And then, it was gone -- a three-and-out more painful than any before.
Quinn's season ended on Wednesday after just three starts, done in by a broken right index finger that he tried to play with last week and may now require surgery.
Given the options of resting or an operation last week, Quinn could have sat out Sunday's game against Houston. But the second-year QB chose to play and did more damage to his finger.
"I knew [further damage] that was a consequence if I went in and played," Quinn said Wednesday. "That was something that I was willing to risk. If I had a chance to do it over, I would do it again."
Quinn, who threw an interception on his last pass of the season,
must now decide whether to have surgery or have his finger
immobilized in a splint. Browns coach Romeo Crennel said doctors
want Quinn to make up his mind within a week. Either way, it's at
least a six-week process and Quinn won't play again this season.
The Browns placed him on injured reserve Thursday night.
"It's frustrating," said the former Notre Dame star, who broke the tip of his finger and sustained tendon damage in his second start on Nov. 17 at Buffalo. "I can't begin to tell you. I'm hurting right now because I love to play the game. I wish I could be with my teammates. I feel bad for the fans because I really wanted to be out there and continue to play and continue to grow in this league.
"Hopefully, this will allow me to grow stronger and something good will come from this."
With Quinn out, Derek Anderson is back as Cleveland's starting QB.
But even if he leads the Browns to a 5-0 mark, Anderson's days in an orange helmet appear numbered.
In a stunning comment, Crennel, who may not be back next season, said Quinn will be his starter going into training camp in 2009.
"I had planned to go with Brady to be the quarterback," Crennel said. "When he comes back, he's going to be the quarterback. Quinn is the starter."
Crennel then became agitated when he was asked if he would change his mind if Anderson finished strong.
"D.A. was the starter, you guys hated him," Crennel said to reporters. "Quinn goes in and plays and now you're telling me if D.A. lights it up, you want him to be the starter. I have decided that Quinn is going to be the starter. I'm sorry if you don't like that."
Anderson lost his job to Quinn three weeks ago, when Crennel benched the Pro Bowler because of inconsistent play in the season's first eight games. Anderson played in the fourth quarter last week after Crennel benched Quinn, who threw two interceptions and was generally ineffective in a 16-6 loss to the Texans.
Before last week's game, Quinn consulted with team doctors, along with famed orthopedist Dr. James Andrews. Quinn was presented with three options: keep playing, put his finger in the splint or have surgery.
"It was a collaborative effort going into it," he said. "[Andrews] obviously talked about the course of action he wanted to take going into the game. That was something that was my decision to go ahead and play. I wanted to do the best I could to try and make the best of it."
However, when it came down to whether he would suit up or not, Quinn said he made the call.
"It was my decision in the end," he said. "It wasn't anyone else's, so it didn't matter what anyone else thought but me."
Following the game, Quinn refused to blame the injury for his poor performance -- 8-for-18 for 94 yards and a 21.3 passer rating -- and he didn't mention anything about his tendon. However, he later said he had trouble spinning the ball and Crennel revealed the additional damage to Quinn's finger on Monday.
Quinn was asked if the finger affected his ability to throw.
"I'm not one to make excuses out there," he said. "Clearly, I wouldn't be in this position right now if it didn't affect me to some degree and that's really all I'm going to say."
Quinn's injury is just the latest episode in a tumultuous season for the Browns, who are excepted to have an equally turbulent offseason.
Crennel's job is jeopardy and general manager Phil Savage could be on thin ice after sending a profane e-mail to a fan last week. On Tuesday, owner Randy Lerner said he will wait until January before deciding the future of Crennel and Savage.
By benching Anderson earlier this season, the Browns made it clear Quinn is their future quarterback. However, they only had three games to evaluate him and now must hope they made the right pick and that his finger recovers completely. Anderson is due a $5 million roster bonus in March, making it unlikely both will be with Cleveland next season.
Crennel said he has seen enough to think Quinn, who finished 45-of-89 for 518 yards, will be a legitimate starter.
"I'm impressed with what the kid has done on the football field, off the football field, the way he handles himself in the situations that he's gone in and the way he's handle them, the way he's run the team," Crennel said. "I like the kid a lot."