We are in our second week of highlighting the top five defensive plays from this past weekend's game. It's hard to be ecstatic about what the defense accomplished because they allowed Andy Dalton to lead the Bengals down the field for two big drives late in the game. Here is a list of five defensive plays that stood out to me from the Browns vs. Bengals game, in the order in which they took place during the game.
1. Benson is Denied at the Goal Line: After the Browns took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, the Bengals were quickly marching down the field. A third-down scramble by Dalton fell just shy of the end zone, setting up a 4th-and-goal from the 1 yard line. Could the Browns come up with another stop like they did against Jacksonville? Yes. This time, it was a run play, but linebacker Kaluka Maiava and safety Mike Adams combined to stuff Benson for no gain.
2. Young's Highlight of the Year: Yowza! On 2nd-and-5 in the second quarter, Dick Jauron picked the right time to dial up a safety blitz by Usama Young. Young lined up beside the right tackle, and when the ball was snapped, Young came unblocked. Dalton had just handed the ball off to running back Bernard Scott, who Young bulldozed in the backfield for a loss of seven yards!
3. Sack+Fumble Leads to Touchdown: With less than a minute to play in the second quarter, Dalton was back to pass and never felt Jabaal Sheard coming. Sheard stripped Dalton of the football and players began diving for the ball. Scott Paxson had been at the bottom of the pile, and when the referees dug through the pile, Paxson emerged with the football. It led to a Browns touchdown just before the half.
4. Gocong Misses a Pick: It sure would be nice to actually come away with some of these passes late in games. Near the beginning of the fourth quarter on a 3rd-and-12, Dalton was trying to pass to tight end Jermaine Gresham over the middle with Ahtyba Rubin bringing the heat. Linebacker Chris Gocong dove sideways and got his hands on the ball, but it would've been a tough play and he couldn't come away with it. Nonetheless, it stopped the drive.
5. Hagg Finally Gets the Upper Hand: After safety Eric Hagg had been getting picked on by Jermaine Gresham most of the game, Dalton tried to connect with his tight end again on 3rd-and-5 with just over five minutes to play. Hagg was in coverage again, and this time he made a Joe Haden-esque breakup by diving at the right time, leading to a punt that would eventually set up Cleveland's failed 55-yard field goal attempt.