CLEVELAND – T.J. Graham just remembers it being loud after his first career touchdown catch.
"It went too fast," the Buffalo Bills' rookie receiver said of the moment, which came in the first quarter Sunday and helped his team jump out to a 7-0 lead on its way to a 24-14 win over the Cleveland Browns.
Graham was lined up as the slot receiver to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's right. There wasn't a defender in sight as he caught the 9-yard pass.
"I was wide open. I was kind of running with my hands out and Fitz hit me with a good pass," Graham said. "I did a little dance for my parents. They probably watched it on TV. Hopefully they tuned in, it was all for them."
Graham's first touchdown catch might be his most memorable moment from Sunday's win, but it wasn't his best play. That came in the fourth quarter, when on a third-and-9 play from the Cleveland 20-yard line, he caught a wide receiver screen from Fitzpatrick and fought for a first down. Two plays later, the Bills scored the crucial touchdown to give them a 10-point lead.
"He made a couple big plays," Fitzpatrick said. "The third down where we whipped the ball out to him, he makes a nice cut off the block [by tight end Scott Chandler] and picks it up. … He stepped up and did some good things for us [Sunday]. We said last week with him, that every week we've just got to get him a few more plays, a few more plays and he has to continue to get confidence and play well."
The first down was a prime example of Graham's continuing education. The Bills ran a similar play for him in the second quarter in a third-and-10 situation, and he was pushed out of bounds after a gain of 6.
"All camp, I would always get asked after a play, Coach [Chan] Gailey would say, ‘Did you know what down and distance it was?' I was like, ‘I don't even know what the play is!'" Graham said. "Now that I kind of understand the plays a lot more, I can focus on those things. I knew it was a big, crucial play. That we had to get the first down, so I had an awareness to get to the sticks.
"It was a good block. I was pushed to the outside a little bit. If I would have run out of bounds I wouldn't have made it, so I had to cut back in."
After David Nelson was lost for the season because of a torn ACL in Week One, Graham's learning curve was forced to be accelerated.
A few plays before his touchdown catch, he caught an earful from Gailey. He was lined up on the ball when he was supposed to be off it.
"Rookie mistake," he said.
That was forgotten by late afternoon, when the only fans left in the stadium were those in red, white and blue.
"T.J. definitely stepped up big for us," receiver Donald Jones said. "He's the type of guy, he shows no emotion. Whether up or down, he's the same way. … If the ball comes to him, he's going to make the play, and that's what he did [Sunday]. He's definitely grown a lot more since David went down. These last two weeks he's had to step in and he's stepped up big. He's grown and matured a lot."