ATLANTA – Brian Hoyer didn't have the demeanor of a quarterback who just led his team to a last-second victory.
Facing reporters after Billy Cundiff's 37-yard field goal as time expired lifted the Cleveland Browns to a 26-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Hoyer was remorseful.
He couldn't believe he threw an interception that set up Matt Bryant's 53-yard field goal to give Atlanta the lead with 44 seconds remaining. The pass for Josh Gordon was intercepted by Dezmen Southward.
"It's great to win but I'm really disappointed in myself," Hoyer said in his opening statement. "I felt I let the team down even though we won."
Hoyer threw three interceptions, two in the fourth quarter. His self-criticism continued throughout his news conference.
"I'm so disappointed in myself right now," he said. "That's not how I play. I don't throw dumb interceptions."
Fortunately for the Browns, Hoyer had a short memory on the field. He completed four straight passes on the game-winning drive, including a 24-yarder to Gordon, who had eight catches for 120 yards in his first game of the season.
Hoyer winced when speaking of his feelings after the last interception. "Oh man, I was down," he said.
He had to leave the pain on the sideline for the Browns' final possession.
"If you're going to be a big-time quarterback in this league, you got to — no matter what happened before," said Browns coach Mike Pettine. "... If it had affected him, we wouldn't have had the result that we ended up with."
Hoyer's final completion to Miles Austin allowed the Browns (7-4) to stop the clock with 5 seconds left. Cundiff's fourth field goal ended the game.
The loss ended a modest two-game winning streak for the Falcons (4-7), who began the day tied with New Orleans atop the woeful NFC South.
"We didn't finish," said Falcons coach Mike Smith. "We didn't get the plays that we needed to make at the end of the game, nor did we make some plays earlier in the game."
Atlanta dropped to 0-7 against teams outside its division and took its fourth loss when leading in the fourth quarter.
Here are some things to know about the Browns' win over the Falcons:
CAPTAIN CROWELL: Pettine said he made former University of Georgia and Alabama State running back Isaiah Crowell, a Georgia native, a game captain because he knew it was an important game for the rookie. Playing before about 50 family and friends, Crowell ran for 88 yards with two touchdowns.
NO REST FOR GORDON: Pettine scoffed at reports that indicated Gordon's snaps would be limited in his return from a 10-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Gordon was targeted a game-high 16 times and said his busy day proved he worked hard during the suspension. "I think that goes to show I wasn't just sitting ... doing nothing," Gordon said.
BROWNS PLAY POWER BALL: Led by Crowell, Cleveland outrushed Atlanta 162-63. Terrance West ran for 62 yards. Steven Jackson led the Falcons with 13 carries for only 34 yards and a touchdown. The Browns averaged 5.6 yards per carry. The Falcons averaged 2.7 yards on 23 carries — none longer than seven yards.
SECOND GUESSING: Hoyer wasn't the only quarterback with regrets. The Falcons had to settle for Bryant's 53-yard field goal instead of working away more of the clock when Matt Ryan couldn't complete a third-and-2 sideline pass to Devin Hester. Why not try a shorter, higher-percentage pass?
"In situations like that, when you have opportunities to close things out or to make plays, you've got to make them," Ryan said. "I didn't do a good enough job of that." Ryan completed 27 of 43 passes for 272 yards with one interception and touchdown passes Julio Jones and Jacquizz Rodgers.
INJURY REPORT: Pettine said free safety Tashaun Gipson will have a MRI after he was carted off the field with a right knee injury. Falcons cornerback Robert McClain did not return after leaving with a left calf injury in the third quarter.
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