|Date of game: 9/14/2014
Recap: Cleveland vs. New Orleans
Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Billy Cundiff's 29-yard field goal with three seconds remaining gave the Cleveland Browns a stunning 26-24 win over the New Orleans Saints.
New Orleans (0-2) led for the bulk of the fourth quarter following Mark Ingram's 1-yard touchdown less than three minutes into the period. After a series of punts both ways, the Browns (1-1) took over at their own 4-yard line with 2:46 to play.
Brian Hoyer converted two third downs with his arm to Miles Austin, and he found Gary Barnidge for 10 yards on 4th-and-6. The biggest pass of the game came three plays later, when Hoyer looked up top for a wide open Andrew Hawkins, who hauled in a 28-yard completion down to the Saints 11. Following a timeout, Cundiff calmly kicked his second field goal of the day to make Cleveland winners.
"I feel like I was really locked in to the plays that were being called, and the process of the two-minute drive," Hoyer said.
Hawkins' reception was Cleveland's longest play from scrimmage all game.
Hoyer completed 24-of-40 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown. Terrance West made his first career start and carried 19 times for 68 yards and a touchdown, and Johnny Manziel made his NFL debut but his lone pass attempt fell incomplete.
Drew Brees finished 27-for-40 for 237 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for New Orleans, which lost to the Falcons last week in overtime on a Matt Bryant field goal. Jimmy Graham caught 10 passes for 118 yards and both touchdowns.
"Now is not the time to worry. The season is still early," Ingram said. "We just have to get a sense of urgency and continue to improve."
Thomas Morstead punted out of his own end zone midway through the first quarter, setting up the Browns offense near midfield. Hoyer methodically moved the ball into the red zone and found Austin from three yards out. The touchdown was Austin's first since Week 16 of 2012 when he was with the Cowboys.
Cundiff added a 32-yard field goal as time expired in the first quarter, and it was 10-0.
After their first four possessions ended in punts, the Saints finally sustained a drive midway through the second quarter but came away with just a field goal to show for it. An end-around to Brandin Cooks for 28 yards highlighted the seven-play, 73-yard drive but on 3rd-and-1 from the Browns 8, Brees hit Josh Hill short of the sticks and Shayne Graham came on for a 27- yard field goal.
Cleveland then went three-and-out and on the ensuing Saints possession, Brees overthrew Graham and was picked off by Tashaun Gipson. Gipson got good blocking upfield and sprinted 62 yards to the end zone for his second career touchdown. Punter Spencer Lanning fumbled the snap on the extra point and was tackled, which nearly came back to haunt the Browns, who trailed by a point before Cundiff's game-winner.
The Saints stole momentum back heading into the half, as Brees led a 12-play scoring drive and hit Graham in the front right corner of the end zone from nine yards out three seconds before halftime. Cleveland took a 16-10 lead into the break.
Graham's second touchdown catch, this one from a yard out early in the third, gave the Saints their first lead.
West's first NFL touchdown came on the next Cleveland series, which saw Manziel get his first NFL action. The polarizing rookie out of Texas A&M first handed off to Isaiah Crowell then rolled left and threw to Ray Agnew near the sideline, but the ball fell incomplete.
West scored from nine yards out to make it 23-17, and again the Saints marched back down the field and scored to go in front.
Ingram, who ran for a team-high 83 yards, capped the 13-play, 80-yard series with a short TD to make it 24-23.Game Notes
The Saints haven't started with back-to-back road games since 2007. They
started 0-4 that season and missed the playoffs ... New Orleans was 3-5 on the
road last season ... The Browns had lost eight straight games dating back to
last season ... Earlier this week, Cleveland learned that Pro Bowl wide
receiver Josh Gordon will have his year-long suspension reduced to 10 games
following a revision in the NFL's drug policy.