CLEVELAND: Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden wanted to re-enter his first game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the team’s medical staff didn’t allow it.
Weeden suffered a concussion Sunday when his helmet smacked slightly above the left knee of Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas as Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds pulled him down with 5:20 left in the fourth quarter of the Browns’ 20-14 win. Weeden got the pass off during the play, but it fell incomplete. The Browns punted, and backup quarterback Colt McCoy entered the game with three minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Weeden was not permitted to speak to reporters after the game, but he talked to Browns coach Pat Shurmur.
“He’s good,” Shurmur said. “We had a good conversation. He’s being treated for a concussion, but we’ll see where that goes. Some guys come back quickly. Some guys don’t. So we’ll just have to see where that’s at. He was responsive.”
Rookie running back Trent Richardson said the Browns (3-8) are confident in McCoy if he’s summoned to start Sunday on the road against the Oakland Raiders, but he also believes the 29-year-old Weeden will return in time.
“We’re gonna make sure Colt knows we believe in him,” Richardson said. “But I’m pretty sure Weeden’s gonna be back, and Weeden’s a warrior. … He didn’t even want to go out [of the game] then. They had to hide his helmet from him. So I’m pretty sure he’ll be back. But if it comes down to it, we’ve got Colt and Colt makes smart decisions, and Colt’s been ready to play all year.”
Before he walked to the locker room after suffering the concussion, Weeden completed 17-of-26 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown with an interception that was returned for a touchdown early in the first quarter. By reaching 2,456 passing yards, Weeden broke Tim Couch’s franchise record for a rookie (2,447).
Thomas knew Weeden was hurt immediately after he absorbed the blow.
“It looked like it just because the way he was on the ground just kind of shaking his head,” Thomas said. “I thought his helmet hit another guy’s helmet, but anytime you’re getting whipped down like that and getting that whiplash effect, it’s not good on the noggin.”
McCoy did not attempt a pass after entering the game. He is 6-15 as a starter and went 4-9 last season before suffering a season-ending concussion as a result of the helmet-to-helmet blast he took from Steelers linebacker James Harrison on Dec. 8.
“It was good to get him out there,” Thomas said of McCoy, who took his first snaps of the season. “He’s a huge asset to this team, not only what he does in practice, but being able to be a backup who’s ready, who’s completely studied up as if he was the starter and completely ready and willing to take over the offense to lead us just as well as Brandon if Brandon did get injured. So having him in there with the confidence that he has and the games that he’s played under his belt is huge.”
After missing the game last week with an oblique injury, cornerback Joe Haden made a big impact in his return to the lineup. This season, the Browns are 0-5 without him in the lineup and 3-3 with him.
Haden forced a fumble in the first half, deflected a ball intended for wide receiver Mike Wallace that was picked off by rookie defensive tackle Billy Winn and intercepted quarterback Charlie Batch’s deep pass to Wallace with three minutes remaining.
“Ballhawking, it was something we emphasized the whole week in practice — interceptions, getting the ball back to our offense,” Haden said. “They have a great defense, so the more chances we give our offense, the better chance we have to win. Everybody was hawking around the ball.”
Haden recorded his third interception of the season and ninth of his career. His first career interception also came against the Steelers when he picked off Ben Roethlisberger on Oct. 17, 2010. All nine balls are in the same spot, but the first and last hold a higher place.
“I’m about it put it up in my house. Every pick is in a box,” Haden said while holding the ball. “My first interception came against the Steelers, then I got this one right here. They’re separated from the others.”
Richardson scored the game-winning touchdown, which he knew would irk the Steelers’ No. 1-ranked defense.
With 5:19 remaining in the third quarter and the Browns trailing 14-13, Richardson took a handoff 15-yards out, got a block from fullback Alex Smith, made safety Ryan Clark miss and waltzed into the end zone.
“I think their main goal was to stop the run,” Richardson said. “I think if you score a passing touchdown on them, it’s like it don’t even count. So if you score a rushing touchdown on them, it hits them real hard. That makes them real mad.”
Tight end Jordan Cameron notched his first touchdown, catching a 5-yard pass from Weeden on a corner route on third-and-goal to put the Browns ahead 10-7 with 12:20 left in the second quarter. Cameron then put up a “T” sign for his 3-year-old son Tristan.
“I’m gonna give the ball to my little boy,” Cameron said. “He’ll put it in his room and probably lose it, but whatever.”
Free safety Usama Young had an early fumble recovery and a swatted pass on a blitz, but he left the game with a concussion after taking a shot to the head while tackling tight end Heath Miller in the third quarter.
Return standout Josh Cribbs left the game for a couple of minutes after injuring his shoulder but did return. He said afterward it is “just bruised real bad, that’s all.”
Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown’s interception in the third quarter set up Richardson’s touchdown. But Brown also had a hand in Steelers running back Chris Rainey’s 1-yard touchdown run just before halftime.
While covering recently signed receiver Plaxico Burress, who’s listed at 6-foot-5, Brown turned for the ball but appeared to knock Burress over. He was called for pass interference in the end zone, placing the ball on the 1-yard line.
“I asked the official, ‘You think a little guy like me can really knock a big guy like that down?’ It makes no sense,” said Brown, who is 5-10. “The referee just looked at me and laughed … I’m sure he’s 6-6. It would be like Shaq [the 7-1 Shaquille O’Neal] in the NBA. … Sometimes you have to give them [receivers] credit for being able to manipulate calls.”
The Steelers converted on just 1-of-9 third downs, the lowest by a Browns opponent since the Carolina Panthers went 0-11 on Oct. 8, 2006. The Steelers’ 49 rushing yards was also the lowest total since Nov. 16, 2003, when the Browns held Arizona to 41. … With field goals of 28 and 32 yards, Phil Dawson has made 27 in a row dating to last season, tying his team record. … Cornerback Dimitri Patterson (ankle), running back Brandon Jackson, special-teams ace Ray Ventrone (calf), fullback Owen Marecic, defensive tackle Ronnie Cameron (groin), guard Jarrod Shaw (illness) and wide receiver Josh Cooper (knee) were inactive for the Browns.
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