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Benjamin's TD punt return gives Browns 17-10 lead

By TOM WITHERS - AP Sports Writer
    2013-10-03 21:07

CLEVELAND (AP) - Travis Benjamin scored on an electrifying 79-yard punt return in the second quarter to give the Cleveland Browns a 17-10 lead over the Buffalo Bills at halftime Thursday night.

The Browns trailed 10-0 before tying it with 3:52 left on Willis McGahee's 1-yard TD run.

Cleveland forced a punt and the speedy Benjamin caught it at his own 21. He immediately broke to the left, weaved through traffic and picked up a few blocks as he neared the Browns' sideline. With only punter Shawn Powell in his way, Benjamin broke through the tackle with ease and raced into the end zone with 2:20 left before leaping into the Dawg Pound section to celebrate with fans.

Quarterback Brandon Weeden came off the bench to replace starter Brian Hoyer and rallied the Browns to a field goal and McGahee's TD to tie it 10-10.

Hoyer injured his right knee on a scramble in the first quarter and the Browns turned their offense back over to Weeden, who had lost his starting job after spraining his right thumb in Week 2.

Cleveland also got a 30-yard field goal from Billy Cundiff to cut Buffalo's lead to 10-3.

Fred Jackson scored on a 1-yard TD plunge and Dan Carpenter kicked a 52-yard field goal in the first quarter as the Bills jumped out to their 10-0 lead.

With the Browns trailing 7-0, Hoyer took off on an 11-yard run and was sliding after picking up the first down when he was hit from the side by rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso.

Both of Hoyer's knees were bent awkwardly on the hit in front of Cleveland's bench, and several players and coaches yelled for a penalty to be called on Alonso. Hoyer stayed on the ground for several moments before he was assisted to a trainer's table. After he was examined, Hoyer limped unassisted to the locker room for tests and treatment.

The Browns confirmed Hoyer injured his right knee, but did not update his playing status.

He was replaced by Weeden, who started Cleveland's first two games before getting hurt against Baltimore. Weeden was cleared to play this week, but coach Rob Chudzinski chose to stick with Hoyer, who won his first two starts.

A lifelong Browns fan and Cleveland native, Hoyer was attempting to become the first quarterback in team history to win his first three starts. Hoyer's first pass was dropped by wide receiver Josh Gordon, who may have been able to break it for a long gain.

The Bills lost leading wide receiver Steve Johnson with a back injury in the second quarter. The team said his return was questionable and Johnson left the field before his teammates did at half. The Bills said Johnson's return is doubtful.

The Bills needed just three plays to take a 7-0 lead on Jackson's short run.

After a 25-yard punt return by Jim Leonhard put the ball at Cleveland's 32, the Bills tried a trick play with wide receiver T.J. Graham attempting a long pass to Johnson. He was interfered with in the end zone by cornerback Joe Haden, giving Buffalo the ball at the 1. Jackson scored on the next play.

The Bills had both Jackson and running back C.J. Spiller after they missed practice time this week with injuries.

At halftime, the Browns honored former star running back Jim Brown, one of the greatest Browns of them all.

Cleveland's career leader in rushing yards and touchdowns, the Hall of Famer skipped a 2010 ring of ceremony because of a rift with former team president Mike Holmgren. However, Brown was welcomed back to the team by new owner Jimmy Haslam and hired in May as an adviser.

Brown said he's touched by the tribute, which will acknowledge his contributions on and off the field.

``It's great to be back,'' he said before kickoff. ``This is where I should be. I'm always going to be a Cleveland Brown. I love this city and I love these fans.''

The famed No. 32 is excited about the Browns' fast start this season and believes the Browns could contend.

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