Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden is sacked by Lions defensive end Willie Young and C.J. Mosley in the third quarter. The second-year player has been criticized this season for holding the ball too long, making him one of the most-sacked quarterbacks in the league.
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CLEVELAND — Brandon Weeden kept his starting job on his 30th birthday. Some might call that an undeserved gift.
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Monday that he is staying with Weeden as his starter despite the inexcusable interception he threw in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 31-17 loss to Detroit.
"This was one game," Chudzinski said. "I thought that Brandon played well in spurts and at times he obviously made critical mistakes.
"It's just not one guy."
With the Browns trailing 24-17, Weeden, trying to avoid being sacked while under pressure from Lions defensive tackle C.J. Mosley, inexplicably flipped the ball backhanded toward fullback Chris Ogbonnaya near Detroit's sideline. The shocking attempt was picked off by Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy, all but sealing Detroit's comeback win.
Weeden called the play "bone-headed."
Chudzinski didn't use that adjective, but he didn't think the gaffe warranted benching Weeden for backup Jason Campbell, either. In fact, Chudzinski said he and his staff did not even discuss the possibility of making a switch, and Weeden will start Sunday in Green Bay.
"It's never just about one play or person to assign blame," Chudzinski said. "We all can be better."
So the Browns won't toss Weeden aside.
Weeden's mistake may have been Cleveland's costliest, but it certainly wasn't the Browns' only one. They were outscored 24-0 in the second half by the Lions, who capitalized on mismatches with running back Reggie Bush, forced Weeden to rush his throws, and scored on four of five possessions after halftime.
Weeden is an easy target for media members and fans, but Chudzinski said there was plenty of blame to apply evenly throughout Cleveland's roster.
"Anytime you're talking about offense, there's a lot of different people and moving parts involved, and it takes 11 guys to be successful," Chudzinski said. "We're playing well at times and at times we're not playing so well. I think that when you look at it, Brandon is doing some good things, and it's really just a matter of cutting out the critical mistakes."
Weeden, who hit the big 3-0 on Monday, was back in the starting lineup because Brian Hoyer sustained a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter on Oct. 3 against Buffalo. Cleveland's offense ran more efficiently with Hoyer, who made fast decisions and got rid of the ball quicker than Weeden.
And although benching Weeden may have been popular with a segment of Cleveland fans, linebacker Craig Robertson said Browns players are behind him.
"He's our quarterback," said Robertson, the only starter in the locker room during a 45-minute period open to reporters. "You can't toss and turn quarterbacks every week. We've got to stick with him and rally behind him. He's our quarterback."
Chudzinski said it's difficult to pinpoint the reasons behind Weeden's uneven performances. He can go from making an accurate 30-yard throw one play to forcing a pass into tight coverage on the next. But the bottom line is that he's not making sound choices.
"It really just boils down to those critical decisions," Chudzinski said. "The mistakes that he made yesterday, I know he wants them back and would like to have them back, but there are mistakes from other guys there too. At times we didn't have anybody open and he was trying to find somebody."
The Browns signed Campbell as a free agent in March, bringing the eight-year veteran in to challenge Weeden. Campbell, who has made 71 career starts for Washington, Oakland, and Chicago, played well during the exhibition season but was passed over by Hoyer after Weeden sprained his right thumb in Week 2.
Last week, Campbell admitted it "stung" to be leapfrogged by Hoyer, who had been third on Cleveland's depth chart since training camp.
Chudzinski said Campbell remains an option.
NOTES: Chudzinski said the Browns will send a tape of LB Quentin Groves' roughing-the-passer penalty on Lions QB Matthew Stafford to the league office for a clarification. Groves' infraction on third down with 3:01 left gave Detroit a first down, and the Lions scored three plays later to make it 31-17. ... In three losses, the Browns have been outscored 55-3 in the second half, but Chudzinski downplayed any lack of adjustments. "You do things as the game goes on," Chudzinski said. "So some of that's overrated."
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