Atlanta — After being suspended for Cleveland's first 10 games, Josh Gordon had no trouble remembering how to play the game.
Fortunately for the Browns, Brian Hoyer was able to forget some costly mistakes.
Gordon turned in a huge performance in his first game of the season, catching eight passes for 120 yards, and Hoyer (Michigan State) shook off three interceptions to lead a drive in the final minute that set up Billy Cundiff's 37-yard field goal as time expired Sunday, giving the Browns a 26-24 victory over the Falcons.
"I knew the guys weren't going to quit on me," Gordon said. "I definitely wasn't going to quit on them."
Taking advantage of the last of Hoyer's picks, the Falcons drove for Matt Bryant's 53-yard field goal with 44 seconds remaining to seize the lead.
Turns out, they left too much time on the clock.
Hoyer completed four straight passes, including a 24-yarder to Gordon down the middle of the field. The last of the throws went to Miles Austin, who took it to the Falcons 19. The Browns (7-4) hustled to the line, spiked the ball with 5 seconds left, and sent on Cundiff for his fourth field goal of the game.
"Nothing to lose, really," Hoyer said. "Go out and play fearless. That's all I have at that point."
After serving his punishment for violating the league's substance abuse policy, Gordon started for Cleveland and was targeted 16 times.
"How did I hold up? Pretty good," he said. "The adrenalin will keep you going."
The Falcons (4-7) came in on a two-game winning streak and improbably tied for first with New Orleans in the woeful NFC South.
With another fourth-quarter meltdown, Atlanta dropped to 0-7 against teams outside its division.
Georgia native Isaiah Crowell scored a pair of touchdowns for the Browns, but it was Gordon who had the biggest impact.
His longest catch was the last one, taking the Browns to the Atlanta 45. Hoyer followed with a 15-yard completion to tight end Gary Barnidge, who bounced off a couple of tacklers to pick up some extra yards. Austin's 11-yard reception gave Cundiff an easy look.
"All we had to do was keep them from kicking that field goal," Falcons linebacker Paul Worrilow said. "You've got to make a play at that point."
Cundiff also hit from 33, 37, and 32 yards.
Hoyer, who was 23 of 40 for 322 yards, nearly gave it away for the Browns. The first of his picks turned the momentum in Atlanta's favor, leading to a touchdown that put the Falcons ahead 14-13 at halftime.
In the fourth quarter, the Browns had first-and-goal at the Atlanta 6 and Desmond Trufant made a leaping interception to keep Cleveland's lead at 23-21.
Atlanta was forced to punt with just under 4 minutes left, and Hoyer made another huge mistake. This time, he floated a deep pass down the sideline, only vaguely in Gordon's direction, and Dezmen Southward came up with his first career interception.
"I'm so disappointed in myself right now," Hoyer said. "That's not how I play."
Crowell, who spent one troubled year at the University of Georgia before being kicked off the team, scored on runs of 11 and 26 yards.