CLEVELAND - Moments after Brandon Weeden threw a crippling interception Sunday against the Lions, Thad Lewis connected on a game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter for the Bills.
You would be hard-pressed to ignore the irony in that when it comes to a franchise with as checkered a past at quarterback as the Cleveland Browns.
Lewis, the former third-string quarterback who started the Browns' final game last season after injuries to Weeden and Colt McCoy, looked proficient against the Bengals, leading the Bills back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit and into overtime in his first start with the team (Buffalo ultimately lost 27-24).
No one's saying Lewis is the second coming of Jim Kelly or Bernie Kosar but at the same time as he was putting together a fourth quarter comeback in Buffalo, Weeden was throwing away the Browns' hopes in Cleveland.
On 1st and 10 at the Lions' 44 with less than five minutes to go, Weeden dropped back, hesitated once, then twice more, as running back Chris Ogbonnaya looked to be his target in the flat. Maybe Weeden could have dumped it off to Ogbonnaya for a marginal gain had he released the ball on his first pump.
Instead, he produced one of the most hapless displays of quarterbacking in recent history, flipping the ball underhand with the zip of a tortoise's sprint in the direction of Ogbonnaya as DeAndre Levy darted up the field and grabbed it.
[Gif courtesy of @BuzzfeedSports]
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For a moment, Weeden became a Frankenstein-like assemblage of Garo Yepremian's arm strength and Brett Favre's reckless decision-making. Not even in the backyard with friends would a throw of that caliber be acceptable, let alone in a crucial situation in the game's final minutes.
"It was just a boneheaded play. I was trying to make a play." Weeden said, also acknowledging that he would have been better off just taking a sack as a Lions defender was about to take hold of his left ankle.
Many more adjectives could be thrown out to describe the interception (some are even calling it the worst in NFL history). The ones Browns fans were probably uttering as the crowd thinned out following the pick would not be appropriate for this space.
Minutes later, Matthew Stafford hit Joseph Fauria in the end zone for the third time, as the Lions capitalized on Weeden's mistake to go ahead by two touchdowns and effectively put the game out of reach with 2:01 left to play.
All the fault can't be placed on Weeden's shoulders. While the offense failed to score a point in the second half, the defense also surrendered 24.
In his first start since regaining the starting quarterback gig, however, Brandon Weeden made you yearn for Brian Hoyer.
He had his positive moments helping the Browns to a halftime lead but when it counted, Weeden folded.
Hoyer, on the other hand, thrived in a similar situation on the road in Minnesota a few weeks ago.
Sure, Weeden came off the bench and led the Browns to a win against the Bills in primetime. One of his shortcomings, however, is proving to be an unnerving inconsistency.
In 18 career starts, Weeden has led one-fourth quarter comeback, as many as Hoyer in four starts.
That will make you take notice of your former third-string quarterback coming up clutch in a different uniform or miss the hometown product who moved up the depth chart then too quickly onto injured reserve.