Travis Benjamin fought through adversity in 2014

Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin saw the highest of highs and some lows in 2014.

Benjamin was at the forefront of Cleveland’s 29-28 Week 5 win over the Tennessee Titans – you know, the victory that became the largest come-from-behind road win (25-point deficit) in NFL history 

“That’s a game I’ll remember until I die,” Joe Thomas said in a recent interview.

Two fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Brian Hoyer were secured in the back of the end zone by Benjamin. The following week, representatives from the Hall of Fame made the trip to Berea to collect Benjamin’s jersey for display in Canton.

“It feels like a kid going to Disney World,” Benjamin said.

But the 2014 season wasn’t all roses for Benjamin. Known as a dynamic punt returner in his first two seasons with the Browns, Benjamin saw his production take a dip. In 2013, Benjamin averaged 11.7 yards per return and boasted a 79-yard touchdown before tearing his ACL. In 2014, his average fell to 8.5, and Cleveland was forced to experiment with Jordan Poyer and even 32-year-old safety Jim Leonhard.

“I have to come in and keep pushing,” Benjamin said in an October interview.

On Dec. 7 with the Indianapolis Colts in town, the special teams unit would face their biggest challenge yet. Both specialists, Adam Vinatieri and Pat McAfee, were ranked first at their positions. Further, former Browns return man Josh Cribbs was making all of the headlines after he said he would jump in the Dawg Pound if he scored a touchdown.

The special teams unit rose up to the challenge, stifling Indianapolis in the field position battle. Benjamin took the encounter personally, as he ran back a first-quarter punt 37 yards to give Cleveland a heap of momentum.

But the play that best embodied Benjamin’s competitive “Play like A Brown” nature was in Week 16 against the Carolina Panthers. In the fourth quarter, quarterback Brian Hoyer underthrew Benjamin on a deep route near the right sideline. Carolina cornerback Josh Norman intercepted the pass and sprinted up field.

After sprinting and weaving 40 yards through would-be Browns tacklers, Norman felt someone behind him. It was Benjamin, who poked the ball free and recovered the fumble, giving the Browns another chance.

“That play, to me, shows you what Travis Benjamin is all about,” linebacker Barkevious Mingo said. “He just never gives up anything.”

Said Mike Pettine:  “If you had said to me that happened and guess who did it, Travis probably would have been the first or second name that I would have come up with. That’s the type of play that he would make for sure.”

All in all, Benjamin ended up leading Cleveland in touchdown receptions, battled through adversity as a punt returner and proved to his teammates and Browns fans he will fight on every single down.

“I still have room to grow as a playmaking receiver,” Benjamin said in his exit interview. “And I hope I can prove that.”

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