Some of the key players in the Browns victory over the Buffalo Bills have been much maligned in their careers as members of the team, both recently and over the long haul. Nevertheless, the team could not pull this game out without their efforts. Greg Little, Travis Benjamin and Brandon Weeden all played roles in the Browns winning this game and all used this game as an opportunity to redeem themselves not only for their own benefit but for their teammates.
Little started the game out badly with kick returns as he took back to back returns out of the end zone and could not get to the 10 yard line. He was ultimately able to bounce back in a big way. When Weeden came into the game, Little became a factor. He was targeted 5 times and caught 3 of them for 71 yards including a 47 yard bomb. When Little came up with that deep pass from Weeden, he looked like Gordon (I thought it was Gordon until he stood up).
The way Little has been struggling both on and off the field, it was beginning to not only look like Little would not have a spot on the 2014 roster, but might not even make it through 2013. Given how hard he was working in training camp, it seemed like he had really turned a corner, but it has not gone that way during the season. Now, it is one game and really, it was just one half of one game, but Little looked good. If he can use this to get on track and play like he did the second half of last year and get better, he could be something on this team. Anything short of that and he goes right back on the chopping block.
Benjamin was good at the end of last year where he really looked like a dangerous weapon on returns that could safely take the reins from Josh Cribbs and continue to give the Browns a big time return threat. That looked even more promising going into the season as Benjamin had a stellar preseason. In the regular season, Benjamin was not only ineffective but struggled and was demoted at times as he muffed punts.
In this game, Benjamin set a franchise record for punt return yardage with 7 returns for 179 yards and a touchdown, including a 57 yard return and a 79 yard return for the touchdown. That surpassed Browns returning legend, Eric Metcalf, who is still in the hearts of Browns fans as he had two punt return touchdowns in one game to beat the Steelers. Hopefully, this is a sight of things to come from Benjamin going forward as he looked substantially more confident in this game.
After struggles last year and a putrid start to this year, many fans were ready to bury Weeden. Many still are as anyone who listened to the game heard that every time Weeden missed a throw or made an ugly play (of which there were more than a few), fans rained boos down on him. Weeden is not the answer to the quarterback equation; he just is not that guy. Nevertheless, in a relief appearance with virtually no practice in the past two weeks, Weeden was able to fight through and lead a few scoring drives, including one where he threw two pretty passes to Little and Josh Gordon that resulted in a touchdown and flashed the talent Weeden brought to Cleveland.
This could all be short lived success and just be contained within that night, but for that one night, that one game, these three players played a huge role in helping the Browns get the win against the Bills, lift the city of Cleveland, and help the Browns get to 3-2 and sole possession of first place, even if only for a couple days.