For decades, the Cleveland Browns have made a cottage industry of finding ways to lose football games. The opposite happened Sunday in a 17-6 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Aided by a stifling defense, quarterback Brian Hoyer guided Cleveland to a second consecutive victory since he replaced Brandon Weeden in the starting lineup. He wasn't perfect, but Hoyer -- again -- was decisive throwing the ball and led the Browns on a long fourth-quarter scoring march that salted away the win over their AFC North rivals.
Bottom line: Don't expect to see Weeden any time soon.
Here's what else we learned:
- If you listen to the "Around The League Podcast," you know our gang of scribes has its issues with Andy Dalton. Sunday was a perfect example of why. The Bengals quarterback threw for a whopping 69 yards in the first half and failed to take advantage of good field position. Dalton doesn't lift the play of the guys around him. I can't help but wonder what this talented team could do with a gunslinger at the helm.
- This was a statement game for Cleveland's young defense. Joe Haden locked down A.J. Green in man coverage, and the Browns badgered Dalton with a disguised pass rush that unleashed Barkevious Mingo and saw cornerback Chris Owensstrip-sack the Bengals passer to open the third quarter. This is a well-coached unit that doesn't give up big plays.
- Giovani Bernard is a more powerful runner than his size would let on and the Bengals' most explosive weapon on the ground, but he disappeared against a Browns team that gave up just 3.2 yards a tote.
- Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said he wanted a spark, and that's been Hoyer. Left for dead after the Trent Richardson trade, Cleveland's roster has rallied around its new coach and quarterback. Weeden's disappearance into the shadows is just another example of how quickly things change in the NFL. Especially in Cleveland.