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TNF: Browns Defeat Bills, Both Teams Hit With Major Injuries

There were major losses for both teams.

There were major losses for both teams.

Those who didn’t think the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns were worthy of playing in primetime were proven wrong on Thursday night, as each team proved they were finally, at long last, on an upward trajectory.

The Browns walked away with the win, but the game was competitive until about midway through the fourth quarter. That’s when it became obvious the injury situation would be too much for the Bills to overcome.

And it wasn’t the kind of competition you’d expect from a game between the comically terrible Steelers and Giants right now, outdoing themselves with nothing but buffoonery. The game was legitimately decent.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that just one night of fairly decent football cost both teams an awful lot in terms of injuries. Overall they were down several starters, even before halftime.

Browns starting quarterback Brian Hoyer was the first casualty of the evening. After two straight starts, and two straight wins, starting in place of Brandon Weeden, the lifelong Browns fan suffered a knee injury less than five minutes into the first quarter.

Though his return was called questionable, it was clear almost immediately that Hoyer wouldn’t be returning when he was ushered off to the team locker room. Eventually he was ruled out for the rest of the game. Hoyer is expected to undergo an MRI on Friday.

It was a very unfortunate loss for the Browns, as Hoyer was hoping to become the first quarterback in franchise history to win his first three starts.

The next man down was Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson, who also left in the first quarter. Johnson injured his back trying to make a move to the sideline early on. He did return briefly in the second quarter, but was nowhere to be found in the second half.

Unfortunately for Buffalo, that wouldn’t be their biggest loss of the night. Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel left the game in the third quarter after taking a particularly unpleasant looking hit to the knee from Browns defensive back Tashaun Gipson.

While the hit was unsettling, initially it looked like Manuel would be able to walk it off and return. He was seen pacing the sidelines without assistance through the next several plays. Eventually though, the Bills did the smart thing in not allowing their promising young starter to play the hero.

In the end they Browns pulled away, winning 37-24, largely because Weeden was a far more capable replacement than was rookie Jeff Tuel for the Bills.

Which should be encouraging for Cleveland, as it certainly looks like Hoyer’s injury was far more significant than that of Manuel. More information will be available on all the injured starters in the next day or so, but the only one that looked to be potentially season-ending was Hoyer’s.

In the mean time, with this win the Browns captured the lead in the AFC North—an accomplishment in and of itself for these perennial basement dwellers. And despite falling to 2-3, the Bills are still very much in the mix in the AFC East.

Not too bad for two teams whose fans are usually concerning themselves with next year’s draft status by the time October rolls around.

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