Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden celebrated his 29th birthday with a gift Cleveland Browns fans have been waiting almost a year to unwrap; a win.
The Browns started the season 0-5 and haven't won a game since November of last year. That all changed on Sunday when the Browns handed coach Pat Shurmur his first AFC North victory by beating the Bengals 34-24.
Weeden lead the charge with 2 TD passes to go along with 231 yards. Weeden vowed to not force the ball in the same fashion he displayed over the first few weeks of the season. "A win like this really helps a young quarterback," said veteran cornerback Sheldon Brown of his young qb. "It gives him the confidence that he can win. I think that’s the biggest thing," added Brown, who caught a pick six in the fourth quarter that blew the game open.
Despite a monster game from Bengals receiver A.J Green (135 yards and 2 TDs on 7 receptions), Cleveland's defense forced four turnovers feeding off of cornerback Joe Haden who made his return from a four-game suspension in style. Haden lifted the defense with his presence particularly in the third quarter with an interception that set up a TD.
"He sparked everyone today," said linebacker D'Qwell Jackson."Just the intensity that he brings and the all-out effort he approaches every day with, it rubs off on you. He was all over the field."
Haden was asked on what the team was feeling after the victory and he said "We were saying 'stop the bleeding, don't give up,'" Haden also added "I'm just so happy that it was the game that I came back, and we just made it happen." Cleveland sure is happy you came back when you did, Joe.
Something special happened on Sunday for the Browns. They played their first complete game of the season. Josh Cribbs had a 60 yard punt return that put his team in great field position in the third quarter. Tight end Ben Watson caught his first TD of the season. Running back Montario Hardesty replaced an injured Trent Richardson by scoring his first NFL TD at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Cornerback Usama Young topped it all off with an end zone pick of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.
"We were 0-5 and they're still packing the house," said Cribbs of the Cleveland fans."That's why this is Believeland and we're right there with them."
Cleveland moves to 1-5 while Cincinnati falls to 3-3.
Zachary Hutton is the lead boxing writer and an NFL contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can see what he's up to at his band's website myunclethewolf.com or also subscribe at Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
Photo Credit: Getty