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Associated Press, Published September 22 2013

Cameron's third TD catch stuns Vikings late

MINNEAPOLIS – The quiet in the locker room after the game was almost a respite for the Minnesota Vikings. They’d spent three hours being booed lustily during a sloppy home loss to a team in full-on rebuilding mode.

Sitting at 0-3 with a trip to London coming up, the Vikings’ season is teetering on the brink of ruin, and they know it.

Jordan Cameron caught three touchdowns, including the go-ahead grab in the back of the end zone with 51 seconds left, and the Cleveland Browns overcame a week of turmoil to stun the Vikings 31-27 Sunday.

“We have to fix it,” said quarterback Christian Ponder, who heard chants for backup Matt Cassel throughout another uneven performance. “Otherwise we’re going to be 0-16.”

Ponder rushed for two touchdowns, but he also was 25 of 42 for 228 yards with one interception and one lost fumble.

He didn’t get much help from an offensive line that has woefully underperformed through three games. The unit allowed six sacks and had a hard time opening holes for Adrian Peterson against Cleveland’s determined front seven.

Peterson rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown, averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and lost a fumble. The offense managed to turn four Browns turnovers into only 10 points and the defense couldn’t hold a late lead for the second straight week.

The Browns trailed 27-24 and started at their 45 with 3 minutes, 21 seconds left. But Brian Hoyer capped a commanding march down the field with a 7-yard pass in the corner to Cameron to win the game.

“We’ve got to play better defense,” said DE Jared Allen, who was shut down by Browns star left tackle Joe Thomas all afternoon. “I don’t know if guys underestimated the Browns coming in or what the deal was, but we have to take a long look in the mirror and get better.”

The Vikings could live with starting 0-2 with road losses to NFC North foes Chicago and Detroit. But to lose at home to a team that just traded its starting running back and elevated third-string quarterback Hoyer to the starting job in place of Brandon Weeden? That one really stings.

Hoyer completed 30 of 54 passes for 321 yards with three touchdowns in his second career start. He also threw three interceptions, but Ponder and the Vikings couldn’t make him pay for it. The chants for Cassel could be heard loud and clear in the second half.

“It’s impossible to not hear them,” Ponder said. “But look, we want to win just as bad as the fans, as bad as anyone else. We’re more disappointed than they are. We’ve got to give them something to cheer about.”

Cleveland 7 17 0 7 – 31

Minnesota 7 10 7 3 – 27

First Quarter

Min – Peterson 2 run (Walsh kick), 9:13.

Cle – Gordon 47 pass from Hoyer (Cundiff kick), 4:42.

Second Quarter

Cle – Cameron 19 pass from Hoyer (Cundiff kick), 14:55.

Min – Ponder 6 run (Walsh kick), 10:12.

Cle – FG Cundiff 38, 6:07.

Cle – Cameron 11 pass from Lanning (Cundiff kick), 3:39.

Min – FG Walsh 43, 1:08.

Third Quarter

Min – Ponder 8 run (Walsh kick), 2:36.

Fourth Quarter

Min – FG Walsh 30, 10:47.

Cle – Cameron 7 pass from Hoyer (Lanning kick), :51.

A – 63,672.

Cle Min

First downs 23 21

Total Net Yards 409 329

Rushes-yards 17-103 31-134

Passing 306 195

Punt Returns 3-20 2-2

Kickoff Returns 1-26 3-78

Interceptions Ret. 1-13 3-36

Comp-Att-Int 31-55-3 25-42-1

Sacked-Yards Lost 3-26 6-33

Punts 5-46.8 7-46.4

Fumbles-Lost 1-1 3-2

Penalties-Yards 5-47 4-35

Time of Possession 28:52 31:08

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Cleveland, Aubrey 1-34, Ogbonnaya 2-23, Gordon 1-22, Rainey 4-17, McGahee 8-9, Hoyer 1-(minus 2). Minnesota, Peterson 25-88, Ponder 5-46, Patterson 1-0.

PASSING: Cleveland, Hoyer 30-54-3-321, Lanning 1-1-0-11. Minnesota, Ponder 25-42-1-228.

RECEIVING: Cleveland, Gordon 10-146, Bess 7-67, Cameron 6-66, Ogbonnaya 4-30, Little 3-19, Rainey 1-4. Minnesota, Peterson 6-27, Rudolph 5-28, Jennings 3-43, Wright 3-35, Simpson 3-29, Patterson 2-49, Gerhart 2-14, Carlson 1-3.

MISSED FIELD GOALS: None.