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09/22/2013 6:52 PM EDT
Hoyer helps Browns stun Vikings 31-27
CLEVELAND 31, MINNESOTA 27

By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Pro Football Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The young running back was traded away, the
third-stringer was picked to start at quarterback, and
Cleveland's jaded fan base was already pushing this week for the
first pick in next year's draft.

The Browns haven't given up on the season, though.

Minnesota's might be slipping away.

Jordan Cameron caught three touchdown passes, including the
go-ahead grab in the back of the end zone with 51 seconds left,
and the Browns kept the Vikings winless with a 31-27 victory
Sunday.

"If you let the distractions that are outside of the locker room
affect the way you play, then you are tanking the season and you
will have no chance," said Joe Thomas, the three-time All-Pro
left tackle.

Brian Hoyer threw for three scores in his second career start,
and the Browns (1-2) became the latest team to torch Minnesota's
struggling secondary, which lost top cornerback Chris Cook to a
groin injury in the first quarter. Hoyer overcame three
interceptions to throw for 321 yards, going 30 for 54. Josh
Gordon had 10 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown in his
season debut, and Cameron had six receptions for 66 yards.

"It's just a matter of believing in Brian and believing in
ourselves, and we did a good job of that," Cameron said.

Christian Ponder ran for two touchdowns for the Vikings (0-3),
but he threw an interception, lost a fumble and took his sixth
sack on the final play of the game. The Vikings went
three-and-out six times, twice in the fourth quarter when they
could've put the game away.

Ponder almost hit Jerome Simpson in a crowd at the goal line on
the penultimate play, but the Vikings didn't get closer than the
34.

"We've got to look ourselves in the mirror and change this
around quickly, because we're going to make sure this doesn't
steamroll and snowball downhill," Ponder said.

After scoring 16 points over the first two games, dealing 2012
first-round draft pick Trent Richardson to Indianapolis and
putting Hoyer in for the injured Brandon Weeden, the Browns
looked finished. They were behind 7-0 after a long Vikings
touchdown drive and a 45-second possession of their own forced a
punt.

But they held Adrian Peterson to 88 yards and one score on 25
rushes, used a fake punt and a fake field goal in the first half
to build a lead and kept the Vikings from scoring after Hoyer's
first two interceptions. The third one, by Erin Henderson, set
up Ponder's scramble for 8 yards to tie the game late in the
third quarter.

The Vikings got Blair Walsh's second field goal of the game with
10:47 remaining, but they stalled at the 12 and missed an
opportunity there, too. The defense held the Browns without
scoring for seven straight possessions, but like last week in
the one-point loss at Chicago faltered on the final drive when
the failure stung the most.

"I don't know if guys underestimated the Browns coming in or
what the deal was, but we have to take a long look in the mirror
and get better," said defensive end Jared Allen, who was held
without a sack or a tackle and was credited with one quarterback
pressure against Thomas.

The Browns started at their 45 with 3:21 left and finished the
commanding march with a 7-yard pass by Hoyer to the corner for
Cameron, the budding standout tight end Cameron who has 20
catches for 267 yards and four scores already this year.

Hoyer, who played for New England and Arizona after a
nondescript career at Michigan State, grew up in a suburb of
Cleveland rooting for the Browns. So he knew how the fans were
feeling after the Richardson trade.

"I used to think that way, too. Hopefully this is a change,"
Hoyer said.

Hoyer, whose wife is due with the couple's second child on Oct.
21, joked he hoped he didn't send her into labor early with the
wild finish. Trailing by three, the Browns could've settled for
a short tying field goal. But kicker Billy Cundiff was hurting
with a quadriceps problem, so that wasn't a guarantee.

"I told the guys in the huddle, `Let's just go win it right
here,"' Hoyer said.

NOTES: Punter/holder Spencer Lanning threw the TD pass to
Cameron on the fake FG in the second quarter. He also kicked the
last extra point, with Cundiff hurting. According to the NFL,
Lanning became the first player since 1968 with a punt, extra
point and TD pass in one game. ... The Vikings have been
out-sacked by their opponents 10-4. ... Referee Bill Leavy
mistakenly penalized the Vikings after coach Leslie Frazier
tried to challenge a ruling on a muffed punt in the second
quarter. Minnesota should have lost a timeout instead.

---

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org

---

Dave Campbell on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP

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