CLEVELAND — Brandon Weeden never once hung his head after getting hurt and losing his job to a hometown hero.
He figured the Browns would need him again, and he had to be ready.
On Thursday night, his number was called and Weeden delivered.
Weeden came off the bench after Brian Hoyer injured his knee and rallied the Browns to a 37-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills, who also lost starting rookie quarterback EJ Manuel with a knee injury.
After spraining his right thumb in Week 2, Weeden watched as Hoyer, a lifelong Browns fan who began the season as Cleveland's No. 3 quarterback, led the team to two straight wins. Weeden got healthy enough to play but found himself demoted to a backup role, not what the first-round draft pick imagined after being named the starter in training camp.
He could have sulked or complained. Instead, he fought back.
"Whether I was the starter, eyes are still on you to see how you respond, to see how you react," he said. "I was upbeat the entire time and never let it bother me. Inside, it just kind of lit a fire."
Weeden threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Josh Gordon in the third quarter as the Browns (3-2) won their third straight and temporarily moved into sole possession of first place in the AFC North. It's the Browns best record after five games since they were 3-2 in 2001.
—We don't care about history," Gordon said. "This is a new year and this is a new team."
Safety T.J. Ward intercepted rookie Jeff Tuel's pass and returned it 44 yards for a TD with 1:44 left to end any comeback hopes for the Bills (2-3). Travis Benjamin had an electrifying 79-yard TD punt return in the first half for Cleveland.
Hoyer sustained a potentially serious right knee injury on a scramble in the first quarter, and Manuel was forced out after taking a helmet to his right knee on a run in the third. Neither returned and their injuries could impact both teams' seasons.
Following the game, Hoyer left the stadium on crutches with his knee immobilized. Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Hoyer has a sprained knee and will undergo an MRI today.