CLEVELAND - When it comes to the Cleveland Browns, you never know what's coming.
With all the odds stacked against them, just days after trading their cornerstone running back Trent Richardson, Brian Hoyer found Jordan Cameron in the back left corner of the end zone in the fourth quarter to give the Browns an improbable 31-27 victory over the Vikings.
Hoyer had his ups and downs, throwing three interceptions, along with three touchdowns.
When it mattered most though, the St. Ignatius grad came through in fine fashion, leading the 11-play, 55-yard touchdown drive culminating in the Cameron touchdown with 51 seconds left.
The Browns pulled out all the stops to send a statement to the doubters.
On a 4th and 1 in the second quarter, upback Josh Aubrey shot up the middle of the Browns' punt formation for 34 yards. On their next drive, punter Spencer Lanning took the snap on a Billy Cundiff field goal attempt and threw an 11-yard touchdown to Cameron.
That's right - the team's punter has now thrown as many touchdowns this season as its injured incumbent quarterback Brandon Weeden.
Cameron, the Browns' third-year tight end, excelled Sunday, racking up three touchdowns on 66 yards.
He wasn't alone in the passing game, which was rejuvenated by the return of Josh Gordon.
The receiver who was suspended for the first two games of the season due to a violation of the NFL's drug policy exhibited how much of an impact player he can be, notching 146 yards on 10 receptions.
Gordon made his mark quickly, getting loose down the sideline for a 47-yard touchdown reception on the Browns' second possession of the game.
Hoyer targeted Gordon a whopping 19 of his 54 attempts. For the day, the Browns' third-string quarterback turned starter completed 30 of those 54 for 321 yards. The 68.5 quarterback rating he finished with was due in large part to the three picks on poor reads of the field.
While the Browns turned the ball over a total of four times, including a Travis Benjamin muffed punt, the Vikings' three were also painful blows, particularly a Christian Ponder fumble before the end of the first half with his offense well within field goal range.
Ponder did prove a threat with his legs, rushing for two touchdowns and 46 yards but also succumbed to Browns' pressure six times.
Each of those sacks was recorded by a different Browns defender: Desmond Bryant, Jabaal Sheard, John Hughes, Billy Winn, Phil Taylor and top pick Barkevious Mingo.
The defense now has 12 sacks in total through the first three games.
Vikings' stud running back Adrian Peterson picked up 88 yards and a touchdown on the ground but was kept from breaking a big one with a long run of just nine yards. In the first week of the season, Peterson victimized Detroit on a 78-yard run on Minnesota's first play from scrimmage.
Sunday's win was reminiscent of Week 7 of 2010 when the Browns took on the Saints in New Orleans. That day, the deck was stacked against the 1-5 Browns, who grabbed a 30-17 victory with a memorable moment that also included trickery, Reggie Hodges faking a punt and taking the snap up the middle for 68 yards.
"I believe in this group. I believe in the guys in this locker room, and I believe that the next guy will step up. We'll find a way and do what we need to do to win," head coach Rob Chudzinski said in a news conference after the bombshell trade that sent Richardson to the Colts for a 2014 first round draft pick.
Chudzinski was right. He didn't give up, as former Browns president Mike Holmgren said he would have if his "best offensive player" had been traded.
Perfect it wasn't – the offensive line is still a major problem - but a win it was and that's more than most expected when the white flag appeared to fly from Berea Wednesday.
For this week, the chatter can - as it should - remain focused on the football played on Sundays and the players on the field this season, not 2014 draft picks, prospects or pain.
What did you think of the Browns' performance Sunday? Chime in with a comment below.