Travis Benjamin atones for return issues

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin could have let a mishandled punt and near turnover in the third quarter take him completely out of his game, but it was his persistence that led to Sunday's 29-28 win over the Tennessee Titans at L.P. Field.

Benjamin caught two fourth-quarter touchdowns, and heL.P.ed the Browns seal the largest comeback victory not only in franchise history, but also the biggest ever by a road team in the NFL.

"I grabbed him when he came off after the fumbled punt, and just said to him, 'Hang in there. Your job when you have a chance to make a play is to make a play,'" Browns coach Mike Pettine said.

"It's obvious he lacks confidence in the punt return game, but for a guy, that's just a microcosm of the team. Here's a guy that had something bad happen to him, and he didn't go in the tank. He bounced back and made two plays, including the game winner."

On first-and-10 from Tennessee's 17-yard line, quarterback Brian Hoyer dropped back deep into the backfield and avoided a rush from a Titans defender to find Benjamin wide open on the slant route in the middle of the end zone for the score.

"That was a play where our up-tempo offense gets their defense tired," Hoyer said. "Usually, when you come out there and it's that coverage, the defensive end is right up the field and you have to throw it quick, but he was so tired, I think. He kind of just shuffled along with me. I was able to pull up and I saw Travis just spring open in the end zone. I thought I overthrew him on that one too."

With 1:09 remaining in regulation, it was another Hoyer to Benjamin connection that erased an 18-point halftime deficit. Hoyer's six-yard touchdown pass to Benjamin tied the game at 28 all, and Billy Cundiff's extra point gave the Browns the one-point margin needed for victory.

Hoyer found Benjamin in the back of the end zone, similar to the manner in which he delivered the game-tying touchdown to the Browns' quick-footed wide receiver at the Pittsburgh Steelers in the regular-season opener, on an in-and-out drag route along the back line of the end zone.

"On a play like that, we figured they were either going to all-out blitz us or three-man rush us," Hoyer said. "Right away, I could tell it was a three-man rush. Usually, with that, you're never going to hit a play on schedule. It was kind of a scramble drill without the scrambling.

"It's something we work on throughout the week, especially in the red zone, and Trav made a great move, in and out, kind of similar to Pittsburgh when he scored and I thought I overthrew him when I first threw it. But he got up, grabbed it, got his feet down and made a great play."

Hoyer completed four passes to Benjamin for 48 yards and the two touchdowns, but according to the veteran signal-caller, it was at his and Benjamin's worst that allowed them to build a chemistry that has come through on the field.

"My relationship with Trav goes back to when we were both rehabbing our ACLs," Hoyer said. "I love the guy to death because he's quiet, but he's one of the guys that texted me over the bye week and said, 'Hey man. We're better than this. I'm sitting here watching these guys and we can win in this league.'

"To see a guy who doesn't talk all the time but sends you a text message like that, it shows how much it means to him. I have a lot of faith in him, and our relationship grew as we rehabbed together."

Running back Ben Tate added, "The way he played today at the end, him making those plays, and Trav coming back from making a mistake earlier, getting two touchdowns and helping us win this game, that's big. That shows resilience. That's what you need when you're trying to take the next step."

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