On a Sunday afternoon where the AFC North regained some luster, its last-place team pulled the biggest surprise.
The Browns, four days after trading tailback Trent Richardson to Indianapolis in a stunning move, rallied to beat the Vikings 31-27 in Minneapolis on Sunday. The win is the Browns’ first of the season and Rob Chudzinski’s first as an NFL head coach.
Meanwhile, the Vikings, who made the playoffs in 2012, are now 0-3.
This wasn’t the prettiest game — the teams combined for seven turnovers, with Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer throwing three picks after an impressive start. However, Hoyer played well on the game’s pivotal drive, completing six of his last nine passes, with the final throw a seven-yard TD to tight end Jordan Cameron with 51 seconds left that proved the ultimate margin of victory for Cleveland.
Cameron, who’s emerged as one of the keys to the Browns’ passing game, hauled in three TD passes on Sunday. One was on a fake field goal, with punter Spencer Lanning hitting the uncovered Cameron for six in the second quarter. That gave Cleveland a 24-14 second-quarter lead.
Minnesota would then score the next 13 points, and it held the lead until late in the fourth quarter. But for the second straight week, the Vikings surrendered a touchdown in the final minute.
The Vikings have now allowed at least 31 points in each of their first three games. Moreover, their special teams disappointed for a second straight week. In addition to the field-goal fake, the Browns also pulled off a fake punt to set up a field goal.
The week ahead figures to be interesting for both teams. Hoyer wasn’t perfect in his first Browns start, but he had his moments. The question now is how the Browns, who begin a three-game homestand in Week Four vs. Cincinnati, proceed at quarterback once Brandon Weeden (thumb) returns. The Vikings, meanwhile, have to regroup for a trip to London to play the Steelers on Sept. 29.