoyer did lead the Browns on a game-clinching 91-yard drive that took 6:37 off the clock in the fourth quarter to put the Browns up 17-6 with just 4:54 to play. The drive was capped by Hoyer's second touchdown pass of the game, a one-yard toss to Chris Ogbonnaya.
Hoyer finished 25-of-38 for 269 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His rating was 103.9. He was sacked three times.
Hoyer showed his emotion as he pumped his fist after throwing the touchdown pass.
"I think by the time he caught it I was at the 40-yard line, because he was so wide open," Hoyer said. "So it would have been really embarrassing if he had't have caught it. It's good because we know we capped off a long drive with a touchdown. That's what you need to win games.
"Field goals are great, but what it comes down to in the league is you have to score touchdowns when you get in the red zone."
On the fourth quarter drive, Hoyer hit Jordan Cameron down the sidelines for a 31 yard gain that moved the ball to the Bengals' 24. After three-straight runs by McGahee to the one-yard line, Hoyer faked into the line and found a wide open Ogbonnaya in the end zone.
After a three-and-out to open the game on offense, the Browns got their offense rolling on their second possession. Starting at their own five-yard line, the Browns moved to the 25 on an 11-yard run by Ogbonnaya. After another first down, Hoyer hit Travis Benjamin on a short pass and he broke loose for a 39-yard gain to the Bengals' 22. The drive took 12 plays and 6:29 to score.
After a short run, Hoyer hit Davone Bess on a slant over the middle for 17 yards to the one-yard line. After McGahee was dropped for a two-yard loss, Hoyer threw a fade to Cameron in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown to give the Browns a 7-0 lead.
Hoyer was 6-of-6 for 75 yards on the first drive and was 9-of-9 for 85 yards before he threw his first incompletion.
The Browns converted 9-of-18 on third downs and scored two touchdowns after being in goal to go situations.
Winning his first start in front of his hometown fans meant a lot to Hoyer.
"It's awesome," he said. "I grew up here, I know what these fans are like. They were really energized. There were times on third down, it got loud. That's what we need and we are going to need that again Thursday night (against the Bills)."
First Place Browns: By virtue of the Browns win and the Ravens and Bengals losses, the Browns are in a three way tie for first place in the AFC North with a 2-2 record. The Steelers are 0-4.
Cam Man: TE Jordan Cameron caught 10 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown. He caught a two-yard touchdown in the first quarter, which was his fifth touchdown of the season.
"He's a very talented player," Hoyer said.
Cameron already has 30 receptions for 360 yards with five touchdowns.
"He made a big play that got us started with that fade," Chudzinski said. "He seems to be a guy that can make big plays for us."
Besides the touchdown, Cameron caught a 31-yard pass from Hoyer in the fourth quarter that led to the final Browns touchdown.
Mingo's Day: With the injury to LB Jabaal Sheard, rookie LB Barkevious Mingo started his first NFL game. Mingo sacked QB Andy Dalton and then tackled RB Gio Bernard for a two-yard loss on back-to-back plays to end the first quarter. It was Mingo's third sack in as many games for the Browns.
"He's a guy that shows up and awful lot," Chudzinski said. "He gets better every game."
Mingo had four tackles, including the sack and a tackle for a loss. He also tipped a ball that QB Andy Dalton threw. Mingo has three tackles on the season, second to DL Desmond Bryant's 3.5.
"It's just fun to be out there," Mingo said. "I just want to do whatever the team needs from me."
Active Backers: The Browns linebackers led the team in tackles as LB D'Qwell Jackson had 10 tackles and LB Craig Robertson had 9. LB Paul Kruger had two tackles and a pass batted down. Mingo had a sack and a pass batted down.
Desmond's Day: DL Desmond Bryant failed to get a sack for the first time this season, but he did make one of the biggest plays of the game. Bryant stopped RB Benjarvus Green-Ellis for a two-yard loss on fourth-and-one from the Browns' 7 in the second quarter. The Bengals elected to forego a field goal and go for the first down and turned the ball over to the Browns. The Browns were leading 7-3 at the time.
"We have players on this team that can make plays," Bryant said.
Rushing Attack: The Browns rushed for just 89 yards on 30 attempts (3.0 avg.). RB Willis McGahee carried 15 times for 46 yards (3.1 avg.), while RB Chris Ogbonnaya had five carries for 27 yards (5.4 avg.). RB Bobby Rainey had six rushes for 9 yards (1.8 avg.).Ogbonnaya had five receptions for 21 yards, including a one-yard touchdown.
Big Play Benjamin: WR Travis Benjamin caught just one pass, but it was for 39 yards. That was the only play he was targeted on in the passing game. He also returned one punt for seven yards. Benjamin's catch was the big play on the Browns first touchdown drive.
Iron Man: LT Joe Thomas started his 100th straight game. Thomas was introduced last for the Browns in player introductions. Thomas might have been a little more amped up than usual as he had a false start on the second play of the game.
"I'm excited that we're 2-2 and we're making a push in the division," Thomas said. "We're starting to win division games and win close games. Obviously, the offense is picking up. We're playing better in the last two weeks. Those are all encouraging things, but it's hard to make an assessment of the long term ability of the team. We did well this week and won, now we've just got to worry about trying to win on Thursday."
Backfired: The Browns appeared to try and short kick the Bengals after their first touchdown, but the ball was fielded at the Bengals' 47 where they started their drive that resulted in a field goal.
Owens, Skrine Big Play: Two of the Browns cornerbacks that have been picked on made big plays. CB Chris Owens made an impact with a strip sack on a blitz on QB Andy Dalton and he ended up recovering the fumble, as well. He finished with two tackles. Owens hit Dalton's arm on a blitz and recovered on the Bengals' 47 with 11:24 to play in the third quarter. However, the Browns were unable to take advantage of the turnover. CB Buster Skrine intercepted his first pass of the season with 3:43 to play to seal the game after LB D'Qwell Jackson tipped a pass by Dalton. Skrine finished with two tackles and three passes broken up. He did get flagged for a pass interference penalty for 40 yards in the first half and a 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty in the third quarter that helped the Bengals get their second field goal.
Third Down Joy: The Browns defense had been giving up third down conversions at nearly a 50 percent rate coming into the game, but held the Bengals to just 4-of-14 for 29 percent.
Flash Gordon: WR Josh Gordon's had 4 receptions for 71 yards (17.8 avg.), including a catch of 33 yards over DB Adam Jones to the Bengals' 36 to start the game.
Cundiff Kicks: K Billy Cundiff missed two first half attempts after missing practice most of the week with a quad injury. He missed a 37-yard attempt wide left first and then a 49-yard attempt as the first half ended. He did come back and hiit a 51-yard field goal with 5:10 left in the third quarter to make the score 10-3 at the time. S Spencer Lanning handled the kickoff duties. Lanning punted five times for a 42.8 average with a long of 59 yards. He had three punts inside the 20.
"He felt good enough to kick," Chudzinski said. "I don't think he was 100 percent, but for him to come back and hit the 51 yard attempt (in the second half) was big."
Inactives: The Browns in actives were: QB Brandon Weeden (thumb), LB Quentin Groves (ankle), OL Shawn Lauvao (ankle), DL Billy Winn (calf), LB Jabaal Sheard (knee), OL Martin Wallace and TE Keavon Milton. Oniel Cousins made his fourth-straight start for Lauvao and LB Barkevious Mingo made his first start for Sheard.
For the Bengals: S Reggie Nelson, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, CB Leon Hall, HB Rex Burkhead, G Mike Pollak, G Tanner Hawkinson and DE Margus Hunt. Adam Jones started for Hall and Taylor Mays started in place of Nelson.
Wildcat Man: TE MarQueis Gray lined up for an apparent 'Wildcat' play after WR Travis Benjamin caught a pass and ran to the Bengals' 22 in the first quarter. The Bengals called a timeout and the Browns came out in a different look. Gray was a former quarterback at Minnesota. Later in the game, the Browns lined up in the formation again ad RB Bobby Rainey ran for a short gain.
Kosar Arrested: Former Browns QB Bernie Kosar was arrested early Sunday morning in Solon according to numerous report
Gibron, Fiss Inducted: Former Browns LB Galen Fiss and OL Abe Gibron were inducted into the Browns Legends class before the game.