Many people thought the Cleveland Browns were waving the white flag when they traded running back Trent Richardson earlier this week.
Instead, the Browns pulled out all the tricks in Sunday's 31-27 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Brian Hoyer, filling in for an injured Brandon Weeden, threw a 7-yard TD pass to Jordan Cameron with 51 seconds left to give Rob Chudzinski his first win as the head coach of the Browns.
Hoyer, making his second career start, completed 30-of-54 passes for 321 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Weeden was ruled out earlier in the week due to a thumb injury.
"It's just good to get the first win," Hoyer said. "We've got a really resilient group. I think we showed that through the week that we had."
Cameron caught six passes for 66 yards and three scores for Cleveland (1-2), which shipped Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts in a surprise blockbuster trade. Josh Gordon, who was suspended for the first two games, had 10 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown.
Christian Ponder completed 25-of-42 passes for 228 yards and an interception for the Vikings (0-3), who sit last in the NFC North. Ponder also carried the ball five times for 46 yards and two touchdowns.
Adrian Peterson rushed for 88 yards and a score on 25 carries.
"We've got a lot of things to figure out," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said.
Trailing 27-24, the Browns took over at their own 45 with 3:21 to play. Gordon kept the drive alive with an 11-yard catch on third down. Chris Ogbonnaya added an 11-yard catch of his own two plays later. Cameron and Gordon hauled in passes of 13 and 10 yards to move the ball to the seven. On 3rd-and-goal, Hoyer found Cameron in the left corner of the end zone for a 31-27 lead.
Minnesota moved the ball to the Cleveland 34-yard line, but Ponder was sacked as time expired.
The Vikings scored a touchdown on their first possession of the game. Greg Jennings and Jarius Wright caught passes of 27 and 20 yards to move the ball inside the red zone. Peterson finished the 11-play drive with three straight runs, capped by a 2-yard score.
Hoyer and Gordon hooked up for a 47-yard touchdown later in the first quarter. Gordon got past his defender down the left sideline and scored in his 2013 debut, making it 7-7 with 4:42 remaining.
Cleveland added another touchdown in the early stages of the second stanza. Gordon caught a 30-yard pass and tacked on a 22-yard run to set up Cameron's 19-yard TD catch.
The back-and-forth battle continued on the ensuing Minnesota possession. Cordarrelle Patterson 37-yard catch led to Ponder's 6-yard TD run on a quarterback draw.
The Browns responded with a 38-yard field goal from Billy Cundiff. The field goal was made possible when Josh Aubrey recorded a 34-yard run on a fake punt.
Cleveland's defense followed with a big play. Ponder's pass was tipped and picked off by T.J. Ward near midfield. Gordon's 21-yard catch put the Browns in the red zone, but the visitors needed another trick play. On 4th-and-4 from the 11-yard line, Cleveland set up for a field goal. Instead, holder Spencer Lanning took the snap and fired an 11-yard TD pass to a wide open Cameron.
After Travis Benjamin fumbled a punt, Blair Walsh made a 43-yard field goal to get the Vikings within seven, 24-17, with 1:08 left until the break. Each team turned the ball over once in that remaining time.
That trend continued in the early stages of the second half, with each team turning the ball over once.
Hoyer's second interception of the third period led to a Minnesota score. Sharrif Floyd hit Hoyer's arm and Erin Henderson was in the right place for an easy interception. Three plays later, Ponder recorded an 8-yard TD run to make it 24-24 with 2:36 left.
After the Browns went three-and-out, Minnesota put together a 13-play, 60-yard drive. A 15-yard face mask penalty on third down put the Vikings at the Cleveland 20-yard line. Walsh's 30-yard field goal with 10:47 left gave the home team the lead.
Despite Sunday's defeat, the Vikings hold an 11-4-0 advantage over the Browns in the all-time series between the two franchises ... Gordon was suspended for the first two games of the 2013 season due to violating the drug policy ... Willis McGahee, who was brought in to fill the Browns' vacant starting running back spot, carried the ball eight times for nine yards.