Posted September 18, 2013 on
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The Minnesota Vikings are among the last teams to make the playoffs after starting a season 0-2. Facing a third-string quarterback might help them to start climbing out of that hole again.
The Vikings host the Cleveland Browns in a matchup of winless clubs Sunday.
Minnesota was one of three teams to overcome 0-2 starts in 2008 and qualify for the postseason, rebounding to win the NFC North. No team has done so since, and both of Minnesota's defeats this year are to division rivals.
"It's nice to know you're the last team to do that," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "But you can't look ahead and say we're just going to do it or the past is going to repeat itself. You have to put the work in and make the plays on Sunday.
"We're doing the right things during the week. Now, on Sunday when it comes down to crunch time, make the plays when they come to you."
Minnesota thrived in close games last season en route to a surprise playoff appearance, going 5-1 in contests decided by seven or fewer points. The Vikings, however, allowed the go-ahead touchdown with 10 seconds left in a 31-30 loss to Chicago on Sunday and have blown leads in both games.
"We're a resilient group. We've got a lot of veteran guys in here, and we've just got to keep trucking, man," cornerback Chris Cook said.
"It's a long season. Fourteen games left. You know? It can be all uphill from now. It can all go downhill. I'm definitely, definitely, sure that we're going to go uphill from here."
This contest is the home opener for Minnesota, which can at least point to some positives from last week. After giving up 24 points in the first half, the defense forced two turnovers and two punts in the second half before the disastrous final minute. Adrian Peterson had another 100-yard rushing game, though he did lose a fumble.
The circumstances appear much different for the Browns as they make their first trip to the Metrodome in 18 years. Third-string QB Brian Hoyer makes his first start for a Cleveland team that hasn't scored a touchdown in six quarters.
Starter Brandon Weeden sprained his right thumb in a 14-6 loss to Baltimore on Sunday and the Browns opted to go with Hoyer - who started one game last year for Arizona - over backup Jason Campbell. Hoyer is the 19th starting quarterback for the Browns since they re-entered the NFL in 1999.
"I feel like based on our current situation - where we're at offensively as well as getting into the game planning for Minnesota - that Brian's strengths are the best fit for this week and that he gives us our best chance to win," coach Rob Chudzinski said. "The things that he does well fit what we need. For me, it's about who gives us the best chance to win."
Hoyer gets back top receiver Josh Gordon, who was suspended for the first two games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Gordon led the team with 805 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 2012.
"He's a huge difference," Campbell said. "He's a big target. He's a big guy. He's a big part of what we do offensively. Not having him out there, definitely hurts a little bit, because he is a big part of what we do. So it'll be good to get him back, get him going, try to get him back into a rhythm."
The Browns need Gordon's production after scoring 16 points through two games, second fewest in the NFL. Cleveland has converted five of 29 third-down attempts and the Browns' top offensive threat, running back Trent Richardson, hasn't cracked 60 yards in either contest.
"I won't accept losing," Richardson said Sunday. "I've never lost at any level. I will fight to do everything I can to turn this around, and I will take my teammates with me."
These teams last met in 2009, when Brett Favre made his first start as a Viking and led Minnesota to a 34-20 win in Cleveland. The Vikings have won four straight in the series and are 10-3 all-time against the Browns.
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