TODAY'S PAPER
71° Good Morning
71° Good Morning
SportsFootball

Brian Hoyer leads rally as Cleveland Browns beat Tennessee Titans

Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) passes under

Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) passes under pressure from Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Mike Martin (93) in the second quarter of a game Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. Credit: AP / Mark Zaleski

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Cleveland Browns shook off a sluggish start with a finish to remember.

Brian Hoyer threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin with 1:09 left, and the Browns rallied from a 25-point deficit in beating the Tennessee Titans 29-28 Sunday for their biggest comeback in franchise history.

The Browns (2-2) had never come back from more than 20 points before, and this easily topped the comeback on Dec. 4, 1966, when Cleveland trailed the Giants 34-14 and won 49-40, according to STATS Inc.

This time, the Browns also won a road game for the first time since Sept. 22, 2013, at Minnesota, and they couldn't have made it tougher on themselves as they fell behind 28-3 in the first half. They snapped a seven-game road skid scoring 26 unanswered points, including 16 in the fourth quarter.

The Titans (1-4) had a massive collapse — their biggest since moving to Tennessee in 1997.

Jake Locker didn't return after hurting his right thumb in the second quarter, and backup Charlie Whitehurst couldn't protect the big lead.

Tennessee turned the ball over on downs at the Titans 42 with 3:03 left when the Browns stopped Whitehurst on fourth down and less than a yard to go. Hoyer finished off the comeback with his second TD to Benjamin in the quarter for Cleveland's first lead.

The Titans had one last chance with 1:09 left. But time expired just after Whitehurst found Kendall Wright on a pass just past midfield.

The Browns outgained the Titans 460-410, and they also came up with three sacks even with end Phil Taylor missing the second half with an injured knee.

Hoyer finished 21 of 37 for 292 yards, and he started the Browns' comeback with a 1-yard TD pass to Jim Dray just before halftime. He also connected with Benjamin on a 17-yard TD pass. That TD finished off a drive after Cleveland got the ball on a free kick off a safety when Tank Carder blocked a Brett Kern punt through the end zone early in the fourth quarter.

It's the fourth straight loss for the Titans, and it could be very costly with a handful of Titans limping off injured.

First-year coach Ken Whisenhunt streamlined his offense trying to jump start his struggling Titans.

It worked as the Titans scored on two of their first three drives, and they scored their first points in the first quarter this season with 4:46 left when Locker found Wright on a short pass, and Wright dodge K'Waun Williams and ran into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

Locker took a big forearm to the head from Browns linebacker Chris Kirksey in the end zone after scrambling for an 11-yard TD and a 14-0 lead within the first minute of the second quarter.

The Titans' quarterback didn't miss an offensive play, and he was leading an 80-yard drive when Skrine blitzed, hitting Locker in the head. Locker's hand hit Skrine's helmet as he threw, and the quarterback immediately signaled first down before going to the sideline and to the locker room. Locker didn't return.

Whitehurst replaced Locker and two of his three passes went for TDs with the second a career-long of 75 yards to Justin Hunter for a 28-3 lead late in the first half. That was it for the Titans' offense.

New York Sports