All celebrations must come to an end at some point, the Atlanta Falcons just didn’t think there’s would last just 44 seconds. That was all the time Brian Hoyer needed to drive the Browns 60 yards to set up the game-winning field goal and clinch the 26-24 win.
It was almost as if the NFL Film’s super slow-motion cameras took over the entire Georgia Dome. Four complete passes to wide receiver Miles Austin, tight end Gary Barnidge, and newly reinstated wide receiver Josh Gordon set up Billy Cundiff for a 37 yarder. Yes, the same well-traveled Billy Cundiff that was released by the Falcons before the start of the 2007 season.
How the game wrapped up was a perfect ending to a contest filled with missed opportunities.
Turnovers plagued both quarterbacks as often as the pressure from the opposing defenses. Hoyer tossed three picks and Falcons QB Matt Ryan would have matched him except for the defenders inability to hold onto the ball. “I’ve got to play a lot better”, said Hoyer. “ If we want to really do something with this thing, I can’t play like that. I mean, I can’t even believe we still won.”
Julio Jones put the Falcons ahead early running by Browns cornerback Joe Haden for a 24-yard touchdown.
Cleveland answered back on the ensuing drive turning to Georgia-native and former Georgia Bulldog Isaiah Crowell. Crowell scored from 11 yards out to jump start a special day in front of over 50 of his friends and family in the stands. “It was real nice to see my family members,” said the Columbus, Georgia native. “I’m real happy that they got to see me play.”
Crowell rushed for 88 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. His second score at the end of the third gave the Browns a 23-14 lead.
Atlanta narrowed the lead to 23-21 at the start of the fourth on a 1 yard run by Steven Jackson.
Hoyer threw his second interception minutes later to a leaping Desmond Trufant in the back of the end zone that ended an 8 play, 74-yard drive.
The 6 year pro out of Michigan doubled down on the mistake throwing his third interception on the very next drive. Atlanta ended up capitalizing on the turnover with a Matt Bryant field goal to take the lead and send Atlanta team owner Arthur Blank into celebration mode.
Prior to the field goal Falcons coach Mike Smith raised a few eyebrows calling a timeout with 55 seconds left on the clock. “We wanted to get a first down, and we felt like we had a play that’s why we called the timeout,” said Smith. “We came over and used it. They would’ve used the timeout probably if we hadn’t.”
Smith’s timeout didn’t yield the result he expected and after the field goal watched joy turn to utter frustration as the Browns celebrated a Falcons cast-off’s game-winning kick.